Rams ‘bye’ a week to heal

Last season, the Southeast Polk Rams were a blocked extra point away from making a CIML game very interesting. Instead, the kick fell to the turf and the Dowling Catholic Maroons held on to win and eventually a state championship.

The Rams try to improve their 3-1 record hosting the 4-1 Maroons for homecoming. Dowling comes off a 47-7 win last week at Fort Dodge. Pregame begins at 6p on 1150 KWKY and KWKY.com. Kickoff follows the sophomores or close to 730p.

Year in and year out, the Rams are known for tough linebacker play and a good passing game. They return Tanner Donovan and Mike Pavon in the linebacking corps. Also coming back is returning QB Kyle Starcevich. The junior signal caller continues to improve and amaze. He’s now a year older, an inch taller and a few pounds of muscle heavier.

SE Polk's Kyle Starcevich tries to get away from Ankeny's Drew Carlson in the first quarter of their game in Ankeny Friday night. (Justin Hayworth/The Des Moines Register)

He burned the Maroons last season for 261 yards going 20-35 with those completions going all over the field. His arm is strong and can move if needed. Two of his three targets return this year. Cody McCoy had 7 catches for 111 yards and Zach Warren scored a key touchdown in last years 24-23 Maroon win. Gone is big TE Austin Pinegar, who walked on at Iowa State.

The new TE is Tyler Donels. At 6’2″, 210, the senior will likely be a significant part of the offense. He has the ability to jump out of the gym. The Drake Relays high jump champ cleared 7’2″ and has many athletic skills in his toolbox.

The Rams last played two weeks ago in a 12-7 loss at Ankeny. Coach Denny Muller says RB Dalton Sanford was out with injury and RB Alec Kilby was injured on his first play against the Hawks. WR Brock Daniels played, but with a 103 degree temperature. So, you could make the case the Rams were not at full speed.

A bye week allows teams to do what they’ve not been able to do in years past during the season, heal. Coach Muller says his team went back to basics, almost a camp-like approach. There were some evaluations that came after the loss, but overall a fun time away from game competition. Last year, Southeast Polk used the time to install a new defense. So, it may be a safe bet this week off wasn’t all beaches and tanning for the Rams.

Coach says their offense is based on the run, even with a potent passing game in the chamber. The main running threats are Jordan Beem (51 carries, 293 yards), Kilby (31-196) and even WR Daniels (10-96) will rush the ball on from time to time. Overall, SEP has rushed the ball 120 times for 689 yards and 10 TDs. The rushing game of Jake Sargent last season was hard to stop by the Maroons.

Friday will likely mark the 2011 debut of Dalton Sanford. The junior running back has been held out of competition this season. He is likely the fastest member of the team in terms of track speed. How will that translate to football and following an injury? That will play out in front of us on KWKY Friday night.

Back to the passing game now. Starcevich is 43-63 for 645 yards, 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. His favorite targets are McCoy (13 receptions, 244 yards), Daniels (8-181) and Donels (8-113). As a team, the Rams are 44-65 for 657 yards and 9 TDs. That’s mostly Kyle’s stat line.

Ankeny's Joel Lanning lets go of a pass before SE Polk's Chris Schaffer and Tanner Donovan can get to him in the second quarter during their game in Ankeny Friday night. (Justin Hayworth/The Des Moines Register)

Tanner Donovan is the team’s leading tackler with 33 stops, 16 of those done solo. He is 6’1″ 225 and as his coach describes, has a knack for knowing where the football is always. You can’t teach that in most guys. If anything, he plugs the middle and prevents teams from going up the gut for yards. Muller said Ankeny and DM Lincoln both struggled to run the ball up the middle and he credits Donnovan with making life miserable for fullbacks and interior lineman. I’m sure Mr. Marcoullier will brief us on the importance of interior lineman in our Ask the Announcer segment in our pregame show.

Coach says look out for Jacob Miller, a transfer who did not play last season against Dowling Catholic, Evan German at CB and Jordan Coates at safety. These three, according to Muller are playmakers. Coates leads the team in interceptions with 4.

Maroon Notes: The DCHS rushing attack is now over 1k mark with 1,197 yards on 189 carries. The first 12 yards passing will put the Maroons over 1,000 for the season.

We go on the air at 6p in Pleasant Hill on 1150 KWKY and KWKY.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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