Staff writer, Kelly Weese, had the opportunity to travel with the COD football team to Council Bluffs, Iowa to face the third ranked team in the country, Iowa Western Community College.
BY KELLY WEESE // STAFF WRITER
Friday, Sept. 20
The road trip begins with a small breakfast for the team. At 7 a.m., the offense and defense split up onto two charter busses and start the six and a half hour journey to Council Bluffs. Although there was a movie playing, most of the players slept to pass the time. As the busses cross the Iowa border, the flat cornfields of Illinois turn into a countless number of rolling hills. After a quick restroom stop at the Iowa welcome center, the team is back on the road headed towards De Moines for a pregame walk-through practice.
The busses arrive at Drake University around noon. The players and coaches exit the bus and enter the locker room to change for practice. As they walk out onto the field, looks of excitement and adrenaline fill the player’s faces. “It feels good playing in a Division I stadium because we want to be playing at the Division I level someday,” quarterback Lamont Toney said.
While on road games, coach Foster takes the team to different universities to give them a feel for where they could be playing after COD. They have already visited Kinnick Stadium at the University of Iowa and soon, they will visit University of Minnesota’s TFC Bank Stadium.
During practice, special teams and personnel groups were the main focus points. Coach Foster ended the practice with a small speech and directed the players out of Drake Stadium and onto a tour of the campus. The tour ended in a dining hall where lunch was served; it didn’t take long before all of the food was gone.
The busses depart from Drake with full-bellied players and coaches. A little over two hours later, we arrive at the Council Bluffs Quality Inn. Players are assigned to their rooms and given some free time before the team dinner and meeting. Coach Foster gives a very motivational speech about how the team is about to enter a heavy weight fight with Iowa Western before he ends the meeting. The players were then sent off to their individual coaches for meetings specific to their position. From there, plays and film were studied and some were even required to take a pregame test. Players were in their rooms by 10 p.m. with lights out at 11.
Saturday, Sept. 21
An early wake up call comes at 7 a.m. and the hotel serves a continental breakfast. The busses load at 10 a.m. and head toward the football field at Lewis Central High School where Iowa Western plays. The next-door middle school gym serves as the Chaps’ locker room.
After the long journey, it was finally time for kick- off. Iowa Western’s band has a short performance before the Reivers took the field. The Chaps defense matched the Reivers flashy entrance by stopping them on the first drive of the game. On the following punt, the Chaps were penalized for having 12 men on the field, giving Iowa Western a new set of downs. The defense would stop Iowa once again, forcing them to punt. This time the Chaps offense would actually get the ball.
Before the game, punter Luke Nelson said, “special teams is our strength, the game will come down to special teams.” Nelson ended up having a huge game punting for the Chaps, forcing the Reivers to start drives deep in their own territory.
Both teams had their share of possession in the first quarter until the Reivers scored the game’s first points. Iowa Western scored with three minutes left in the quarter on a 35-yard run making the score 6-0 after a missed PAT attempt. Unfortunately, the game would continue on a downward slope for the Chaparrals.
Offensively, the Chaps lacked an identity. The few number of big plays were shadowed by a great amount of penalties. By the end of the game, the Reivers held the offense to 161 total yards. Defensively, the Chaps were stellar. They held Iowa Western to only 13 points going into halftime. The fact that they were only down 13-0 kept Chaparral spirits high.
COD opened the half with the ball but stalled after a short drive; forced to punt. The Reivers would score quickly with 8:41 left in the third quarter. While trying to make a change in the offensive production, the Chaps put in new quarterback, Kyle Brown. On his first passing attempt, Brown was intercepted and the Reivers returned it for a touch- down. Iowa Western scored twice in 23 seconds, stabbing a dagger into the Chaps sideline. The Reivers would add one final score late in the third, making the score 33-0. A scoreless fourth quarter bitterly ended the game for the Chaparrals, whose record now stands at 2-2.
Game highlights were interceptions by defensive backs Thomas Burton and Denard Turner. The constant harassment of the Iowa quarterback was credited to linebacker Devin Coney and defensive end Shaq Hall. After the game, Burton said, ”we need to practice harder and watch film. We get to play Iowa Western one more time.”
The players showered and boarded the busses. Pizza was passed out and the busses were back on the road headed for COD. On the bus, Shaq Hall commented,” missed assignments plays a big role when you play a great team. We need to come back and correct our mistakes to prepare for Ellsworth.”
Although the Chaps’ championship chances are dwindling, they still have another shot at redemp- tion against Iowa Western later in the season. Going into this Saturday’s game against Ellsworth, coach Foster has to find a way to get the offense going again. With a 2-2 record, the team will look to keep their postseason hopes alive Saturday on their home turf at 1 p.m.