PELLA, Iowa—For the Central College football team to have a shot at another Iowa Conference title, the Dutch must first come away winners over Buena Vista Univ. at Storm Lake Saturday.
It's the season's final regular-season road game for Central (7-1 overall, 5-1 conference), coming off a 27-6 sacking of Loras College at Pella last Saturday. Buena Vista (3-4 overall, 2-3 conference) was held off by Luther College 26-20 last week. The Dutch remain in second place in the conference with only Saturday's game and a Nov. 6 contest with Wartburg College left on the schedule.
"We only have two games left for sure for our seniors," coach Jeff McMartin said. "We want to play our best football. Now is the time to do it."
Game time is 1 p.m. at J. Leslie Rollins Stadium in Storm Lake.
On the air, on the Web—Trevor Castle will call the play-by-play of Saturday's game on KRLS-FM (92.1) and the broadcast can also be accessed through Central's website at www.central.edu/athletics or through www.kniakrls.com.
Rankings—Central remains at No. 18 in the D3football.com top 25.
The series—Central blanked Buena Vista 17-0 at Pella last year and has won the last six games in the series, which the Dutch lead 51-11. Central hasn't lost at Storm Lake since 1960, a span of 25 games.
The Beavers—Buena Vista is limited opponents to 283.6 yards per game, including just 102.6 yards rushing. The Beavers have picked off 13 passes. Junior defensive back Danny Pattee has four interceptions and freshman defensive back Dalton Keane has three. Junior free safety Alan Bladt and senior linebacker Brian Bode share the team tackles lead with 61.
"This will be a great challenge for us," coach Jeff McMartin said. "Buena Vista's a good football team. They've got a very talented defense. They don't give up a lot of yards. They really make it hard on you."
Sophomore quarterback Bo Darrow has completed 89 of 195 passes for 1,181 yards with five touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Sophomore wide receiver Logan Lehrkamp has 26 receptions for 369 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore running back John Hill leads the rushing attack with 53.3 yards per game and three touchdowns.
"They've been able to attack people a lot of different ways," McMartin said. "They've got a talented quarterback and a good offensive line. I've been very impressed with what I've seen from the line."
Weather is often a factor at Buena Vista, where the winds come off nearby Storm Lake.
"The first year I was there (as head coach) it was beautiful and the last time we were there it snowed," McMartin said. "With the wind off the lake, you've got to plan for everything."
Versatility—Central has won in a variety of fashions this year and did it with defense Saturday, limiting Loras to 101 yards of offense, including minus 20 yards rushing. It was the second time this year that the Dutch have limited a foe to negative rushing yards.
"We keep finding different ways to do it each week, it seems like," McMartin said. "We still haven't played a complete game, but when we've needed guys to step up, that's happened."
After intercepting just two passes in the season's first seven games, Central intercepted three Saturday and set a school record with 11 quarterback sacks.
"Whenever you break a record at this school, in this program, you've done something special," McMartin said. "You can evaluate it a lot of ways, but it wasn't just one guy getting it done. It was a lot of different players doing it."
Free safety Jake Petersen (junior, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) had two interceptions for 84 yards, including a 58-yard return for a first-quarter touchdown. Cornerback Adam Petz (junior, Williamsburg) also had a pick.
"Those were important for the team," McMartin said. "All three resulted in in scores. I was really happy for those guys. They've worked very hard.
"Playing defensive back can be fun, but it's also a great challenge. It's like being a long snapper. If you make a mistake, it's noticed. But our defensive backs made some great plays this week."
Central was without two offensive weapons for most of the way Saturday as running back Ross Doehrmann (sophomore, Williamsburg) and quarterback Nate Snead (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) are nursing injuries. But quarterback Zack Bandow (senior, Manilla, IKM HS), who has spent most of the year at wide receiver, stepped in, completing 14 of 26 passes for 154 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Meanwhile S-back Preston West (junior, Swisher, Cedar Rapids Prairie HS) switched to running back and gained 60 yards on 14 carries while Kyle Wood (junior, Newton) rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries.
