A different season, different head coach and the best aspect is different results.
After a winless record a year ago, North Cedar has opened the 2013 prep football season 2-0 under new head coach Charlie Feller. The Knights trounced North-Linn, 42-14, at home Friday night after blanking Northeast, 28-0, in a game shortened due to lightning in Week 1.
North Cedar began with a 10-game losing streak. The start has generated a buzz around the team. The players are excited, but humble knowing tough tests remain, including Alburnett (2-0) next week.
“The community supports it very well,” Feller said. “The kids are ecstatic. We have a great group of senior leaders. They deserve it.”
They earned it as well. Feller said the team, led by a devoted senior class, dedicated a lot of time in the offseason. The majority of the team lifted three days a week, attended a team camp at Central College and participated in 7-on-7 camps, including one at Iowa State.
“They did a lot of good things,” Feller said. “The boys really put the time in. Now, we’re reaping our rewards. They saw what their hard work has got them. It has been a pleasant experience for the last two weeks, but you have to have a short memory.”
Against the Lynx, Jayden Johnson threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns. He has 398 total passing yards and four TDs. Jacob Hay has been his top target, tallying 46 yards on 13 catches. Seth Hamilton has 100 receiving yards as well.
The center of the Knights attack is running back/linebacker Derrick Gray. He has rushed for 245 yards and five touchdowns, including 120 yards and three scores Friday night. Gray also caught two touchdown catches against the Lynx.
The potent offense has been complemented by a solid defense, led by linebackers Andrew Fields and Hunter Smith, nose tackle Anthony Scheer and defensive back Blake Proesch.
Feller said he was unsure what to expect from this year’s team. He has coached at bigger schools like Mississippi Valley Conference programs Iowa City High and Cedar Rapids Washington. The Knights are the most receptive to coaching, which is showing in their early results this season.
“That’s a credit to the kids,” Feller said. “It’s a testament to their hard work, mental focus and their ability to be coached.
“This group of seniors is phenomenal. … They work hard. They know what it takes.”
The Independence Mustangs ran wild Friday night, claiming a 35-20 home win over Waterloo Columbus. The Mustangs set the program’s new single-game rushing record, amassing 407 yards.
Independence Coach Brandon Krusey said the team struggled in the first half, but hit their stride after the break.
“We’re real happy,” Krusey said. “We came out in the second half and turned it around. We just ran down hill. The line blocked well and the backs ran hard.”
The performance might have been a slight surprise, considering running back Chase Straw broke his collarbone in the season opener. Jake Juhl led the way in the record-setting performance, rushing for more than 200 yards. Krusey said fullback Zach Kremer, who ran for 70 yards and a touchdown in the first game, plays a key role in the run game.
Nicholas Holt led Independence with 87 rushing yards in a one-point triple-overtime loss to Clear Creek Amana in Week 1. The Mustangs (1-1) rebounded, and already have 628 yards rushing in two games. In two games, they have gained more than half of the season totals in 2011 and 2012.
“We’ve come out and given our best effort each time out,” Krusey said. “It’s nice to control the game it and play good power football. That’s a big win for us.”
Springville has started where it left off near the end of the school’s first state playoff appearance last year. The Orioles have dominated their way to a 3-0 mark, including a 58-14 victory over Meskwaki Settlement on Friday night.
Springville, ranked seventh in eight-man, has outscored its three opponents, 176-28. Elias Nissen has power the Orioles offense, rushing for 444 yards on 30 carries with 11 touchdowns. He had 125 receiving yards and three scores in the first two games.
Sam Scriver has been an effective quarterback, completing 11 of 16 passes for 247 yards and six TDs.
The most impressive win was a 56-14 victory over HLV in the opener. The telling part of it is the fact that HLV has outscored its last two foes, 150-22.
This and that
*-Speaking of win streaks, Class 3A fourth-ranked Decorah (2-0) won its 16th straight game. The Vikings beat Marion, 34-7, at home in Week 2.
*-West Delaware (1-1) scored a touchdown in the final minute to knock off Class 2A third-ranked Dyersville Beckman, 36-29. The Hawks’ Brent Lammers hit Tim Tutton for a 76-yard TD with :58 to go for the upset at Dyersville.
*-In a battle of ranked teams, Class 1A No. 7 Sigourney-Keota beat Class A No. 9 Pekin, 27-21 at Pekin. The top four teams in 1A District 6 remained undefeated after Week 2. Top-ranked Iowa City Regina, Wilton, tied for seventh in the rankings, and No. 10 West Branch are all 2-0.