Three teams tied for the Iowa Conference football title last year and another close race is expected. In 2002, Central shared the league title with Coe and Wartburg but the tie-breaker left the Dutch on the outside looking in at the division three national playoffs. With 12-starters back from last year’s team Central coach Rich Kacmarynski is looking for his team to take the next step this season, with the number one goal of winning the conference and the automatic bid to the playoffs.The Dutch have experience in two key areas on offense. Four regulars are back in the offensive line and Junior Mark Isaacson returns at quarterback after tossing ten touchdown passes in 2002.The defense also returns six starters, including All-American middle linebacker Mark Sanger.Kacmarynski says the opportunity to take the next step begins with the opener against Augustana of Illinois. He says last year they turned the ball over too many times, and the want to change that this season. Loras wants to make it a four-team chase. The Duhawks have 14-starters back from last year’s team that finished 5-5, including eight from a defense that ranked fourth in the conference in 2002. Loras coach Bob Biere says the defensive staff has done a great job of installing some new things. On offense the biggest holes to fill are on the offensive line where just two starters return. He says the strong suit offensively is the three I-backs they have. Matt Hintz takes over at quarterback. He played in six games in 2002. Biere says Hintz stayed around during the summer and lifted weights and has really improved. Among the losses a year ago, a ten point setback to Central and an eight point loss to Coe. Biere says those outcomes have the Duhawks convinced they are not far away.Loras opens Saturday at Monmouth of Illinois.
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