116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Trenton Barnes is a running back by trade.
In an attempt to contribute for Coe as a freshman last season, he moved to receiver. He expected to resume that same role this year. All that changed the final week of summer break when his old position coach told him the plan was to return him to the backfield.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” said Barnes, from Madison, Ind. “I was happy to get to be able to help the team in the spot that they needed.
“I felt comfortable in camp. I’m just learning the plays at running back but I was happy to come back to it.”
Barnes provided an instant spark for the run game, rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown and helping the Kohawks throttle rival Cornell, 56-7, Saturday at Clark Field. Coe claimed its 22nd straight victory in the 131st meeting between the Bremner Cup schools.
“I feel good with the way our guys played,” Coe Coach Tyler Staker said. “I felt we played fast on both sides of the ball. We flew around and felt like we played a physical brand of football.
“We didn’t play a clean game. There are things we definitely need to improve on and clean up as we head into next week.”
Barnes said he feels more natural at running back. It didn’t take long for him to get reacquainted to the position. Once he got word of the change, he went right to work for fall camp.
“I kind of got prepared for it,” said Barnes, who had to overcome some preseason injuries. “Ever since then, it’s been smooth sailing.”
Actually, Barnes did all his damage in the first half, giving way to reserves for the second half with Coe ahead, 42-0, at the break.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder demonstrated his explosiveness, averaging 10 yards per carry. He had four carries for double-digit gains, including a 43-yard burst through the middle for a touchdown that gave Coe a 14-0 lead with 5:56 left in the first quarter.
“We were looking for him to have a big game for us and provide some firepower for us on offense,” Staker said. “He hit some holes really hard. He got out in the open field and busted some big runs. I was really happy in what we saw from Trenton today.”
Barnes happens to wear the No. 2 jersey, which is the same as last year’s starter, Alphonso Soko. Barnes may have answered any questions Staker had of him, taking over that spot.
“He did a good job,” Staker said. “We’re excited for him continuing to grow and develop at running back, because he’s still learning our offense. He had a really good game.”
Barnes was part of a rush attack that amassed 324 yards against a young Cornell defense. He gained yardage each time he touched the ball thanks to the “Big Uggs” up front. Barnes was quick to praise his blockers.
“It was really the offensive line,” Barnes said. “They were making holes you could drive trucks through. They were blocking great. They were making holes and I could hit them. It was free rein after that.”
The biggest transition is maneuvering through the mass of humanity between the tackles. He seemed to handle finding lanes well, but it is much different than the wide-open area on the edges.
“Just getting through the line,” Barnes said. “It can get real messy. Being at slot and receiver, you have a lot more space in the field you’re working with, so when you get back in the trenches it’s kind of tough. You have to get used to that again.”
The Kohawks pushed downfield before things got too messy. They averaged a whopping 6.4 yards per carry and six TDs on the ground. Coe’s Ray Seidel added 67 yards and two touchdowns, scoring on consecutive possessions in the second to make it 35-0. Caden Kleemier added 64 rushing yards in the second half.
“I thought those guys played well,” Staker said of the offensive line. “They took care of our quarterbacks. We rushed the ball really well and created some nice holes for our running backs to hit.”
Coe (1-0) passed for 190 yards. Nick Casey completed 9 of 13 passes for 106 yards, including a 24-yard score to Dominic Shepardson to open the scoring. Matthew Walton added 52 yards passing and rushed for a TD. Walton hit Cooper Zeck for an 11-yard score right before halftime and ran in from 1 yard out with 9:35 left in the third.
The Kohawks have a trio of quarterbacks that could contribute. Carter Maske also saw action under center and scored on a 1-yard TD in the fourth.
Coe’s defense was aggressive and dominant throughout the game. The Kohawks forced seven turnovers, including four fumble recoveries. With Cornell backed against its own goal line, Coe brought pressure with Brady Lyons knocking the ball out of quarterback Jordan Modrynski’s hands. Former Cascade prep and all-American Rivers Conference defensive end Alex Aitchison pounced on it for a TD.
Cornell (0-1) last beat Coe in 1999. The Rams managed just 189 yards of total offense, but did have three takeaways. The Rams also got on the board in the fourth, getting a 1-yard TD plunge from Joel Lacy.
Both teams are on the road next week. Cornell plays at Beloit (Wis.) College, while Coe travels to Hope (Mich.) College.