30 Iowa Conference titles
PELLA — Central College will have an opportunity to wedge its way back into the Iowa Conference football race Saturday, taking on league co-leader Wartburg College at Waverly.
Game time is 1 p.m. at Walston-Hoover Stadium.
Central (5-3 overall, 3-2 conference) rolled at Loras last week, 48-3, while Wartburg (6-2 overall, 4-1 conference) suffered its first league loss, a 24-10 setback at home against Coe College.
On the Web, on the air--Trevor Castle will call the play-by-play for the Dutch on KRLS-FM (92.1). The broadcast can also be accessed through Central’s website at www.central.edu/athletics or through www.kniakrls.com.
The series-- Recent history suggests the game will be tight. Central held off a frantic Wartburg comeback bid last year at Pella for 31-28 victory and there hasn’t been a margin of more than eight points between the teams in the past seven years. The Dutch lead the all-time series 42-19.
The Knights—Wartburg boasts one of the league’s top offenses. The Knights are averaging 403.8 yards and 28.6 points per game and are second in the conference in scoring, averaging 32.8 points. Wartburg is also second in rushing (201.1 yards) and will challenge Central’s league-leading rushing defense (116.9 yards). And Wartburg is the league pass sacks leader with 29 (3.6 per game).
The Knights are using a pair of quarterbacks. Senior Taylor Jacobsmeier has completed 66 of 114 passes (57.9 percent) for 978 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also the team’s second-leading rusher with 69.6 yards per game and four scores. Sophomore Logan Schrader has connected on 56 of 94 passes for 604 yards and seven TDs with seven interceptions. He’s also a running threat, gaining an average of 6.7 yards a carry and 24.1 yards a game. Sophomore Brandon Domeyer is the top rusher with 608 yards and four touchdowns. Junior receiver Donald Miller has 31 catches for 371 yards and six touchdowns.
“Wartburg has another talented team that’s having a great season,” McMartin said. “They’re playing really good football. They’ve been using two quarterbacks and both are excellent. They have a really strong running back and they have one of the biggest offensive lines we’ll face all year.”
Wartburg senior linebacker Ryan Billings is averaging 9.9 tackles per game, ranking second in the league, while junior linebacker Drew Kooi is fourth at 8.9 and sophomore linebacker Will Janssen is ninth at 8.2.
“They have an outstanding defense,” McMartin said. “They fly around and put a lot of pressure on you. They try to force you into certain things and that will be a challenge for us. They’ve got great team speed, they cover well and they tackle well.
“They have a very strong line, good linebackers and their safeties and cornerbacks are physical. They’ve shut down some really good offenses.”
Dutch numbers—Central is leading the conference in scoring defense (13.5 points per game) and total defense (293.9 yards), as well as pass defense efficiency (103.8). The Dutch are also making strides on special teams. They lead the league in team punting with a net (punt yardage minus return yardage) of 34.7 yards, in punt return average (11.7 yards) and kickoff coverage (42.0 yards net). Central has also taken over the lead in turnover margin with plus 10 for the year.
Running back Josh Osborn (junior, Burlington), who only had six carries at Loras Saturday before giving way to backups, is fourth in the conference in rushing (82.0 yards per game). He’s third in all-purpose yardage (122.0). Kicker Kevin Sheldon (junior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) is fourth in the conference in scoring and first in kick scoring with 6.8 points per game. He shares the league field goal lead with 10 in 15 tries.
Linebacker Mitch Schroeder (junior, Lowden, North Cedar HS) is third in the league in tackles (9.3 per game). Defensive end Danny Samson (senior, Baxter, CMB HS) and linebacker Keith Rush (senior, Griswold) are one-two in sacks with 8.5 and 6.5, respectively. Samson is tied for first in tackles for loss with 16.5. Cornerback Eric Larson (junior, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS) is tops in passes defended (1.5), with 11 breakups and an interception.
In the NCAA Division III statistical rankings, Central is fourth in blocked kicks with seven, third in tackles for loss (10.3 per game) and fifth in fewest fumbles lost (2).
Samson is 11th in tackles for loss (2.1 per game) and 16th in sacks (1.1) while Sheldon is ninth in field goals per game (1.3).
