116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS – Coe football has won three straight games.
The Kohawks sit in a four-team cluster for second behind Central College, which clinched the American Rivers Conference title and automatic playoff berth last week.
Coe Coach Tyler Staker hasn’t concerned himself with the hypotheticals during the next two weeks that could lead to a runner-up finish and possible wildcard playoff berth, leading up to Saturday’s game against Buena Vista at Clark Field.
“To be honest, I haven’t really looked at it all that close,” Staker said. “I just haven’t spent a lot of time on how these next two weeks can all play out and all the different scenarios. We’ve just been focused on BV and preparing for what we are going to see on Saturday.”
The conference may not get an at-large berth with the four teams having at least two losses, but the only one to have a chance will the be the runner-up.
Coe and Buena Vista are tied with Wartburg and University of Dubuque with two games remaining in the regular season. Each is 4-2 in the A-R-C with the Kohawks posting the best overall record at 6-2.
If Wartburg wins out, the Knights will hold on to second. They face Nebraska Wesleyan and Simpson the last two weeks. Coe needs to win this week and at Nebraska Wesleyan in the regular season, in addition to some help.
Last week made things interesting. Coe topped Dubuque, 34-27. Buena Vista shocked the conference with a 24-20 victory over Wartburg, which owns the head-to-head edge over the Kohawks.
“The win at Dubuque was a really good team win,” Staker said. “It felt like it was a pivotal point in our season.
“On paper, both teams were very similar. I’m just really happy for our players, coaches, program on getting a win on the road at a tough place against a quality team.”
Coe built a 20-0 lead, scoring twice off turnovers early. The Kohawks added a touchdown in the third and fourth. Senior linebacker Manny Lopez was named A-R-C Defensive Player of the Week. We tallied 12 total tackles, broke up a pass, recovered a fumbled that set up one of the Kohawks’ first-half scores and intercepted a late pass to seal the victory.
“Manny had a great game,” Staker said. “He was all over the field. He had a lot of really big plays for us. I’m happy for Manny, and our whole defense played great.”
The Kohawks moved from one crucial game to another. The Beavers have won three straight games and have scored 124 total points during that stretch. Buena Vista is powered by a pass attack that includes the A-R-C’s top receiver. Eric Pacheco leads the league with 1,025 yards on 62 receptions, averaging 128.1 yards per game. His 10 touchdowns ranks second in the conference.
“They’re explosive on offense,” Staker said. “They have a lot of really good weapons with Eric Pacheco. Their quarterback (Brandon Kyles) is a good player. He’s a distributor and gets it out to a lot of guys. He is able to tuck it and run.
“We know what we’re up against. We know it’s going to be a hard-fought ball game. Our guys are up for the challenge.”