January 27, 2021

Another pass-heavy offense awaits PCM in 2A quarters

Last week, Prairie City-Monroe’s football team slowed down the fourth best passing offense in Class 2A when it dispatched eighth-ranked Benton Community with ease.

This week, if the Mustangs want to return to the UNI-Dome, they must slow down the top passing attack in 2A.

But the two styles of offenses between Benton and fourth-ranked OABCIG couldn’t be more different.

“Their offenses are two very different deals,” PCM coach Greg Bonnett said. “Benton wanted to play action and have RPOs. OABCIG wants to air raid and if nothing is open their quarterback is going to move around until something is open or take off and make a play with his feet.”

Kickoff between the Mustangs and Falcons is set for 7 p.m. on Friday in Ida Grove.

The Falcon quarterback is junior Cooper Dejean, who ranks first in 2A with 2,591 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 966 yards and scored 19 TDs, which ranks fifth in 2A.

Dejean has thrown 10 interceptions, seven of which have come in the last two games against the two best teams the Falcons (10-0) have faced this season.

“We are going to play our defense and adjust accordingly,” Bonnett said. “In terms of tendencies, it will be a different thing to prepare for than last week.”

The Mustangs (8-2) were fantastic on both sides of the ball last week in the 34-8 win over Benton. PCM tallied almost 500 yards of offense and the defense held Benton’s high-powered passing attack to less than 100 yards.

All three levels of the defense did their jobs in the win. The defensive line put pressure on the quarterback all night, the linebackers tackled in space and the secondary blanketed the receivers with strong coverage.

PCM’s defense will be tested again this week against a Falcons offense that has gained 4,136 total yards, which ranks second in 2A. Their 8.7 yards per play also ranks second in the class.

Dejean’s favorite receivers are senior Jake Nieman and sophomore Easton Harms.

Nieman ranks tied for sixth in 2A with 56 catches, second in receiving yards with 1,015 yards and second in receiving TDs with 13.

Harms ranks third with 61 catches and eighth in yards with 794 and has six touchdown caches.

“He is a really good quarterback for sure,” Bonnett said of Dejean. “He is a big and fast kid with a quick release. He basically has everything everybody wants in a QB. The kid can run and throw so we have to do a good job of disrupting things up front and getting some heat on him.”

OABCIG is undefeated but played a regular-season schedule that included an opponents’ record of 29-52.

The Falcons were impressive in the last two weeks. They defeated Greene County 35-14 in Week 9 to clinch the district title and then eliminated West Marshall 26-7 in the playoffs last week.

West Marshall defeated PCM 14-7 in Week 2. Greene County also is in the quarterfinals after knocking out Des Moines Christian last week.

OABCIG’s 10-0 record includes wins over three teams with winning records. But Dejean had 132 rushing yards against West Marshall (6-4), 156 rushing yards against Greene County (9-1) and 132 rushing yards against Storm Lake (5-4).

The Falcons’ defense comes into Friday night with 15 interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries and 10 sacks. They have six defensive TDs, including five interceptions that were returned for scores.

“We certainly have to take care of the ball. That never changes,” Bonnett said. “We also have to make plays and recover if we do turn it over.”

Nieman leads the Falcon defense with 63 tackles. He’s tied for third in 2A with five picks, tied for second with two pick 6s and has two fumble recoveries. Nieman also has returned a punt for a TD.

Dejean’s not only a quality QB. He also has four interceptions and two pick 6s on defense, returned two punts for TDs and averages 38.6 yards per punt.

The Mustangs have a chance to get back to the place they won the state championship at last season with one more win. But Bonnett wants them to focus on the task at hand.

“It’s always a special thing for a team to make the Dome,” Bonnett said. “I think the new guys this year have had that thought in their heads since we left the state title game last year. We know that we have to improve consistently right now and every rep counts more than any rep ever has before because that is the game of football.

“Take a rep play after play after play and good things happen. No sense in thinking about the past or the future ... just be where your feet are.”

The drive from PCM High School to Ida Grove is around 185 miles. The estimated drive time is a little more than three hours.