Balanced league—McMartin said picking winners in the conference is a guessing game this year.
“It’s really hard to figure out from one week to the next,” he said. “You can’t really predict. Certain teams maybe match up better against other teams, but there are a lot of similarities, too. You just have to show up and make plays.”
Execution remains the focus for the Dutch.
“Obviously we have to do what we’re best at,” McMartin said. “We’ve got to be an opportunistic offense. When we get a chance, we have to score. We need to take care of the ball and not put ourselves in bad situations. And we need to create some things with our special teams.”
Back at QB—Receiver Brendon Boerm (sophomore, Traer, North Tama HS), who was a part-time starter at quarterback last year, made an appearance as the signal-caller Saturday at Loras. He rushed three times for 23 yards and a touchdown while also completing one of two passes for nine yards and a score—a TD pass to his brother, Mitchell Boerm (freshman, Traer, North Tama HS). Siblings Jack Norgaard (junior, Naperville, Ill., Neuqua Valley HS) and Sam Norgaard (freshman, Naperville, Ill., Neuqua Valley HS) both had touchdowns as well.
McMartin said using Boerm at quarterback occasionally gives the Dutch offense a different look.
“Brendon has been playing quarterback for us in practice a little bit every week,” he said. “We just wanted to change things up a little bit. I thought he responded well.”
Bright days ahead—Many of Central’s younger players got their most extensive action Saturday and McMartin came away encouraged.
“We played a lot of guys,” he said. “I thought they settled in and did a nice job. We see these young guys every day in practice and in JV games and I like what I see. They’re getting better.”
Offensive line shuffle—Central is listing promising freshman Greg Smith (Greenfield, Nodaway Valley HS) in the starting lineup for the first time since early in the year. He’s been slowed significantly by injury, but has seen limited action in recent weeks. With Smith taking over right guard, Ryan Collins (junior, Mesa, Ariz., Red Mountain HS) shifts to right tackle.
And the streak goes on—Central’s victory Saturday assures the Dutch of at least a .500 season. Central has not had a losing season since the waning days of the Eisenhower Administration in 1960, a year before Ron Schipper arrived as football coach and 46 years before Central’s stadium was named for he and his wife, Joyce.
QB 9 Aaron Eiseler (jr., 6-0, 210)
RB 28 Josh Osborn (jr., 5-9, 190)
SB 41 Austin Shaver (jr., 5-11, 225)
TE 2 Jack Norgaard (jr., 6-3, 220)
WR 18 Blaine Forsythe (jr., 6-1, 200)
WR 6 Brendon Boerm (so., 6-0, 185)
LT 55 Nick Watson (so., 6-4, 245)
LG 63 Matt Schrafel (sr., 6-3, 275)
C 73 Travis Hook (sr., 6-4, 270)
RG 51 Greg Smith (fr., 6-1, 265)
RT 50 Ryan Collins (jr., 6-1, 245)
DE 15 Danny Samson (jr., 5-11, 255)
NG 91 Spencer Matlock (sr., 6-0, 285)
DE 5 Jack Shipley (sr., 6-3, 255)
OLB 22 Mike Young (sr., 5-11, 185)
ILB 44 Mitch Schroeder (jr., 6-0, 195)
ILB 47 Zac Miller (so., 5-10, 195)
OLB 48 Keith Rush (sr., 5-10, 210)
CB 10 Eric Larson (jr., 6-2, 175)
SS 8 Jacob Tune (jr., 6-1, 205)
FS 3 Jake Edleman (sr., 6-0, 185)
CB 20 Jason Breon (sr., 5-10, 175)
KO 16 Kevin Sheldon (jr., 6-0, 190 )
PAT/ 16 Kevin Sheldon (jr., 6-0, 190 )
P 18 Blaine Forsythe (so., 6-1, 195)
LS-P 22 Mike Young (sr., 5-11, 185)
LS-K 86 Drew Lindaman (so., 6-3, 225)
PR 14 Taylor Cox (so., 5-6, 155)
KR 28 Josh Osborn (jr., 5-9, 190)
6 Brendon Boerm (so., 6-0, 180)