OCT 27, 2018
BY: DANA BECKER, The Messenger Sports Reporter
INDEPENDENCE, Kan. — The Iowa Central football team will try to utilize a phrase made popular on social media here this Saturday night.
The Tritons take on Independence with a special 9 p.m. kickoff from Emmot Field in what the Pac-12 Conference would tag as "After Dark."
Neewollah is the reason for the late start, as the town of Independence celebrates the annual festival over the last week of October. The event started back in 1919 and has taken place every year since as a celebration around Halloween.
"We'll try to keep everything as normal as possible, but (the late kickoff) is new to all of us," ICCC head coach Jesse Montalto said. "The biggest thing will be trying to keep control of our emotions and just focus on playing football."
Iowa Central (4-4 overall) secured the first part of its path to returning to the Graphic Edge Bowl in December by besting Ellsworth last week, 28-0. Justin Blake received his second start at quarterback, running for 108 yards with three touchdowns and adding 93 passing yards on a windy day inside Dodger Stadium.
Blake helped the Tritons rack up over 600 yards two weeks ago vs. Dodge City in a 58-7 victory, as the Tritons have their first win streak since 2014 when they also topped Dodge City and Ellsworth in back-to-back weeks.
On the year, Blake has 825 yards passing with eight touchdowns to go along with 473 yards rushing and seven scores. Draven Peeples has 440 yards rushing and Emmanuel Logan-Greene leads the way in receiving with 42 receptions and 548 yards.
"We're pretty healthy outside of a couple of backups," Montalto said. "We've been trying to keep things moving forward in practice."
Spencer Cuvelier anchors the Iowa Central defense with a team-high 70 tackles, including 15.5 for loss. Michael Slater has 11.5 tackles for loss and Daquan Cross has recorded five sacks, forced three fumbles, made 54 tackles and scored a defensive touchdown.
The Pirates (1-6) have lost six consecutive games since topping Dodge City in the opener, 38-20. That includes losses to third-ranked Iowa Western and No. 19 Butler.
Four of the six losses for Independence have come by 10 points or less, including a three-point defeat to Butler and a four-point setback to Coffeyville.
The school is being featured for a second year on the Netflix series "Last Chance U." Head coach Jason Brown, who was at the center of most of the headlines from the first season, was suspended last week vs. Coffeyville.
"We know this is a game Independence wants to win," Montalto said. "They had a lot of movement with coaches and players over the past year, but they are still a very talented team.
"And our kids know this is the 'Last Chance U' team, so they are fired up to play them with everything that goes with that."
Chase Hildreth has received the most snaps at quarterback, as he is completing 47 percent of his passes for 823 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions. Malik Henry, who started his career at Florida State, has 229 yards passing but has not played since late last month.
Davijuan Dean leads the team with 266 yards rushing in two games, while Markiese King has 20 receptions for 399 yards and four scores.
The Pirate defense features Jamar Montgomery, who has six sacks, Kuony Deng, who has 37 tackles, and former North Fayette Valley prep standout Juan Harris, who committed to Iowa three times but never signed.