October 31, 2014

Iowa opens basketball season Sunday

Fran McCaffery

Fran McCaffery

The college basketball season tips off this week. The Iowa Hawkeyes host Northwood of Florida in an exhibition game on Sunday afternoon. Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons and junior college transfer Trey Dickerson have all been working at point guard.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says, “All of their games are a little bit different as well, so I can go a lot of different ways,” McCaffery says. He says Gesell has so far established himself as the starter at the position.

McCaffery says as a newcomer Dickerson is working to become a leader and he is picking up what they want him to do and now he has to take over and get everyone else where they should be. “And that often times is a much more difficult process than you would think,” according the McCaffery.

McCaffery says the veteran players have been as good as he hoped, saying Aaron White especially has done what you want out of a senior captain, and that has carried over to everyone else.

McCaffery says if there has been a surprise it has been the play of six-eight freshman Dom Uhl from Germany. He says Uhl can put the ball on the floor and make a play, or get the ball to someone else. McCaffery says Uhl is thin and needs to get stronger to be able to maintain the pace required at this level of play.

Northwood is an NAIA program and led by former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino and McCaffery says Massimino had a terriffic record in the Big East during the league’s glory days and he always did it in the right way.

UNI hosts Upper Iowa on Thursday night in exhibition play. Iowa State hosts Viterbo of Wisconsin on November seventh and Drake plays Coe on November eighth.


Hawkeye coach says goodbye to receiver

Kirk Ferentz

Kirk Ferentz

Iowa receiver Derrick Willies is leaving the program. The redshirt freshman from Rock Island showed big play ability but had trouble getting on the field for an offense that lacks playmakers. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says Willies expressed a desire to be near his ailing father in Arizona. “I think he is fine, he’s just got some issues that have been concerning and I understand the prognosis is good. It’s just something that’s important to Derrick at this point,” Ferentz says.

Willies appeared in five games and four receptions. Ferentz left the door open for his return if he has “a change of heart in the near future.” But he says he is not counting on that.

Ferentz says sophomore running back LeShun Daniels will be out the remainder of the regular season due to injury and sophomore linebacker Reggie Spearman has been suspended two games after being arrested on his moped for drunk driving. Decorah native Josey Jewell becomes the starter at linebacker. He says Jewell was in line to be a starter until breaking his hand and missed the first two ballgames.

Iowa is 5-2 and hosts Northwestern on Saturday. Ferentz refuses to put any added importance on the outcome but with games coming up against Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska this is a game the Hawkeyes need in the win column. “The bottom line is it’s a conference game and they are all real important,”Ferentz says.

The Hawkeyes played poorly in their last outing, a loss at Maryland and Ferentz says if they don’t tackle well and move the football, it’s going to be tough to win. The Hawkeyes will be in trouble the remainder of the season if they don’t stop eliminating big plays by the opponents. “The bottom line is we have to play better fundamentally,” Ferentz says.

Northwestern has won six of the last nine games in a series that at one time was lopsided in favor of the Hawkeyes. Ferentz says a lot of people make the mistake of living in the past and they have a proud tradition.

In fact the Wildcats have won three of the last five meetings with the Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium.

The Wildcats are 3-4 overall.

Cyclones get Jarvis West back to face Oklahoma

Paul Rhoads

Paul Rhoads

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads expects receiver Jarvis West to be at full strength when the Cyclones host 19th ranked Oklahoma on Saturday. West has been nursing an injured left foot and played sparingly in an October 18th loss at Texas and his return adds another weapon to the ISU offense as a playmaker as he says the things they do with West involve the horizontal passing game more than the vertical passing game. And he says West is a also a run threat.

Iowa State has scored 82 points in the last two games and a big reason is the play of junior quarterback Sam Richardson, who has 73 completions in the last two games. “I think he is playing at a high level, but there is still a ceiling to reach with him, and with a year and a half to go, I am excited to see the growth that’s going to take place,” Rhoads says.

Rhoads says another factor is the offensive line is giving Richardson time to throw it. A year ago he spent most of his time trying to avoid the pass rush and he says he is now running only when he has too.

Rhoads says it won’t be about trying to outscore the Sooners, as he says it will take better defense, and it is more about how they can limit Oklahoma’s offense. And that means the defense will need to show marked improvement as he says they were not pleased with the performance against Texas.

Rhoads says they need to find a way to slow down a Sooner ground game that begins with an outstanding offensive line.

