Waterloo East’s Trojans are dangerous. Why?
First, all winless teams are dangerous and the Trojans face Newton High’s Cardinals (1-2) with a 0-3 record. Second, the Trojans’ offense features a dual-threat quarterback, junior Dylan Reyes.
Reyes threw for two touchdowns and ran for two TDs in last year’s meeting, sparking the Trojans to a 26-13 lead over Newton. Reyes had his team leading the Cardinals 20-6 after one quarter then was injured and did not play in the second half. Newton took command for a 56-26 win.
How Reyes goes so goes the Trojans. Containing Reyes is part of Newton’s game plan for Friday’s final non-district football game. Kickoff between the two Class 3A teams is at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium at Central Middle School in Waterloo.
“We just need to control the ball, control the clock and score,” Newton head coach Ed Ergenbright said. “He’s (Reyes) the guy for them with a capable arm and he can pull it down and take off. We’ve had trouble with quarterbacks — like the athletic PCM quarterback — who pull the ball down and run in a spread offense.”
Ergenbright knows the best defense against Waterloo East’s Reyes is a consistent Newton offense, which runs the ball and finishes drives with scores. It all starts with the Cardinal running game.
A week ago, the Cardinals ran for more than 400 yards and scored six touchdowns on the ground in their 35-14 win at Ottumwa. Dylan Farver and William Cheng, both junior running backs, each had more than 100 yards rushing plus senior running back Josh Miller going for 60-plus yards and junior Logan Cummins with 71 yards.
Newton had scoring drives of 10 plays, seven plays and eight plays to take control of the game at Ottumwa.
“Against Ottumwa, our offensive line nice job of blocking. As I said last week, for our offensive to work our running backs have to block as well. We did a better job last week,” Ergenbright said. “Our focus this week has been executing our basic offense better. We were able to establish our rocket sweep plays a bit last week.”
Ergenbright said the Trojans have been giving up rushing yardage in their first three games — 162, 209 and 336 for a total of 707 yards. With that in mind, the Cardinals want to do what they do best — run the ball.
“We match up pretty well up front against East. We need to take the ball and establish control along the line of scrimmage and run, which means run the offense consistently without setbacks like penalties and not executing at the point of attack,” Ergenbright said.
Newton junior quarterback Kyle Long has been doing a good job of directing the Cardinal offense as the team settles into the season with new role players. Newton didn’t throw the ball much against Ottumwa but Long is 24-of 48 for 280 yards with one touchdown.
“We need to handle the long ride to Waterloo. Last year, we didn’t handle it correctly and didn’t play well in the first half,” Ergenbright said. “We have get off the bus and get our heads right and come out ready to play from the start.”
As for Waterloo East on offense, Reyes threw for one TD and scored the other four Trojan touchdowns running in their 45-36 loss to Webster City last Friday. Reyes, who is 6-foot-2 inches and 200 pounds, is 38-of-69 passing for the season for 568 yards with two TDs and six interceptions. He has 104 yards on 29 carries.
Leading the Trojan rushing is 6-2, 205-pound senior running back Kendall Robinson. He has 187 years on 37 carries this season. Up front East has senior Brody Card (6-3, 300) and junior Sage Cunningham (5-8, 200) anchoring the offensive line.
On the defensive side, the Trojans are led in tackles by junior defensive back Ahkil Muhammad and junior linebacker Jacob Hanley. Muhammad has 38 solo tackles and 19 assists and Hanley has 31 solo stops and 16 assists. Reyes handles the punting duties for East.
“I believe we are moving in the right direction on defense with some personnel moves and changes. One of those was moving Mason Lee from defensive tackle in the middle to defensive end. Mason has a great motor and is one of the fastest and strongest players on the team. He did a great job last week — five tackles for loss.” Ergenbright said.
Lee and company recorded 12 tackles for loss against Ottumwa and bottled up Ottumwa’s dual threat quarterback Eli McDanel for the final three quarters. Newton held Ottumwa to 80 yards on the ground.
Destin Schroder is available to play this week to give the Cardinals depth at inside linebacker. Ergenbright said the team will get a couple more players, who were ineligible for academic reasons, back next week.
The freshman game starts at 4:45 p.m. Friday.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535