CEDAR RAPIDS — Remember that preseason Iowa Conference football poll? The one that predicted the Coe Kohawks fifth?
“Obviously, the conference didn’t think we were going to be that good,” running back Brendan Leiran said after Coe’s 35-7 Saturday smackdown of Wartburg at Clark Field.
But they are good. Really good.
Potentially top-ten ranked in NCAA Division III this coming week after improving to 8-0 overall. In complete control of the IIAC with two weeks left in the regular season.
A win next Saturday at winless Luther would wrap up Coe’s first-ever outright Iowa Conference championship. Two more wins should assure the school a home game in the first round of the D-III playoffs.
“I said before the game, ‘All right, 60 minutes to remember for a lifetime, guys. This would be a huge win for you. This will put you right smack dab where you want to be, in the driver’s seat. Just take care of business,’” said Coe Coach Steve Staker. “Unbelievable. We got picked to finish fifth in the conference. Hey, that’s the way it is.”
Coe pulled away from a 14-7 game at the half on a Leiran 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and two TD passes from Jared McNutt early in the fourth. McNutt completed 22 of 33 throws for 275 yards and three touchdowns: one to Leiran and two to Jared Kuehner.
The 6-foot-5 Kuehner caught eight balls for 142 yards, including a couple of beauties in which he used his size to simply take footballs away from defenders. Leiran had a 108-yard rushing day against the IIAC’s stingiest run defense and three overall TDs.
“Every team has had trouble running the ball against Wartburg,” Leiran said. “But we said we weren’t going to give up on it. At the end of the game, we wore them out, had a couple of big holes and just gashed them.”
Coe’s defense, meanwhile, pitched a second-half shutout and forced four Wartburg turnovers. All-American defensive end Frank Weymiller had 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four tackles for loss. Throw in Ben Schmidt’s blocked punt in the third quarter, and you had all facets of the game contributing.
“I don’t think they really like us, and we really don’t like them most years,” Weymiller said. “(This game) is always something to look forward to.”
“These kids are amazing,” Staker said. “We don’t get real high, and we don’t get real low. We’re just kind of an even-keel team … They don’t let anything bother them. They come out, get the job done, and away we go. Just a tremendous bunch of kids.”
Kids on the verge of school history.
Here is the game boxscore: