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Minor League Sports

Nick Brassell, Cedar Rapids River Kings ready to tackle winless Bismarck Bucks

Indoor Football League game is Saturday at 6:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center

Cedar Rapids River Kings defensive back Nick Brassell (11) tackles Ryan Balentine of the Iowa Barnstormers (1) during the first half of an Indoor Football League at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, March 30, 2019. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids River Kings defensive back Nick Brassell (11) tackles Ryan Balentine of the Iowa Barnstormers (1) during the first half of an Indoor Football League at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, March 30, 2019. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Last week, the Cedar Rapids River Kings were the first team to lose an Indoor Football League game to the expansion San Diego Strike Force.

With another winless team — the 0-6 Bismarck Bucks — descending upon the U.S. Cellular Center for a game Saturday night at 6:05, the River Kings (1-6) are committed to not ending a second team’s winless streak.

“A lot of guys took the one last week personal,” Cedar Rapids defensive back Nick Brassell said. “We’ve got to come out every week and just do our job. We’re going to come out with this win this week. … This week, when we came to practice, everybody was on point. Everybody was flying around. Everybody was in the film session being active and in practice, being active and vocal. Everybody is in tune with everything now, so I really feel good about where we are heading.”

Brassell has been a welcome returner to a River Kings pass defense that ranks third in the IFL with 141.9 yards allowed per game. After missing the first four games of the season with a strained muscle, Brassell has recorded 24 tackles, one interception and a touchdown return of a missed field goal in three games.

“That is our goal to try to limit the touchdowns,” Brassell said. “That is one thing we take pride in is not giving up any touchdowns, any bombs, things like that. We just try to hold it down on that end. We’ve just got to put it all together as a team, just play one, good full game and just try to pull out the win.”

Brassell played both offense and defense as freshman at Mississippi in 2011, but was derailed by academic issues. This is Brassell’s third season in the IFL after playing the 2016 and 2018 seasons with the Nebraska Danger.

“He’s a long kid, he’s athletic,” Cedar Rapids Coach Mark Stoute said. “He has a good feel for what an offense is trying to do because he was a receiver himself. It just gives him a little bit more insight into the workings of an offensive team and what they are trying to do.”

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The Cedar Rapids offensive line has taken a hit with players receiving interest from other leagues. Lenicio Noble was signed by the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League, while Kyle Saxelid is training for the Canadian Football League draft later this month, where he could be the first IFL player ever selected in the first round.

In addition, the Baltimore Brigade (AFL) signed away Cedar Rapids kicker Henry Nell.

“We’ve had to replace a lot of pretty good football players,” Stoute said. “It just takes time to get it done.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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