CEDAR RAPIDS — Logan Rickard admits this game is personal.
The former Lisbon standout said the intense rivalry between his hometown and nearby Mount Vernon made it tough to consider the school located just a mile away.
Coe was able to pluck Rickard out Cornell College’s backyard and now the Kohawks captain will make his final appearance in the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.
“I followed some old Lisbon friends to Coe (and) I love it,” said Rickard, a fifth-year senior. “This is my last time playing Cornell. I think it’s also pretty awesome being under the lights, too.”
Coe will make history with its first night game at Clark Field when it hosts Cornell in the 129th edition of the traditional series Saturday at 7. The Kohawks own a 73-51-4 overall advantage, winning the last 19 games against the Rams.
“Our guys know this is a big game,” Coe Coach Tyler Staker said. “It means a lot to our program, the Coe community and the alumni. They know the importance of the football game.”
The 6-foot, 220-pound linebacker has friends on the Cornell roster. Former Lisbon teammate Blake Langhurst is a big-play receiving threat and Chris Chapman has been a pillar on the offensive line. Good-natured trash talking has occurred.
“I give them a little chip every now and then,” Rickard said with a laugh. “It’s all in good fun. They give it right back.”
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Rickard was a versatile two-way player as a prep. He earned all-state honors at quarterback as a senior and at linebacker as a junior. Rickard has played defense exclusively for the Kohawks. After limited action his first season, he played in 10 games as a sophomore, tallying 29 tackles with an interception and a forced fumble.
Last year, Rickard had a breakout season with 42.5 total tackles, including 27 solo stops. The second-team all-American Rivers Conference defender added 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
He opened this season with 4.5 tackles and one for a against Augustana (Ill.) last week.
“Logan is a really smart player,” Staker said. “He has a football mind. He is savvy. He understands where to be on certain plays. He gets a feel for the game.”
Rickard has an old-school linebacker look and the personality to match. He has a rugged look with a full, bushy beard that Staker said resembles a character from the reality TV show, “Duck Dynasty.”
“I just felt my team deserves better than a baby-faced linebacker, who eats using silverware,” Rickard said.
Staker added, “That’s his look and who he is. I don’t know what’s up with the big beard he’s got going on. He’s rocking it.”
Rickard’s role has evolved. The explosive pass rusher went from playing a part in the defense to being a leader. He said he has made his biggest strides in communication and leadership, attempting to bring the defense together and making sure they are all on the same page.
“There are some things Logan does for us that is really special,” Staker said. “The guys look to him for leadership. They look to him for direction and to set the tone on defense. Those are all things he does well.”
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The Rams opened the season with a 33-6 victory over Iowa Wesleyan at home. Cornell used a balanced attack, amassing 430 (219 passing, 211 rushing) yards offensively. The Rams haven’t beaten Coe since 1999.
“They know we’re going to get Cornell’s best punch,” Staker said. “Our preparation needs to be really good. We need to be locked in, focused and not worry about what happened the previous year or the one before that.”
This game marks the fourth time Coe and Cornell have played a night game, but the previous three have been at Ash Park in Mount Vernon. The Kohawks used the lights previously for the occasional practice, but not for competition.
“The game-time atmosphere is going to be a whole lot different and more exciting with Cornell coming to town,” Rickard said. “Having the rivalry adds a little extra to the game. You can feel the energy building at practice throughout the week. I think our guys are pretty excited and I’m pretty excited, too.”
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