Oklahoma began this season as one of the favorites to reach the first college football playoff but the Sooners are now a long shot to grab even a share of the Big 12 title following a loss to Kansas State in their last outing.

The Cyclones are 2-5 and the Sooners are 5-2.


Radio Iowa High School Football Football Poll 10/27/14

Class 4A
1. Bettendorf (9-0), LW #1 vs CR Jefferson
2. Cedar Rapids Washington (9-0), LW #2 vs Clinton
3. Dowling Catholic (8-1), LW #3 vs Indianola @ Williams Stadium
4. WDM Valley (8-1), LW #4 vs DSM East
5. Waukee (8-1), LW #5 vs Sioux City East
6. Linn-Mar (8-1), LW #6 vs Davenport Central
7. Ankeny (7-2), LW #7 vs DSM Lincoln
8. North Scott (7-2), LW #8 vs Dubuque Hempstead
9. Ankeny Centennial (7-2), LW #9 vs Johnston
10.Lewis Central (8-1), LW #10 vs C.B. Abe Lincoln

Class 3A
1. Pella (9-0), LW #1 vs Fairfield
2. Solon (8-1), LW #2 vs Davenport Assumption
3. Sioux City Heelan (8-1), LW #3 vs Spencer
4. Dallas Center-Grimes (8-1), LW #4 vs Knoxville
5. Carroll (8-1), LW #5 vs Adel ADM
6. West Delaware (8-1), LW #6 vs Dubuque Wahlert
7. Humboldt (8-1), LW #7 vs Gilbert
8. Waverly-Shell Rock (7-2), LW #8 vs Western Dubuque
9. Carlisle (7-2), LW (X) vs Winterset
10.Cedar Rapids Xavier (6-3), LW #10 vs Charles City

Class 2A
1. Clear Lake (9-0), LW #1 vs Estherville LC
2. Spirit Lake (9-0), LW #2 vs MOC/Floyd Valley
3. Williamsburg (9-0), LW #3 vs PCM Monroe
4. Collins-Maxwell/Baxter (9-0), LW #4 vs South Hardin
5. North Fayette Valley (8-1), LW #5 vs Monticello
6. Sioux Center (8-1), LW #6 vs Central Lyon/GLR
7. Albia (8-1), LW #7 vs Mid-Prairie
8. Cascade (8-1), LW #8 vs West Burlington
9. Hampton-Dumont (8-1), LW #9 vs Southeast Valley
10.Mediapolis (8-1), LW #10 vs Mount Vernon

Class 1A
1. Iowa City Regina (8-1), LW #1 vs Alburnett
2. South Winneshiek (9-0), LW #2 vs Lake Mills
3. Fort Dodge St. Edmond (9-0), LW #3 vs Woodward-Granger
4. West Branch (9-0), LW #4 vs Sigourney-Keota
5. St. Ansgar (9-0), LW #5 vs Sumner-Fredricksburg
6. IKM-Manning (9-0), LW #6 vs Madrid
7. West Lyon (8-1), LW #7 vs Sibley-Ocheyedan
8. North Cedar (8-1), LW #9 vs Hudson
9. Dike-New Hartford (7-2), LW #10 vs Bellevue
10.Hinton (8-1), LW (X) vs OA-BCIG

Class A
1. Maquoketa Valley (9-0), LW #1 vs Winfield-Mount Union
2. Logan-Magnolia (9-0), LW #2 vs Griswold
3. Pekin (9-0), LW #3 vs North Linn
4. Gladbrook-Reinbeck (8-1), LW #4 vs Blemond-Klemme
5. Nasua-Plainfield (8-1), LW #5 vs Wapsie Valley
6. Montezuma (9-0), LW #6 vs Pleasantville
7. AGWSR (8-1), LW #7 vs Algona Garrigan
8. Mt. Ayr (8-1), LW #9 vs Colfax-Mingo
9. Woodbury Central (8-1), LW #10 vs Akron-Westfield
10.Bedford (8-1), LW (X) vs Earlham

