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Cedar Falls Begins Title Dream

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Cedar Falls (KWWL) -- It's been twenty two-years since the Cedar Falls Tigers have won the 4A Iowa State High School Football Championship. Pat Mitchell's 1986 team beat Linn-Mar 15-14, to give Cedar Falls its only 4A football title.

The Tigers have been to the championship game four times. CF suffered a heartbreaking, 28-21 loss, in the 1999 title game, losing to Iowa City West. Few Tigers fans will ever forget the dramatic, 24-21 loss to West Des Moines Valley in the 2005 championship game. It's Pat Mitchell's 42nd season as head coach; the past four years as Co-Head Coach with former Tiger all-stater, Brad Remmert.  The Tigers have reeled off eight straight victories after their season-opening loss to Cedar Rapids Washington.

This year's Tigers have had their sights set on a state title every since they were just little ones. They share a close bond as friends and teammates, particularly starting quarterback Kyle Bernard and starting left cornerback, Shane Fuller. Kyle, Shane and several other Tigers have been playing on sports teams together since around 4th grade. Check out our video story to see Shane and Kyle playing for the Peet Area Hornets as 6th graders in 2002. For as long as they can remember, their dream has been to win the state football championship, and they believe this is their year.

The teammates look to each other for inspiration and leadership. Of Kyle, Shane says, "Kyle means a lot to the whole team. Everybody looks to Kyle for leadership. He just keeps the team steady, keeps us calm and leads us well. He's a good Captain and he always has the team under control."  Kyle returns the compliment, noting Shane's great attitude and aggressiveness on the field. "Shane's definitely one of our vocal leaders. He likes to get after it. He never backs down, always scraping and working hard; doing the dirty work."

Illness almost derailed the dream. About a year and a half ago, doctors put Shane's title dream on hold, when they diagnosed him with testicular cancer. "When you first hear the word cancer, you don't know what to think. You don't know; am I going to die; am I going to live? When I was first diagnosed, I wasn't sure I would ever be able to play sports again

Kyle said he was stunned when he first learned about Shane's cancer: "I was totally shocked. First, I said, why does it have to happen to such a great guy like Shane? But, he always had such a great attitude through the whole thing."

Shane turned to his family, friends and faith to help him through the toughest game of his life. Shane underwent two successful surgeries. A prayer chain, originating through Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, provided Shane with incredible spiritual strength. Shane's father, John, is the Senior Pastor at Prairie Lakes Church. The two surgeries and the prayer chain later, and Shane is cancer free. Now, in talking about his ordeal, Shane says the cancer was a strange kind of blessing in his life. He says, "God just gave me a new perspective on life, and it made me appreciate things even more. So many people were out there praying for me and cheering for me, and God worked in some pretty cool ways through me having cancer."

Shane led the annual cancer survivors Victory Lap at the 2007 Black Hawk County Relay For Life. Kyle and other friends and teammates joined him in the walk at Hawkeye Community College.

The cancer scare brought new perspective, not just to Shane and Kyle, but to Tiger teammates, too.  Kyle says, "Just having him out there is such a great thing. He brought such a great attitude to the team. We all looked at him and said, we've all got to work hard too, because Shane's out here working hard."

All that hard work resumes in the state playoffs Wednesday night, when the Tigers host a much-improved Cedar Rapids Jefferson team in the UNI Dome. Shane and the Tigers says, from here on out, it's every down; every play; and ‘Leave Nothing" on the road to a state football championship.

Ron Steele

KWWL-TV

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