The Notre Dame West Burlington High School boys football team had one goal in mind when the season kicked off – to repeat as class 1A state champions.
Despite losing five key players from last year’s Class 1A state championship team 23-1, Nike nearly made it through the seemingly impossible.
Notre Dame West Burlington won the regular season and SEI Superconference tournament titles and traveled through the substate to earn a return trip to the James W. Cowney Football Complex in Des Moines.
But Nike’s drive to win back-to-back state titles ended in a 1-0 loss to Western Christian in the state quarterfinals. Western Christian finished second in the state behind Davenport Assumption.
Fort Madison, meanwhile, has almost done its own little miracle. Battling injuries to key players throughout the season, head coach Kevin Wellman put together a team that went out to win the Southeastern Conference 10-0 and 14-6 overall. The Bloodhounds advanced to the substate final before losing to Pella on penalties . strikes on the home field of the Dutch.
Mediapolis was ranked Class 1A for most of the season, but when top scorer Rafael Narcisco’s visa ran out after graduation, the Bulldogs struggled to score in the postseason.
Burlington got off to a fast start, had several ups and downs in the middle of the season, and lost in the substate quarter-finals.
There were many memorable moments during the season. The cream has risen to the top and this is reflected in the 2022 Al-Hawk Eye Boys football team.
Cole Ward Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington
Ward was a tenacious hitter who earned all-conference honors. He scored 31 goals and made three assists for 65 points. Of 67 shots on goal, he was successful at 46.3 percent. Ward will play for Grand View University in the fall.
Gabe Zurita Sr, Notre Dame West Burlington
Zurita spent time between striker and midfield, where he was an excellent ball handler and distributor. He finished the season with 33 goals and 12 assists for 78 points. His 81 shots on goal were second-highest in the state, and 40.7 percent of them hit the net. He converted his only penalty of the season. He will play for Southeastern Community College in the fall.
Raphael Narcisco Sr., Mediapolis
Narcisco, an exchange student, was a powerful offensive weapon for the Bulldogs. He finished with 20 goals and nine assists for 40 points. Of his 52 shots on goal, 38.5 percent ended in goals. He also converted 2 of 4 penalties.
Daniel Perez Sr, Vapello
The Indians had a season of ups and downs and were competitive in many games. Perez played a key role in this. He scored 26 goals and provided a couple of assists for 54 points. He landed 49 shots on goal, 53.1 percent of which were converted into goals for the Indians in a 3–14 win.
Parker Davis Sr, Notre Dame West Burlington
Davis was the offensive quarterback for the Nikes, the player the attack went through. Davis accepted, scoring a career-high 46 goals in a single season that season. His 89 career assists in three seasons – his second season was canceled due to COVID – broke the previous career high of 77. He finished the season with 21 goals and 88 points, second in the state. He made 46 shots on goal, converting 45.7 of them. He converted his only penalty of the season. Davis was selected from the state to the Class 1A first team. He will play for Iowa Wesleyan University in the fall.
Mitchell Potitakis Sr., Fort Madison
Potitakis, who set a single-season assists record with 39 last year, was instrumental in an injury-riddled season for the Bloodhounds. For his efforts, he received the State 2A Second Team Award. He finished with 28 goals and 23 assists for 79 points. His 155 shots were state-leading and he hit 76 of them on target, hitting the net 36.8% of the time. He converted his only penalty.
Braden Sean Jr., Burlington
Sean returned after missing the previous two seasons – 2020 due to COVID and 2021 due to injury – and has been instrumental in the Greyhounds’ success. He scored nine goals and six assists for 24 points despite drawing a lot of attention from the opposing defense. He made 28 shots on goal, of which 32.1% were goals. He was 2-for-2 on penalties.
Eddie Valdez, t. n., Burlington
Valdez was a big influence on the Greyhounds with his excellent footwork and dribbling ability. He scored five goals and made three assists for 13 points. Of his 19 shots on goal, 26.3% hit the net.
