VAN HORNE — Through the early portion of the prep football season, Benton Community is proving to be quite the load to handle.
The unbeaten Class 2A No. 9 Bobcats can run the ball, they possess the most prolific passer in school history and are difficult to score upon, all under the direction of a first-year head coach in Jeff Zittergruen.
“The kids have really done a good job of just continuing to work on doing what we need to do on a daily basis and focusing on each day,” Zittergruen said. “We are not trying to change anything as far as what we are built on as a program. We focus on toughness and being disciplined in what we are trying to do. The kids have kind of taken that and run with it.”
Zittergruen, 33, was elevated to head coach after five years as the Benton defensive coordinator. He replaced Kal Goodchild, who led the Bobcats for 23 years over two stints. Prior to Benton, Zittergruen spent five years with the Cedar Rapids Prairie program.
For Zittergruen, Benton is home.
“The one thing that is really helpful is I am from Benton Community so I understand the tradition of Bobcat football,” said Zittergruen, a 2004 Benton grad who played two varsity football seasons for Goodchild. “I pride myself on building relationships with kids and being able to do that. Coaching these guys since they have been in middle school at different levels was tough and seeing them work their way up through the program, there is a lot of familiarity there. A lot of comfort.”
Benton (2-0) reached the state quarterfinals last season and is off to a dominating start in 2019. The Bobcats opened the season with a 51-7 home victory over South Tama, then blanked Cascade on the road Friday, 30-0, in a game in which senior quarterback Clay Krousie broke the school record with 402 passing yards in a single game.
“That is a great accomplishment for me, but overall it really goes back to the O-line,” Krousie said. “The time that they gave me and the receivers catching some of those balls. Some of them were off target, but they just make me look good most of the time.”
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Benton sophomore tailback Lawrence Wallace has run for 146 yards and two TDs through two games, while three different receivers (seniors Turner Schroeder and Blake Osborn, plus sophomore Jacob Brecht) have tallied at least 135 receiving yards. The defense has allowed just seven total points.
Maquoketa off and running
Four times in the last five seasons, the Maquoketa football program finished the season with no more than one win. That trend appears to be changing.
With a 29-7 home victory against DeWitt Central on Friday, the Cardinals are 2-0 for the first time since 2012. Maquoketa opened the season with a 42-21 win at Anamosa.
Tailbacks Kannon Coakley (128 yards) and Ryne Gruenwald (111) lead a strong Maquoketa running attack.
Lisbon's new digs
Last year, Lisbon voters approved a $9.2 million bond for updated classrooms, a new auditorium, a new football field and an expanded campus. The ongoing renovations to the football field will not be completed until after the 2019 season, so the Lions will inhabit Van Metre Field at Ash Park on the campus of Cornell College this year.
That union began Friday, but it was visiting North Tama who looked at home with a 14-0 victory over winless Lisbon.
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