1. Don Bosco (9-0), LW #1 vs Twin Cedars
2. Fremont-Mills (9-0), LW #2 vs East Union
3. Janesville (9-0), LW #3 vs Lansing Kee
4. Central Elkader (9-0), LW #4 vs Meswaki Settlement
5. Glidden-Ralston (9-0), LW #5 vs AR-WE-VA
6. HLV (Victor) (8-1), LW #6 vs Wayne (Corydon)
7. Turkey Valley (8-1), LW #8 vs Clarksville
8. Coon Rapids-Bayard (8-1), LW #9 vs Lenox
9. West Bend-Mallard (8-1), LW (X) vs North Iowa
10.Boyer Valley (7-2), LW (X) vs Harris-Lake Park


Southeast Polk, Ankeny, Urbandale, Fort Dodge fight for district position

The championship in class 4A district 1 will go to the winner of tonight’s game in Ankeny where the seventh ranked Hawks host Southeast Polk. The Rams overcame early injuries and an 0-3 start against a tough schedule.

“I think you look back during the summer when you bring your kids in and try to develop them, our goal is to make sure at the end of the season the last game you play has some meaning. And I think we’ve been able to to day,” Southeast Polk coach Denny Muller says. He says a new offensive system has taken time to develop and they are continually improving on it and adding things when the players were ready for it. Muller says they can now do multiple things without changing their overall philosophy of wanting to run the football.

Muller says the Ankeny offense will be tough to stop and defensively he says they have improved drastically over last year and they will have to handle a tough defensive front.

In another class 4A game, Urbandale hosts Fort Dodge and the winner claims the runner-up spot in district four and a home playoff game. After starting the season 1-3 the J-Hawks are in search of their third straight win.

“We really preach to our kids the whole year to get into district play and compete every week, and we’re trying to compete for an opportunity to get into the playoffs,” Urbandale coach Sam Anderson says. He says defense must try to slow down class 4A’s second leading rusher in the Dodgers’ Sam Cook. “He’s a tremendous back, we’ve seen him for years, it seems like he should be a senior, but he’s not. He’s a great runningback, he can beat you on the inside, he can beat you on the outside, he can throw the ball, he does it all,” Anderson says.

Cook has nearly 1,200 yards of rushing but Anderson says he is not the only weapon that Fort Dodge can use as he says their quarterback does a good job of distributing the ball to some explosive receivers.

Anderson says they started with a lot of young kids and they have hopefully gotten better and will peak at the right time.

Fort Dodge coach Matt Miller says they have a lot of weapons on offense and have strived to improve every week and he says with a strong running game it allows them to mix in some play-action passing.

Miller says the Dodgers have made strides on both sides of the ball as they were also a young team at the start of the season.

Miller says the goal for tonight is to get the win and come out of the game healthy so they can turn around in a short week and play at home Wednesday. “Everything is out there for both teams,” Miller says.


High School football playoff pairings will use a new format this year

The pairings for the upcoming high school football playoffs will have a much different look this season. Gone is the format from the past few years where the entire bracket is released for all six classes and instead the pairings will be put together after each round. Todd Tharp of the Iowa High School Athletic Association says the new format is designed to limit travel.

He says school administrators were worried about having to travel so far and they talked with it and decided they needed to go back to the 125 mile limit for travel.

Tharp says the new system won’t change the pairings when it comes to seeding but there could be district rematches in the first two rounds. Tharp says the district champion will still play the 4th place team and the district runner-up will still play the 3rd place team. “Unfortunately in some areas of the state there might be some district rematches on that first Wednesday night,” Tharp says.

Tharp says they will no longer be automatically matching teams from neighboring districts. He says there could be combinations of 3 or 4 different districts to get the games in for the first round.

Tharp says they should have all 192 qualifiers and their seeding on the association website before midnight. It will then take a couple of hours to complete the pairings, and he says it could be between 2 or 3 a.m. by the time they have all the pairings posted.

The first round for all six classes is Wednesday night.


Graceland football team turns record around with more turnovers

Patience is paying off for the Graceland football team where the Yellowjackets are riding a three game winning streak heading into Saturday’s matchup against Benedictine of Kansas. Graceland is 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Heart of America Conference after finishing 1-10 last year and 0-9 in league play.

Graceland coach Jeff Douglas says turnover margin is a major factor in their success. They lead the conference with a plus-seven margin as he says the defense has been playing well and the offense has been taking care of the ball.

Benedictine is ranked 24th in the latest NAIA poll and Douglas says they have to face ranked teams every year and Benedictine is one of them that is always tough.

Benedictine has the Heart of America’s top rushing attack. “We’ve got to try to stop the run…they can throw the ball a little bit, but their bread and butter is running the ball,” Douglas says.