47 schools are vying to be the top team. Only one will finish on top. Will it be Dowling Catholic? They are searching for their first state title since 2001. Will it be Valley? They’ve won 4 titles (08, 05, 03, 02) since Dowling went back-to-back.
The Maroons start the season ranked first in the Des Moines Register and Iowa Sports Connection Polls. Coach Tom Wilson says he’s only talked about rankings twice about rankings to his players. This was one of those times. He says every year there’s a target on their back, this year, that target is the size of an aircraft carrier. Coach Wilson says this team is not as strong as last year’s that finished 12-1.
This is the first game for both teams, the earliest they’ve ever had a game.
Week 0 has 24 games as a result of scheduling imbalances caused by uneven numbers in Class 4A-West; some 4A teams picking up a non-conference game with a 3A opponent.
Dowling ended the season on November 13th, 2009 in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls with a semi-final loss to Marshalltown. A late pass from Chanse Creekmur gave the Maroons their only loss on 12 wins.
Valley finished on a down note in the first-round of the playoffs with a 48-0 loss to Urbandale to end the season at 6-5.
The last time these two teams met it was at Drake Stadium where the continuous clock was being used for a bit with a 44-14 win by Dowling Catholic as 11,000 jammed in to see that game.
A lot has changed for these two teams.
Gone are 32 seniors from Dowling including playmakers on defense.
Valley returns 10 starters, but must replace QB Taylor Nelson, who threw for 1,472 yards.
Gary Swenson enters his 35th season with a career record of 273-85. Swenson says junior QB Jeff Pullen established himself early as the team’s quarterback in a competition with senior Connor Blythe. The Tigers hope to mix the pass and run, but the running game is impressive. Martin Looney and Trey Lewis are good backs who along with Brandon Ellingson are all back for another year of varsity football. Ellingson, who coach Wilson calls impressive, and Lewis are juniors. So they may just be getting started.
The Valley is big again with tackle’s Bryan Campos (6-6, 244) and Trevor Hanson (6-6, 278). They don’t get any smaller in between, so look out.
The Defense is well coached by assistant Randy Ripperger. Wilson gave high praise to Coach Ripperger in the pre-game interview which you can hear at 7p during tonight’s broadcast.
Tom Wilson is in 18th season as a head coach with a 137-51 overall record.
We’ll get more in-depth with coach during the broadcast, but he’s anticipating a good game with a great team. His offense is filled with weapons. Let’s not forget this senior class doesn’t know much about losing. They’ve only lost once as a team in 3 years. That includes freshman, sophomore and now varsity.
Connor Bravard is the new QB. Dalton Parrott will get the chance to be the featured running back. The real weapons are at receiver. Eric Lee, 3-year starter Ben Boesen and a name you will know well by the end of the season, Amara Darboh. Look for the Maroons to think pass first, then run this season as they may be spreading things out a bit more.
The defense is the bigger question with only 3 returning defensive starters back. But Josip Juric was a starter on offense last year, so was Ty Flood at running back. Both move over to help shore up the defensive unit.
This is 59th meeting of these two schools since 1968, but for the first time in August.
Many times this game opened up the season, but not this early. Neither school is in session yet.
Also the done by the Iowa High School Athletic Association this off-season comes in the playoffs when it comes to the sub-state designation. The sub-state term is gone and now all teams qualifying – 32 in each Class – are play-off qualifiers. The sub-state was proposed for the 2008 and 2009 season by the Football Coaches Association and the Playoff Committee.
Next week: Dowling @ Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson.
Valley home with Ottumwa.
We’ll be on the air at 6p from Council Bluffs. Also check our twitter feed @KWKYSports. Dave Marcoulier, Bryan Morris and Romelle Slaughter for tonight’s game. We’ll do our best to fill-in for Mark Amadeo the next two years.
The games will be live streamed on our website at http://www.KWKY.com. Just look for the live streaming game.