Tritons move into Top-20 nationally
Five consecutive victories — including a pair of blowout wins — have resulted in the Iowa Central football team climbing back inside the NJCAA Top-20.
The Tritons, who scored a 54-16 victory over then-No. 8 Hutchinson this past Saturday to conclude the regular season, are now rated 16th overall.
Iowa Central (7-4 overall) will play next on Sunday, Dec. 2 in the Graphic Edge Bowl at Cedar Falls against an opponent yet to be announced. The Tritons last played in the postseason in 2014 when they defeated Rochester.
“We’re just glad to improve each and every day moving forward,” said sophomore linebacker Spencer Cuvelier. “At the end of the day, rankings are just rankings.”
First-year head coach Jesse Montalto has now reached five consecutive bowl games, as he led Ellsworth to four in a row prior to replacing Kevin Twait.
“From starting the season 2-4 to turning the tables and finishing the regular season 7-4 with a chance to get to eight wins? That is huge for our team and program,” Cuvelier said. “It just goes to show how the coaching staff stayed confident throughout the weeks and fixed what needed to be fixed.
“I could not be more excited to head into the bowl game with the guys we have and strive for that sixth straight victory. The revival is real.”
The Tritons have faced off against five ranked teams this year, scoring victories over both Hutchinson (13th) and Butler (15th).
Iowa Central has outscored its last five opponents 203-51, scoring over 40 points three times and pitching a shutout.
Blake Dever completed 17 of 26 for 233 yards and five touchdowns in the win over the Blue Dragons, hitting Emmanuel Logan-Greene six times for 124 yards and two scores. Rashad Witty finished with eight receptions for 55 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with Carlton Todd grabbing three balls for 44 and a score.
“We are just very fortunate,” said Logan-Greene, a transfer from Central Florida. “(The ranking) is well deserved to revive this school back to winning football.”
Draven Peeples had 59 yards rushing and Jatoviay Hill added 55 and a score, with TJ Tumbleson gaining 40 more yards on the ground.
Justin Nutof, who returned a fumble 99 yards for a score, led the defense with eight tackles. Jackson Martens also had a defensive touchdown and seven tackles.
The national title game was also set, as top-ranked East Mississippi meets No. 2 Garden City in Pittsburg, Kan. on Thursday, Nov. 29. That game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
Earlier this year, the Tritons dropped a 44-14 decision to the Broncbusters, who won the 2016 national title. Their head coach, Jeff Sims, has accepted the same job at Missouri Southern.
East Mississippi, led by Buddy Stephens, was featured on the first two seasons of “Last Chance U.” They are the four-time defending national champs.