Gone is Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson alum Steve Cozad, enter first-time head coach Mark Puev.
So far, the new coach appears to be in the middle of a work in progress as the team is 0-1 following last year’s 1-8 campaign. They will have a serious test of their progress from top-rated West Des Moines Dowling Catholic comes to town Friday night, August 27, 2010. Kickoff is at 730p with no sophomore game earlier.
This is the first time these two teams have met since Dowling posted a 44-14 win in 2007 and a 45-7 win in 2006. Dowling beat Valley last week 34-7.
The Yellow Jackets dropped their season opener to cross-town rival CB Abraham Lincoln 55-7. The only offense came before halftime for the Yellow Jackets when Dominic Wilson went 78-yards on a pass reception. The score was already 41-0 at that point in the first half. Otherwise, TJ had 96 yards in the first half of total offense and 2 first downs. Wilson finished the game with 3 catches and 114 yards. All of Wallace’s completions were to Wilson.
Puev is a first-time head football coach after 14 years as an assistant at Omaha’s Benson High School. He’s a former head softball coach at Benson, but spent 14 years as a football assistant following his discuss career at the University of Nebraska. He was there from 1987 to 1992 when it was the Big 8.
A couple of assistants stuck around and helped ease the transition at TJ, which Puev is thankful for.
A new coach means a new system and Puev is having lots of conversations with his players as they learn this new scheme. Only 8 starters return from the Missouri River Conference team. The Yellow Jackets qualified for playoffs in 2008 losing a sub-state game against Ottumwa.
Coach Puev is full of energy and is excited about his team. He knows they are young, especially up front on the offensive line where 1 senior, 2 juniors and 2 sophomores are starting.
He’s already got numbers headed in his direction from 53 last season to 85 this year 9-12. They field 3 teams.
Last year the team had to deal with some injuries that put some of this year’s team in the mix, including starting Quarterback Matt Wallace.
The offense is spread in name, but Puev is quick to point out that anyone can get the ball at any time and 4 plays look the same to keep the defense honest.
Puev is impressed with the leadership and willingness Wallace has in learning the new system. The junior made some strides in a passing league this summer that showed he’s allowed to be coached.
Coltan Harlan is like a boxer, last one down, first one up and has a willingness to be there and try to help others according to his coach.
Puev also adds that Tyler Gustovson spent most of the summer in the Phoenix area with grandparents and still participated in workouts. When he showed up for camp, he was the first one across the line each time.
Tyler Kuhl is the silent leader up front and is a captain. Ramsy Edenburg (6′, 240) is a freshman and coaches are quick to praise him as the real deal. He showed promise in a scrimmage against Puev’s old team, Benson. He plays next to Michael Walter who are a good combination.
Josh Skou is the brother to fellow starter, Caleb, and a captain. Harlan is another captain, having swagger, has bought into the system. Ricky Miller can play anywhere and Tony Pete is a transfer who came in not looking like a football player, but has quickly earned respect from coaches.
Dave Marcoulier is back as the color analyst, so is Brian Morris on the sidelines and Romelle Slaughter with the scoring updates. My name is Paul Yeager, we’ll see Friday night at 6 with a 730 kickoff from Council Bluffs Stadium.
(Romelle Slaughter contributed to this report.)