NEWTON — Never mind Hoxie never had won a state championship in football.
In fact, the last time the Indians played in a title game, the school was playing 11-man in 1981. On Saturday in the Eight-Man Division I championship game, Hoxie put all that to rest with a convincing 54-14 win over St. Paul at Fischer Field in Newton.
It was a win the Indians celebrated with a large crowd that traveled from their hometown.
"It's nice just to bring this to Hoxie, to the the whole community," junior defensive lineman Jarrod Dible said.
"People have been looking at my class since our fourth-grade year and seeing how big my class is. They've been looking at this for a long time."
With blood dripping off his chin following the game, Dible exemplified the type of game Hoxie played — hard-nosed and not taking any prisoners.
The Hoxie defense swarmed all over a St. Paul team that reached the title game by coming from behind in its last two games. Hoxie (12-1) wasn't about to let that be the case after 233-pound fullback Chris Cox put his team up 6-0 in the first quarter by running right through the middle from 1 yard out.
Cox, who also plays on the defensive line, transferred to Hoxie last spring from Oakley. He was a strong added piece to an already strong team prepared for the season.
"(Cox) has been big for us," Hoxie coach Lance Baar said of the senior. "(Latham Schwarz) had been our fullback, so he gave us some depth back there. Defensively, he helped us with depth. We were able to keep our big guys fresh."
With Cox's presence on offense, the offense opened up a little more for Schwarz. The Indian senior pounded the St. Paul defense for short yardage, then broke a 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that gave Hoxie it's final score.
It was a exclamation point to a strong day for Schwarz, who also scored on runs of 12 (in the second quarter) and 1 (fourth quarter). With what Hoxie was able to do with its running game, the passing part opened up a bit. Senior tight end Taylor Burris scored on two 48-yard touchdowns on passes from junior quarterback Jared Kennedy.
"(St. Paul) has had two comeback wins in a row, so once we had them down, we knew we couldn't let off the gas pedal and coast to the end," Schwarz said. "We swore to ourselves we were going to put them down and finish strong to the end — just like we started."
St. Paul's touchdowns came on big pass plays. The first was a 75-yard pass from senior quarterback Braven Born to junior Collin Carlson in the second quarter that made it 14-8 in favor of Hoxie after St. Paul's Brenden Doherty scored on the two-point pass from Born.
Trailing 48-8 in the fourth quarter, Doherty took a pass from backup quarterback Adam Albertini 58 yards for the Indians' only other touchdown. Albertini replaced Born after he went down early in the third quarter with a knee injury.
As the team surrounded, Baar at the end of the game with the trophy in his hands, the coach lifted it above his head.
"We did it," he yelled to his players and the crowd that formed around the team.
The championship moment was Hoxie's. And the team, and a large contingent of the community, celebrated it together.
"It feels really good … really good," Cox said. "I wasn't expecting to do this good, but we made it. We came, and we did our best."