Aidan Krell Sr, Notre Dame West Burlington
Krell was arguably one of the best defensive players in the state, despite being snubbed by state teams. Krell was the anchor of a tight-fisted Nike defense that scored just 12 goals all season, 0.57 goals per game. Krell scored one goal and provided an assist for three points. He will play for Luther College in the fall.
Dakota Ditch Sr. Danville-New London
Dietsch was the highlight of a season that the Bears were having trouble with numbers. Sometimes the Bears played with nine or ten players and even canceled the match due to the small number of players. But the Bears nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year, outscoring Mediapolis with a goal just over a minute to play in a substate game before the Bulldogs scored twice and left. Dietsch scored four goals and provided four more assists for 12 points. He landed 16 shots on goal.
Hunter Lilly Jr., Notre Dame West Burlington
Lilly was a leader outside of the Nikes’ defense and often started the game with him as he passed the ball through midfield to the Nikes’ many scoring guns. Lilly scored four goals and provided six more assists for 14 points. He made 13 shots on goal, of which 30.8% were converted.
Arya Navruzi Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington
Nowruzi is the latest in a long line of all-state Nike goaltenders to earn an honorable mention in Class 1A. During his only season on the network, Navruzi made itself felt. Of the 131 shots he faced, Navruzi saved 119 of them, accounting for 90.8 percent of shots. He conceded just 12 goals and provided one assist with a long-range goal kick. He will play for Simpson College in the fall.
Xander Wellman Sr., Fort Madison
Wellman missed the start of the season due to card buildup last season and then suffered an injury that caused him to miss several games. But when he was on the field, Wellman’s powerful right foot made a big difference. He scored 14 goals and provided four more assists for 32 points. He landed 19 shots on goal, converting a stunning 73.7% of them.
Carson Wagner Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington
Wagner was another frontrunner on the Nike field, one of only six high schoolers to convert to college football. Wagner will play for Saint Ambrose University in the fall. Wagner scored 17 goals and provided 16 assists for 50 points. He landed 35 shots on goal, 48.6% of which hit the net. He converted 1 of 2 penalties.
COACH OF THE YEAR
John Wagner, Notre Dame West Burlington
Wagner has made all the right moves this season, keeping Nike motivated and giving younger players much-needed game time to keep them interested. With six seniors on the roster, that game time is critical next year and beyond. Wagner, who just finished his fourth year and third season as a head coach, has a career record of 59-7 at Nike. He led Nike to the Class 1A State Championship in 2021 with a 23-1 record before going 17-4 and returning to the state.
2022 ALL-HAWKEYE BOYS FOOTBALL TEAM
Forwards – Raphael Narcisco Sr., Mediapolis; Daniel Perez Sr, Vapello; Cole Ward Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington; Gabe Zurita Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington.
Midfielders – Parker Davis Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington; Mitchell Potitakis Sr., Fort Madison; Braden Sean, Jr., Burlington; Eddie Valdez, so., Burlington.
Defenders – Dakota Ditch Sr., Danville, New London; Aidan Krell Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington; Hunter Lilly Jr., Notre Dame West Burlington.
Goalkeeper – Arya Navruzi Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington.
Usefulness – Carson Wagner Sr., Notre Dame West Burlington; Xander Wellman Sr., Fort Madison.
Player of the Year – Davis.
Coach of the year John Wagner, Notre Dame West Burlington.
Danville-New London – Aiden Konig, Colin Peeler, Tala Whaley
Fort Madison – Leif Boeding, Nathan Bowen, William Geiger, Philip Goldie, Nathaniel Swigart, Rayburn Turnbull
Notre Dame West Burlington – Alex AbuAssali, Matt Buten, Sina Navruzi
Mediapolis – Dylan Brader, Elijah Grier, Randy Hine, Ryan Konecke, Lance Ludens, Owen Russell
Vapello – Elijah Belzer, Jacob Chamberlain, Robert Vasquez