MOUNT PLEASANT – Opening the home portion of their 2010 schedule, the Iowa Wesleyan College football team starts a difficult three-game stretch against ranked teams with a matchup against Coe College Saturday evening at Mapleleaf Stadium.
The Tigers will take on a Kohawks team ranked 12th in the D3football.com NCAA Division III preseason poll and will face their visitors in the first-ever Old Threshers Bowl. The game is taking place during the weekend of the annual Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant, and IWC and Old Threshers have partnered this year for a game that will include the two teams playing for the first-ever Old Threshers trophy.
The game against Coe marks the start of a brutal next three games for the Tigers. Next week IWC hosts St. Francis (Ind.), ranked 17th in the initial NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, and the following week the Tigers travel to face McKendree, ranked eighth in the NAIA.
Wesleyan comes into its home opener after starting its season with a 16-6 loss last weekend at Trinity International (Ill.) The Tigers committed five turnovers and missed out on several golden scoring opportunities while TIU scored all 16 of its points in the second half to spoil the debut of IWC Head Coach Kent Anderson.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – Coe was one of the surprises of the Iowa Conference and all of NCAA Division III last season and had one of the best seasons in school history. The Kohawks were predicted to finish seventh in conference but instead finished second and advanced to the second round of the Division III playoffs, capping the year with a 10-2 record. Head Coach Steve Staker was named conference coach of the year and also received the Liberty Mutual Division III National Coach of the Year award.
Coe has an experienced team returning this season and has been ranked in the top 20 in most preseason polls of NCAA Division III, including 18th by The Sporting News and 20th by USA Today. The Kohawks return last year’s Iowa Conference MVP in Brad Boyle, a junior quarterback who threw for 2,639 yards and 19 touchdowns last year and also rushed for 337 yards and 15 touchdowns. The offense returns a total of 10 starters, including all five offensive linemen. The defense returns defensive lineman Frank Weymiller, who as a freshman last year was named Honorable Mention All-American and ranked among the nation’s leaders in sacks.
SERIES HISTORY – Though the two schools are separated by little more than an hour, this is only the seventh meeting ever between Coe and Iowa Wesleyan. The Kohawks lead the series 4-2 and won the last meeting back in 1985 by a 42-21 score in IWC’s season opener. That matchup capped a run of four straight years when the two teams played, splitting four games from 1982-85. The teams first met in 1915, with Coe pasting the Tigers by a 69-0 score.
TRINITY REVIEW – IWC was done in by turnovers and a poor third quarter in its loss to Trinity International in the opener. The Tigers had two opportunities deep in TIU territory in the first half, getting inside the Trojans’ 5-yard line twice but coming away with zero points. Wesleyan missed a field goal in its first trip and fumbled on the one-yard line on the second drive. The game was tied 0-0 at halftime, but an IWC turnover in its own territory early in the third quarter provided the turning point. Trinity would convert that into a field goal, then after a Tiger punt went 34 yard in two plays for its first touchdown. TIU then added another score on the second play of the fourth quarter.
In all the Tigers fumbled twice and quarterbacks Brett Brodersen (So.-Visalia, Calif.) and Kevin McConnell (So.-Kansas City, Mo.) were intercepted a total of three times. The main bright spot offensively was Harrison Ballard, who rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown. The Wesleyan defense also limited TIU to 260 yards of offense, and linebackers Cameron Jones (Jr.-O’Fallon, Ill.) and Chris Owens (Sr.-Greer, S.C.) in particular had big games. Jones had a game-high 11 tackles and two fumble recoveries, while Owens added 10 tackles, including 2 1/2 for loss.
PROTECTING THE BALL – It would be hard to imagine a team being more frugal about turning the ball over than Coe was last year. The Kohawks committed just 10 turnovers over their 12 games last year, including just four interceptions thrown. Boyle in particular threw just one interception in 345 pass attempts and set a new NCAA record in throwing 307 passes last year before his first interception.
MORE OFFENSE NEEDED – IWC’s offense sputtered in the opener, gaining just 211 yards. Making that total more alarming was that more than half of that yardage came on two plays: a 55-yard run by Ballard in the second quarter and a 52-yard pass from McConnell to Marc Ballatori (Fr.-Tequesta, Fla.) late in the fourth quarter that led to the Tigers’ touchdown. There is little doubt the Tigers will need more offense on Saturday to keep up with a powerful and experienced Coe offense.
OLD THRESHERS? – Those not natives of Mount Pleasant or familiar with the area may wonder exactly what Old Threshers is about. The Old Threshers Reunion is held every year over Labor Day weekend at McMillan Park, which once was the home of IWC football games. The event is in its 60th year and is a celebration of the Midwestern and American heritage, featuring exhibits of tractors, steam engines, antiques and cars and trucks, to name a few of the items featured. Old Threshers annually brings over 40,000 people to the Mount Pleasant area and is one of the biggest events of its kind in the Midwest.
ON THE AIRWAVES – Saturday’s game will be broadcast on the radio and online in both the Mount Pleasant and Cedar Rapids areas. KILJ 105.5 FM in Mount Pleasant will provide an IWC broadcast of the game, with John Kuhens handling the play-by-play. The game will also air in Cedar Rapids on KMJM AM 1360, with Coe College announcer Jerry Kiwala calling the game.
For more information regarding the IWC football program or any of the Tiger athletic teams, contact sports information director Adam Glatczak (319-385-6306 phone; 319-385-6384 FAX; email@example.com e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics Web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.
Complete IWC-Coe Game Notes