Iowa Western Reivers

NEWS

Reivers look to get back on track

BY KEVIN WHITE | Omaha World-Herald / Daily Nonpareil

The time period between game one and game two spanned the customary one week.

It just seemed longer than that for the Iowa Western football team.

After squandering an eight-point, fourth-quarter lead in an overtime loss to Arizona Western last week, the sixth-rated Reivers (0-1) travel to Gowans Stadium on Saturday for a noon meeting with No. 16 Hutchinson (Kan.).

The Blue Dragons enter at 1-0 after a 34-29 win at No. 18 Coffeyville. There were no new ratings this week, since several NJCAA programs hadn’t yet begun their seasons.

Iowa Western is eager to leave the field on Saturday with a different feeling from last week.

“My thing is to get the sour taste out of our mouth,’’ Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “We felt like we let one slip away.’’

The Reivers struggled offensively in their opener, managing only 252 total yards and 11 first downs in 60 snaps. Quarterbacks Andre Nunez and AJ Bush combined to go 16 of 30 through the air for 140 yards and one interception with no touchdowns.

Strohmeier said part of the lack of production could be attributed to their lack of recent game experience. An injury ended Nunez’s season almost before it started last year, and Bush didn’t see any game action at Nebraska before he transferred.

“I felt they didn’t look comfortable in the pocket for whatever reason,’’ Strohmeier said. “If it was time, protection, I don’t really know. I think the big thing is I felt we were a little antsy. We’ve got to be a little more precise with our reads and where the ball should go.’’

The Reivers coach said both will play again this week, but he won’t script a number of plays or series for each. The hot hand will prevail.

“If Andre’s moving the ball, we’re going to continue to let him go,’’ he said. “If we need a spark, then AJ goes. If he moves the ball, he’s going to stay.’’

Picked third in the eight-team Jayhawk Conference in the preseason, Hutchinson proved to be an opportunistic group in its opener, intercepting Coffeyville four times and picking up five takeaways in all. Strohmeier said the Blue Dragons will do their best to make quick decision-makers out of the Iowa Western quarterbacks.

After breaking down last week’s film, the Reivers lamented many missed opportunities that were the difference between victory and defeat. But they weren’t alone in experiencing opening-game struggles. Jones County stunned top-rated East Mississippi 27-25 and unrated Itawamba knocked off No. 4 Mississippi Gulf Coast, 23-12. Preseason Jayhawk favorite Butler barely escaped predicted eighth-place finisher Fort Scott, 41-35.

“There’s so much football left to be played,’’ Strohmeier said. “I thought early in the week they were real focused. Hopefully that’s going to translate and they’re going to play that way on Saturday. It’s going to come down to disciplined football at the end of the day.’’