NEWTON — Friday night, Newton’s Cardinals face its third top-15 Class 3A football team this season. The Cardinals go west to take on Dallas Center-Grimes’ Mustangs in Class 3A, District 4 play.
“It is time for us to play a complete game. I told the players, if we play a complete game, we’d be tough to handle,” said Ed Ergenbright, Cardinal head coach. “Last week against Grinnell, we played an outstanding first half, especially defensively, then we didn’t play that well in the second half.”
Consistency in play is the focus for Newton on both sides of the football. The Cardinals’ head coach pointed out to beat teams like Grinnell, Boone, and now, Dallas Center-Grimes, “we have to play four quarters of consistent football. We’ve been hot or cold. When we’re hot, we’re pretty good, but when we go cold, we’re not very good.”
The Mustangs are ranked 15th in Class 3A. Offensively, DCG is led by senior quarterback Andrew Kramer, who is a dual threat to throw the football and run it. Kramer is 64-of-112 passing for 715 yards with nine touchdown passes and five interceptions. He has rushed for 221 yards on 54 carries.
Chaz Chambers is the top rusher for the Mustangs this season with 370 yards on 72 carries. Noah Weeks has 178 yards on 44 carries. Kramer’s top target has been Dakota Clausen, who has 18 receptions — four for touchdowns — for 304 yards.
“Dallas Center-Grimes is much improved from a year ago. They are very athletic and play very well defensively. They held Grinnell to 14 points, and came back from a 14-0 deficit to win 21-14,” Ergenbright said. “We’re going to have to play well.”
Ergenbright said the Mustangs run the football well out of a spread offense. He said everything goes through Kramer.
Ergenbright said the Cardinals continue to work on the running game — using the quickness of running backs Deonne Harris, J.T. Thongvanh, Tristan Peters and Joseph Banfield along with quarterback Tyler Wood to get to the edge on teams. Newton had 890 yards on 219 carries, which is just over four yards a carry as a team.
Harris leads the rushing game with 249 yards on 40 carries. Wood is a dual threat as quarterback, rushing for 208 yards and going 49-of-84 passing for 684 yards.
“Grinnell did not do anything different defensively in the second half against us. The film bears that out. We just didn’t execute as well on offense. We score on three successive series then go four or five possessions without a first down against the same defense,” Ergenbright said. “The plays were there just like they were in the first half.
“Defensively, we have to make the plays. We missed tackles allowing them to have big plays.”
Newton is 2-3 overall. The Cardinals are 1-2 in district play. Dallas Center-Grimes is 2-0 in district play and 4-1 overall.