CEDAR RAPIDS — The Coe Kohawks' fate rests in their own hands and a conference title remains at the end of their fingertips.
Coe finds itself in that very situation, but the Kohawks know they have their hands full with three of the top four American Rivers Conference football teams to close the regular season.
“Ever since the schedule was released, we saw this as kind of a gauntlet, going through the toughest three teams in the conference we face yearly,” Coe senior Logan Rickard said about games against Simpson, Wartburg and Central. “We put ourselves in a position that if we win out we have a really good shot at taking the conference title. We control our own destiny.
“Time is winding down on the season. What better way can you have a season go than to have the conference title within your grasp.”
Coe’s challenging stretch begins Saturday with a Homecoming game versus Simpson at Clark Field, starting at 1 p.m. Survive the Storm and 12th-ranked Wartburg awaits followed by a finale with the Dutch.
“Anytime you’re able to control your own destiny is nice,” Coe Coach Tyler Staker said. “We also understand that there is a lot of football left to be played. We’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
The Knights (7-0, 5-0) lead the league, while Simpson (4-2, 3-1) and Central (5-1, 3-1) are tied for third. Coe (5-2, 4-1) is sandwiched between them. The Kohawks are 1-5 against those three teams the last two seasons, recording a season-ending victory over Central a year ago.
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“We had these last three games kind of circled at the end of the schedule, because these teams are all really good,” Coe quarterback Quentin White said. “At the end of the day, we’re just trying to play good football and take care of business on our end. It’s not going to be easy.”
Coe has won its last two games, including a 56-21 victory at Nebraska Wesleyan. The Kohawks amassed a season-high 574 yards, including 404 passing. White accounted for all of the yards through the air, earning A-R-C Athlete of the Week honors. He threw for four touchdowns, hitting brother, Colton White, 14 times for 172 yards and three scores.
“That was a confidence boost for us,” Staker said. “Being able to click on all cylinders was fun. Now, the goal is to take that performance from last week and build on that going into this week and fine tuning the little things that we need to do to take care of business on Saturday.”
One of the key matchups is Coe’s defense and Simpson’s rush attack. Coe ranks first in the A-R-C, allowing just 103.7 yards per game. Simpson’s offense averages 169 yards on the ground, which is third in the conference.
“I think their offensive line is really good,” Staker said. “They move well, they’re physical and they have some really good running backs and use those guys well. Our defense has defended the run and has done a good job stuffing it, only giving up about 2.4 yards per carry.
“That will be a good game within the game to see how we hold up against their rush offense and if we’re able to control the line of scrimmage.”
The Kohawks do have a chance to run the table for their first conference title since an undefeated 2016 regular season. Coe was picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll. Staker said he has seen teams picked fifth win it, while predicted champs finish middle of the pack.
Three of those teams selected to finish ahead of Coe are on the horizon.
“They’re good squads and they’re not going to just hand it to us,” White said. “We’re going to have to go out there and prove it. I’m excited about it.
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“I think the atmosphere is going to be awesome. Our guys are going to be ready to rock.”
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