September 19, 2014

Wartburg moves up in the football rankings

The Wartburg College football team has its highest ranking in almost six years as they host Wisconsin-Stout this weekend. The Knights are rated ninth by after beating a highly-rated Bethel team last week. The last time Wartburg cracked the top 10 was in the final poll of the 2008 season.

Wartburg head coach Rick Willis says they are excited by the start and the hard work they put in is showing. Logan Schrader has cemented his place as the team’s full-time quarterback, after splitting time with Taylor Jacobsmeier last year. Jacobsmeier has since moved out to wide receiver on a full-time basis.

Nineteen starters are back from last year, including 10 on the offensive side of the ball. Kicker Michael Bohlke and punter Grant Zimmerman also return. “When you have the sort of combination of things come together it is exciting, it doesn’t mean it’s easy,” Willis says.

The Knights have met Bethel three times over the last two seasons, but Saturday’s game against Wisconsin-Stout will be at the opposite end of the spectrum as they have to figure out what they do.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Walston-Hoover Stadium in Waverly.

By Austin Draude, KLMJ, Hampton

Ackely and AGWSR part of big night of high school football

A major piece of the title puzzle in Class A District 4 could go into place tonight in Ackley. The third-ranked AGWSR Cougars are 3-0 on the year and opened the district schedule last week with a 46-21 win over Grundy Center. Head coach Skip Eckhardt says fundamentals will be the key to a win tonight over eighth-rated Wapsie Valley.

The AGWSR ground game loaded up on yardage against the Spartans last week, but the Wapsie Valley rushing attack will be contending with injuries as the Warriors prepare for tonight. “our biggest problem is trying to figure out how to stop a powerful double wing offense,” Eckhardt says.

Wapsie Valley is 2-1, but needed a big second half and some key special teams plays to put North Tama away in a 40-7 final last week to start district play. “Wehn you are not running the ball real well and not moving it real well, special teams can give you a spark, and it did. That was key to the victory for us,” Eckhardt says.

It is a marquee non-district match up tonight as the second ranked in Class 2A New Hampton Chickasaws will take on the second ranked in Class 1A South Winneshiek Warriors. New Hampton Head Football Coach Scott Frerichs says that although this is a non district game, the preparation is the same.

It is Homecoming Week for New Hampton and Coach Frerichs points out that it is great for community involvement, but hopes his team is not distracted by it. “It’s a time that supposed to be fun for the kids and the community and you’ve got to make sure that that can happen. I think once you get to playing the football game, everything else goes away,” Frerichs says.

South Winneshiek coach Jason Ohrt says it will be a good challenge for his team. He says you don’t get to play a playoff caliber team much during the season. Ohrt says New Hampton has a lot of weapons, running the ball well and also with screens.

Austin Draude, KLMJ, Hampton, Tad Barry, KCZE, New Hampton and Darin Svenson, KDEC, Decorah all contributed to this story.

Drake looks to get consistent with the start of PFL play

The Drake Bulldogs open the Pioneer Football League race at home on Saturday against Marist. Road wins are tough to get in a league that is spreads out from cost to cost and Drake coach Rick Fox says that puts added pressure on the home games. “The home games put you in a position to win a championship and the championships are won by winning on the road. So we have to put ourselves in position by winning at home,” Fox says.

Marist is 0-3 but the history of this series has featured close games, including the 2012 meeting in which the Bulldogs scored 31 straight points to win in overtime. “They’re a very physical football team, they are a very sound football team in terms of their scheme and execution,” Fox says.

Drake is 1-2 after a 38-13 loss at Western Illinois and Fox says the Bulldogs need to take their game to the next level with the start of the PFL.


Northwestern football team faces Dakota Wesleyan

The Northwestern football team visits Dakota Wesleyan in a GPAC conference matchup of ranked teams on Saturday. Northwestern coach Kyle Achterhoff says it will be a tough challenge.

Dakota Wesleyan is ranked 15th in the latest NAIA Poll while Northwestern is ranked 18th. The Northwestern defense will try to slow down Dakota Wesleyan running back Francois Barnaud, who has more than 400 yards in two games.

Achterhoff says the Red Raider offense will need to be balanced against the Dakota Wesleyan defense.Dakota Wesleyan coach Ross Cimpl says even though it is early it is a big conference game. Both teams opened league play with a victory. Dakota Wesleyan is 2-0 overall. Northwestern is 1-1.

(Reporting by Doug Broek, KSOU, Sioux Center)


Iowa lineman looking for offensive consistency

If the first two games were a warning sign than last week’s loss to Iowa State should be a wake up call according to senior offensive tackle Andrew Donnal. The Hawkeyes are averaging a paltry 131 yards on the ground so far and need to get it fixed as they prepare for a trip to 3-0 Pittsburgh.

“We were able to squeeze by the first two weeks with wins, getting by with things we maybe shouldn’t have gotten away with,” Donnal says. “Last week we got what we deserved, we didn’t play as good as we should have. That should be an eye-opening experience to us that we need to change what we are doing right now.

Donnal says the offense has played well at times but needs to put together a complete game. He says they haven’t done that in the first three weeks and that eventually led to the loss and now they need to step it up.

Donnal says the Hawks have made too many mistakes to be a consistent offense. “Sometimes we have 10 guys doing the right things or 8 or 9 guys doing the right things and it takes 11 guys doing the right things to get done what we want to get done on the field. And that hasn’t happenedconsistently enough,” Donnal says.

Luther football turns to the option and finds success

There is still a place for option football and Aaron Hafner is proving that at Luther College. In his second year at the helm Hafner has led Luther to a 2-0 start, equaling last season’s win total and the Norse are averaging 348 yards of rushing in their “flexbone” attack.

He says they use a couple of slot backs and use different formations that some might call the spread option. Hafner says option football is a good way to turn a program around. He says it is more of a small college offense, and says that is okay. Hafner says it allows them to recruit players that are a little bit different.

Hafner says it can also be an advantage because it forces the opponents defense to change how it plays. “You have to play very responsible and tackle the dive and tackle the quarterback,” Hafner says. He says defenses will get better at defending the option as they go along and they will have to get better with their schemes.

Luther’s defense has also made strides this season by giving up only 91 yards of rushing per game. He says they’ve done a great job in the red zone of keeping people out of the endzone.

Luther returns to action at home on Saturday against Grinnell College.

By Darin Svenson, KDEC, Decorah

UNI volleyball celebrates 40 years

It will be a big weekend for the UNI volleyball team. Not only will the Panthers open Missouri Valley Conference play but the program will be recognizing its 40th year of competition.

UNI coach Bobbi Peterson says several former players will be returning for the events and there will be a lot of familiar faces. Peterson says the people have been the biggest part of the program and it is exciting to have so many return.

It will be an emotional weekend for Peterson, who competed for the Panthers and served as an assistant coach before taking over the program. “There’s just so much pride in our alumni and what our program did when they were here and what they continue to do,” Peterson says. She says when they get together they won’t talk about the matches, they will talk about the relationships they have built over the years.

UNI hosts Loyola on Friday and Bradley on Saturday.

(Reporting by Elwin Huffman, KOEL, Oelwein)