116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Coe hosts Central for crucial American Rivers Conference football game
Kohawks coming off bye week to face league leading Dutch
CEDAR RAPIDS — Coe Coach Tyler Staker doesn’t subscribe to the idea of must-win football games.
He wants to win them all with an emphasis on getting better each week. So, let’s refer to this week’s game against American Rivers Conference leader Central a much-needed victory.
“They are most definitely the team to beat in the conference,” Staker said. “All games are must-win games, in my opinion. You have to work hard and execute to win the ballgame and that’s what we prepare for each week.”
The Kohawks will attempt to keep their league and postseason chances intact when they face the 11th-ranked Dutch on Saturday at Clark Field, beginning at 1 p.m. Coe is 3-1 overall, but 1-1 in the A-R-C, while Central is 5-0 with three conference victories.
Loras (3-0) and Dubuque (2-0) are between Coe and Central. Wartburg is also 1-1. Coe needs a win to keep pace.
“For us, it’s a game we definitely want to win coming off the bye week and playing against the top team standing alone in the conference right now, with how they’re playing,” Staker said. “It’s a game we’re excited about and can’t ready to get on the field to compete.”
Both offenses rank among the A-R-C leaders. The Kohawks are third in overall offense, averaging 409 yards per game including 214 through the air. Alphonso Soko leads the conference with 560 rushing yards, despite only four games due to last week’s bye. He also ranks second in scoring.
“Coe’s having a great year and has a very talented football team,” Central Coach Jeff McMartin said. “They have some special players and they’re in the thick of the race right now.”
Central is almost in a class of its own. The Dutch lead the conference in rushing and passing and are tops nationally in total offense, first downs and second in scoring offense.
The Dutch rush for 248.6 yards per game (34 more yards a game than No. 2 Coe) and pass for almost 364 yards a contest. Quarterback Blaine Hawkins has scorched opponents, passing for 1,468 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has completed 74.6 percent of his throws with a 227.5 efficiency rating.
“Blaine Hawkins is incredible,” Staker said. “He hasn’t thrown an interception all year long. We’re going to have to get to Blaine. We’re going to have to be able to create pressure to put him in a tough spot where he will have to make a quick decision and try to force a takeaway.”
McMartin said the Kohawks offer a tough challenge, recording 10 sacks through four games and limiting teams to 101 rushing yards and 19 points per game, which is just two more than the Dutch allow.
“They’ll give you both a four-man and a three-man look from their defensive line, which is tremendous all the way across the board,” McMartin said. “They have one of the best defensive lines in the conference. Their linebackers do a great job and are very physical. Their secondary each week just continues to make plays and does a good job of keeping teams off the scoreboard.”
Coe’s offense will be a key as well. The Kohawks don’t just have to produce points to keep up with the Dutch, but keep them off the field and the defense fresh. Coe quarterback Carter Maske averages 127 yards per game and will need to prevent Central from focusing on Soko, using Dominic Shepardson and Amel Saric in the pass game.
“It will be big for our offense to extend drives and pick up first downs,” Staker said. “I think that is equally important for this matchup.”
Both teams defeated Simpson. The Kohawks notched a 42-22 victory over the Storm. The Dutch hammered the Storm, 84-16, and Wartburg, 49-24, the last two weeks. Wartburg beat Coe, 28-7, two weeks ago.
Coe used the extra time in the film room for self-scouting and to analyze play calls on both sides of the ball.
“You get an extra week of preparation for a really good ball club,” Staker said. “I feel it was an advantage for us.
“The energy has been good. Our guys are excited to play. We put in two really good weeks of practice. Our guys have been great, really locked in and focused. We’re ready to go compete.”