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District football is in full swing

Published: Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 10:14 a.m. CDT

As of Friday, district football play is underway for all classifications in Iowa. The Class 4A district action opens Friday night with Newton High’s Cardinals in the mix.

Newton is in its second season in Class 4A play after spending a stint in Class 3A district play. The Cardinals head to Marshalltown to begin District 4 play Friday. Being a new kid on the block, so to speak, I’ve learned quite a bit about the heated rivalry between the Cardinals and the Bobcats during my five years in Newton.

From what I’ve been told, there is no love lost between the two former Big Eight Conference rivals. It’s interesting as the 2017 squads square off in 4A district play the past two years, I’ve done interviews with former Newton players from the 1966 and 1977 football teams. Games against Marshalltown loomed large in the success of those two Cardinal teams.

In a week, Newton will pay homage to the 1977 Class 4A state-runner up football team. The Cardinals defeated Marshalltown not once but twice in that season. One came in a home game for the Cardinals in regular season play. It was the only loss by the Bobcats in the regular season.

The two arch rivals met again in the Class 4A playoffs at Marshalltown. According to the stories I’ve been told, the Bobcats thought the 14-6 win by Newton was a fluke. The Cardinals of 1977 left no doubt in the playoff game, beating Marshalltown 42-0.

The 1977 team went on to play for the 4A state championship in the UNI Dome. Newton lost 21-14 to Davenport West in the 4A championship game. So far, about a dozen of those NHS players will be at the Sept. 29 game at H.A. Lynn Stadium for a 40-year reunion of the 1977 season.

I’ll have feature article on the 1977 team and season on Thursday. Thanks to Nancy (Craig) Owens-Munley, who was a senior cheerleader in 1977, there will be a few photos from that season to share.

Now back to 2017 — going into Friday’s game at Marshalltown, Newton senior defensive back Grayson Graham has tied the school record for most interception returns for touchdowns in a season. Graham has two in the last two NHS games, tying Mike Dahlem’s record set in 1981.

Newton has the top rushing team in Class 4A District 4 with 1,615 yards on 210 carries. The Cardinal offense features five players in the top 11 rushers in the district. Junior Josh Miller is third with 244 yards on 23 carries, senior quarterback Garrett Sturtz in fourth with 317 yards on 42 carries and senior Josh Miravalles is fifth with 285 yards on 45 carries.

Seniors Jaron Roush and Carson Cazett are eighth and 11th on the rushing list. Marshalltown’s offense has the No. 7 rusher in the district — senior quarterback Sam Irwin, who has 280 yards on 54 carries. Irwin can throw the ball effectively. His season totals for the first four games is 570 yards on 41 completes out of 76 attempts with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Both football teams will have to deal with hot and humid conditions on Friday night — the first official evening of fall. Newton head coach Ed Ergenbright said the Cardinals are in solid condition, but the team will make sure everyone is hydrated well for game conditions.

Newton High’s cross country teams are off on a new adventure this weekend. The Cardinal runners left Friday for St. Paul, Minn. They will be competing in the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul.

The Roy Griak Invitational features four high school races and six collegiate races. It draws high school teams from across the country. This meet gives the Cardinal athletes an opportunity to compete against quality runners from all over the country.

Good luck to the football and the cross country Cardinals this weekend.

Contact Jocelyn Sheetsat jsheets@newtondailynews.com

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