February 8, 2016

Iowa running back situation continues changing

Damon Bullock

The one constant the past few years with the Iowa running back position is that things will change.

De’Andre Johnson was dismissed from the team last week after two arrests, continuing a string of running backs who have left the team or have been injured.

Sophomore Damon Bullock opens fall camp listed in the number one spot along with junior Brad Rogers and two freshmen. Bullock says seeing someone dismissed from the team is an eye opener.

“It’s a wake up call, you just basically just want to go in every day knowing that anything can happen. And as long as you keep your head straight and you stay focused, you should be good. That’s what we try to do and try to carry it on to the freshmen as well,” Bullock says.

He says regardless of who is on the roster, you have to do the same thing when it comes to preparing. “Everybody has the same goal, we’re just trying to get better each and every day and get ready for September first,” Bullock says.

Damon Bullock answers questions during media day.

One thing that is different is new offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who comes from Bullock’s home state of Texas.

“I love it, you know coming up here to Iowa you’ve got all of these Iowa accents, and just getting coach Davis to come in…I kind of feel like home,” Bullock explains. “I’m loving it.”

He says Davis’ offense is a lot like what he ran in high school, which is something else he likes.

Jordan Canzeri played in Iowa’s bowl game last season, then injured his knee. Canzeri is trying to recover to get back on the field in the season opener.

“I am hoping that I can actually improve fast enough to be in the first game. I’m just gonna keep working as hard as I can and just try to work my way in as fast as I can,” He says.

Canzeri is not sure how likely it is that he would be ready to play in the first game.  “Anything can really happen, you can always have setback days, you never know when that can come up. So far I’ve been moving ahead fast and going in the good direction, so I’m really happy about that,” Canzeri says.

He says it’s tough to be working hard and not be able to get into the action. “It’s frustrating, but you just always have to look at the positive, you can’t have any negative really stay ahead of your life. Life will get hard, it will throw some tests at you, but you just have to show your good character and pick yourself up,” according to Canzeri.

Freshmen Barkley Hill, who played at Cedar Falls and Greg Garmon, are also listed as potential starters. Freshmen are not allowed to talk with the media. The Hawkeyes open the season at Soldier Field in Chicago against Northern Illinois.

High School football practice gets underway

High school football teams with games on what is called “week zero” can begin practice today. English Valleys is one of the teams with a game on August 17th. The Bears will open at Iowa Valley.

English Valleys coach Bronson McCulley says it’s been kind of fun and exciting to get back in the groove of things with practice. McCulley says they agreed to the early game last winter and it will allow them to play a ten game schedule. He hopes that will be beneficial for the team and help them in the end.

More than 50 teams will play their opener during Week zero.

By Chris Varney, KGRN, Grinnell

“Suspicious” fire destroys Des Moines East football equipment

A central Iowa high school football team has lost its helmets, pads and uniforms in a fire just one week before the start of practice. Des Moines School District spokesman Phil Roeder says the fire happened Tuesday night at the stadium Des Moines East shares with Grand View University.

“The good news is no one was injured,” Roeder said. “The bad news is (the fire) destroyed a lot of the equipment of the Des Moines East Scarlet football team.” Damage is estimated at $70,000 to $100,000.

Grand View’s football gear is stored in a separate facility. Roeder believes football practice for East will still begin next week.

“We’re working fast and furious now with athletic suppliers to get new equipment lined up for the team right away,” Roeder said.

Investigators are calling the fire “suspicious” as witnesses reported seeing two vehicles leave the stadium parking lot shortly before firefighters arrived. The fire was contained to offices and locker and equipment rooms. The football field was not damaged.

Fort Dodge beats Dowling to finish game suspended by weather

The State high school baseball tournament resumed this morning with the completion of the 4A opening round that was suspended after thunderstorms hit Des Moines.

Isaac Lehman’s single into right center scored the game winner as 4th ranked Fort Dodge scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to edge 6th ranked Dowling Catholic 5-4 in a weather-delayed Class 4A quarterfinal.

Fort Dodge led 1-0 on Wednesday night when the weather forced the game to be shut down. Lehman says they got to bed at midnight.

“So we only got about 5 hours of sleep, it was kind of rough…it was a late night, but it feels good now,” he said.

When the game resumed Dowling scored a run in the second and added two more in the third to take the lead. Fort Dodge coach Matt Elsbecker says they did their best while operating on little sleep. “The reality was we survived…these guys have been dreaming about this, these seniors have been dreaming about this for four years and we were going to do whatever it takes,” Elsbecker said.