"With the type of defense Loras was playing, in the second half we needed to attack it differently so we decided to see what (West) could do. He's a different type of runner than Kyle Wood or Erik Grunder (sophomore, Wilton) and he got hot, so we were riding him."
Dutch numbers—An 11-sack day does wonders for the team defensive statistics. Central has taken over the pass sacks lead in the Iowa Conference with 29. The Dutch are also first in rushing defense (78.1 yards allowed per game) and total defense (258.1 yards). Central is first in third-down conversions (50.4 percent, 57-113), fourth-down conversions (68.8 percent, 11-16) and possession time (32:51).
Individually, Mike Furlong (junior, Davenport, Assumption HS) leads in punt returns (10.6 yards per return) while defensive lineman Shane Wong (senior, Pleasant Hill, Southeast Polk HS) is first in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (12.0).
Kicker Jake Viggers (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) remains in first in field goals (1.12 per game, 9-14) and extra points (100 percent, 37-37). Viggers, who already holds the school career field goals mark with 37, is making a run at the career field goal percentage mark as well. He's connected on 64.3 percent this season and 70 percent (37-50) for his career. Matt Schulte set the career mark of 61.5 percent (24-39) from 1983-85.
Kurtis Brondyke's (senior, Clinton) third-quarter punt Saturday may still be rolling. It bounded out of the end zone but went down as an 86-yarder. Aside from being a career best, it's just short of the school record 88-yard punt of Vern Boelkens against Dubuque in 1956. Brondyke's kick boosted his season average to 43.1 yards, ranking second in the conference. The school season average record is 41.8 yards by Joel Buseman in 1996. Buseman's 42.6-yard average in conference games in 1996 is a league mark. Brondyke's previous best season average was 40.6 yards in 2008, which ranks third in Central history.
Notes—A win Saturday would assure the Dutch of no worse than a two-loss year. Central has lost more than two games in a season just twice three times since 1980… With one TD in his shortened appearance Saturday, Snead matched last season's total of 15 rushing touchdowns. That's tied for fourth in school history.
QB 6 Nate Snead (jr., 6-2, 225)
RB 27 Kyle Wood (jr., 5-11, 180)
SB 19 Jarred Lackey (sr., 6-1, 225)
TE 18 Jordan Leuschen (sr., 6-5, 230)
WR 3 Jeremy Snead (jr., 6-2, 215)
WR 5 Brett Wilkin (jr., 5-9, 170)
LT 75 Lee Schroeder (sr., 6-6, 300)
LG 52 A.J. Santon (sr., 6-1, 285)
C 68 Casey Tanner (jr., 6-0, 270)
RG 60 Nate Rouse (jr., 6-2, 260)
RT 74 Joey Shoemaker (sr., 6-4, 285)
DE 57 Aaron Steenhoek (sr., 6-1, 215)
NG 94 Brady Hill (jr., 6-3, 235)
DT 96 Austin Hill (sr., 6-5, 255)
DE 53 Shane Wong (sr., 6-0, 230)
LB 8 Greg Best (sr., 6-2, 225)
LB 46 Cole Henderson (sr., 6-0, 220)
LB 47 Patrick Kelley (jr., 5-11, 215)
CB 20 Jason Breon (so., 5-9, 165)
CB 1 Adam Petz (jr., 6-0, 180)
4 Jake Petersen
(jr., 5-10, 195)
FS 28 Ryan Schmidt (jr., 5-10, 175)
Kickoff: 87 Kurtis Brondyke (sr., 6-4, 195)
PAT/FG: 2 Jake Viggers (sr., 5-10, 155)
Holder: 5 Brett Wilkin (jr., 5-9, 170)
Punter: 87 Kurtis Brondyke (sr., 6-4, 195)
Punt return: 5 Brett Wilkin (jr., 5-9, 170)/11 Mike Furlong (jr., 6-0, 180)
Kickoff return: 5 Brett Wilkin (jr., 5-9, 170)/11 Mike Furlong (jr., 6-0, 180)
Long snapper: 48 Keith Rush (so., 5-9, 185)