There's no question that Spirit Lake and Mediapolis will bring very good teams to Friday's Class 2A Championship game.
Only the field of play will determine which is better in 2012.
Both teams have something to prove this year after losing to eventual 2011 champion Iowa City Regina a year ago.
Spirit Lake’s Rick Maris finds a little running room in last Saturday’s semifinal game against Kuemper.
EDN photo by David Swartz
Mediapolis lost 56-27 to Regina in a quarterfinal game.
Spirit Lake led Regina at halftime before falling 24-20 in the championship game.
The Indians have been tested this season having lost 25-10 to top-ranked Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley in Week 5 and then avenging that loss with a 21-17 win in the quarterfinal.
Except for a special teams miscue that led to a Kuemper Catholic touchdown, Spirit Lake essentially controlled the semifinal 17-10 win with defense.
Mediapolis also controlled its semifinal game against Dyersville-Beckman, giving up just one touchdown late in the game of a 19-6 Bulldog victory.
For Mediapolis, the game was its closest game of the year with the Bulldogs' lowest point total. The previous low was a 33-6 win against Louisa-Muscatine.
Coach Josh Bolluyt said like any big game, it will come down to who can make the big plays and who makes the fewest mistakes.
"They're very physical up front defensively," Bolluyt said of Mediapolis. "They're offensive line obviously has done a good of protecting their quarterback too."
After facing one of the top passers in the state in Kuemper's Cole Neary, Spirit Lake's secondary will be tested again against the top passer in Class 2A, Mediapolis' Jesse Ertz.
Ertz threw for was 13-of-29 for 299 yards and three touchdowns in the win against Beckman. For the 2012 season, Ertz is 151-of-223 for 2,613 yards, 45 touchdowns and two interceptions.
His top receiver is Jordan Wagenbach. The 6-1, 170-pound senior has caught 55 passes for 1,170 yards and 19 touchdowns. He caught nine passes for 180 yards and three scores against Beckman last week.
Ertz is also the team's leading rusher with 1,063 yards and 14 touchdowns on 98 carries. However he carried the ball just two times for 6 yards against Beckman.
Message boards at Iowapreps.com indicate Ertz was injured in the quarterfinal game and thus unable to run as much.
Spirit Lake players will expect a 100 percent healthy Ertz to show up on Friday until it's proven otherwise.
"You just have to be prepared for it the best you can and see what happens," said Bolluyt.