Dowling led 4-3 going into the bottom of the seventh but Maroon pitchers walked one batter, hit two others and Dowling also failed to get the lead runner at third on a bunt.

Dowling coach Tim O’Neil was upset with a couple of calls in the bottom of the seventh. He stormed out of the interview area following the game without taking any questions.

4A baseball tournament game suspended after storm hits

With lightning spotted, play in the Fort Dodge vs. West Des Moines Dowling game was stopped at 8:53 p.m. Wednesday after 15 minutes of play. Fort Dodge scored in the bottom of the first inning for a 1-0 lead. After an hour delay with rain and continued lightning, the Iowa High School Athletic Association decided to suspend the game. Play will resume with Dowling at bat in the top of the second.

Alex Hayden of the Cedar Rapids Kennedy Cougars shut down Linn-Mar to defeat the Lions by a score of 13-1 at Principal Park. five innings of shutout baseball. Top ranked Ankeny scored seven runs in the first enroute to a 14-4 win over Davenport North.

Third ranked West Des Moines Valley jumped out to a 6-0 lead then held off a rally by fifth rated Iowa City West for a 10-5 victory in a class 4A quarterfinal round game. Tiger first baseman Austin Stephens had a two run homer to left as part of a four run fifth inning.

Stephen says the Tigers are playing their best at the right time. He says it’s nice to get the first state tournament win under their belts and they can hopefully keep it rolling.

West rallied with four runs in the bottom of the fifth and the Trojans got to within 6-5 before Valley put the game away by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh.

West coach Charlie Stumpf says his team gave a great effort to get back into the game. “I thought we did a good job at the plate like usual…from where we were to have the tying runs on is all you can ask,” He says. Stumpf says Valley is a deep team that hits well and played better than his team.

Umpire retires after 40 state tournaments

Umpire Gary Paulsen has worked 40 state tournaments.

A central Iowa man who has appeared in more state high school baseball tournaments than anyone else stepped off the diamond for the final time Monday.

Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis reports :Gary Paulson story :53

Gary Paulsen of Ogden umpired his last game during a record 40th appearance at the State Baseball Tournament. He’s been calling balls and strikes for more than five decades. Paulsen called his first game as a junior in high school, joining his father and uncle on the diamond.

“I was fortunate to work in the 50s and 60s with my dad and my uncle, in the 80s and 90s with my son and then, in the summer, I broke down and trained my grandson. So, that’s four generations of stupidity or whatever you want to call it,” Paulsen said with a laugh.

“It’s been fun and I’ve actually been (umpiring) since probably 1957.” In addition to his family, Paulsen credits his long, successful career to good health and a lot of luck.

“My mother’s dad lived to be 94 and he was an active runner, so I think I have some of those genes in me,” Paulsen said. “I’ve been fortunate, other than one year I developed a blood clot during football season, otherwise I’ve been very fortunate to stay healthy.”

Paulsen is also an accomplished basketball, track and football official. He was inducted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

Shrine football game moving to the UNI-Dome

The Iowa Shrine Game will have a new home starting next year. The annual high school football all-star game will move to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

The game has been played at Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium for the past dozen years, but was forced to move because of a new NCAA rule.

Jim Marlin, Executive Director of the Cedar Valley Sports Commission says the rule prevents “non scholastic football” games from being played on Division 1-A campuses. It does not impact high school playoff games.

Marlin says that the Shrine Bowl board and U.N.I. had a mutual interest in putting the game on in the Dome. He says the Shriners were already thinking of holding the game there and it was an obvious alternative once the rule started.

Marlin says that there is a week’s worth of activities surrounding the game that will also move to the Cedar Valley. “It really is amazing the amount that they pack into the week. The kids will spend time out during the week for social activities…there’s a parade Saturday morning before the parade…there’s a banquet of almost 800 people…so it really is a community-wide 7-day event,” according to Marlin.

Marlin doesn’t have a specific dollar amount that the events will bring to the area, but says that the money will be spread across the Cedar Valley. “It’s significant in that they’re coming in and spending money at the water park, and spending money with the Bucks and spending money at the convention center, and then renting the Dome. And that doesn’t include the money they’re spending on housing all the players and the cheerleaders in the dorms for 7 days,” Marlin says.

Next year’s Iowa Shrine Game will the be 41st edition of the all-star competition.

By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls