NOV 24, 2018
BY: DANA BECKER, The Messenger Sports Reporter
With a 2-4 overall record coming off a 44-14 setback at Garden City, the Iowa Central football team had a choice to make.
The decision made by quarterback Blake Dever and the rest the Tritons led to five consecutive wins and a berth in the Dec. 2 Graphic Edge Bowl against Monroe in Cedar Falls.
Iowa Central also picked up several all-ICCAC and all-region honors recently, including a first team selection for Dever.
After starting his career at Savannah State, Dever transferred to Arkansas State University, where he used a redshirt last year.
Dever eventually decided to come north to become a Triton, helping lead the team to a No. 16 ranking and 7-4 record.
"This team came together after the Garden City game — as a family," said Dever, who is one of several players fielding offers to continue playing at the next level. "We finally bought into the system and listened to the coaches."
In recent years, the Tritons have struggled against teams from the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. This season, they picked up five wins over those programs, including a season-ending victory over then-No. 8 Hutchinson, 54-16.
Iowa Central also played No. 3 Iowa Western to one of its toughest games of the season, a 26-20 loss in Council Bluffs.
The Reivers are featured in the second Graphic Edge Bowl game next month at the UNI-Dome, while Garden City, now ranked second, takes on No. 1 East Mississippi for the national title.
"JUCO football in our league (the ICCAC and KJCCC have an agreement) is like our level's version of the SEC," Dever said. "You look around at all the teams we played this season, and most of them were ranked before or are still even ranked.
"Coach (Jesse) Montalto deserves a lot of credit for believing in me. That's made me a Triton forever."
Dever finished the regular season with 1,715 yards passing and 16 touchdowns, completing 61.5 percent of his throws. He had 10 touchdowns through the air over the final three games.
"It felt good to be back out on the field," Dever said. "One major thing in this offense is you have to buy in to the system we have, and run it the way coach tell us to. I have to give a huge shoutout to our offensive line because they kept working each week and continued to get better.
"Same with our receivers. They want the ball every time, but if they didn't get it, they were still down making key blocks to sustain drives that led to touchdowns."
Iowa Western, which claimed the league crown, swept the individual awards with other award with Nick Singleton earning Offensive Player of the Year and Elijah James Defensive Player of the Year. Scott Strohmeier was also tabbed Coach of the Year.
ALL-ICCAC, ALL-REGION FOOTBALL
Iowa Central — Draven Peeples, fr.; Rashad Witty, soph.; Mannie Greene, soph.; Myron Cunningham, soph.; Brishaun Horne, soph.; Jahkele Bascome, soph.; Spencer Cuvelier, rfr.; Daquan Cross, rfr.; Michael Slater, soph.; Luke Noonan, soph.; Devon Clark, soph.