Iowa Central hosts Ellsworth
Jesse Montalto is doing everything he can to keep this week as normal as possible for his Iowa Central football team.
Montalto will welcome his former school, Ellsworth, to Dodger Stadium in a key ICCAC clash Saturday.
Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
Prior to replacing Kevin Twait on the sidelines for the Tritons (3-4 overall, 0-1 in league), Montalto directed the Panthers for four seasons, posting a 3-1 record against his current program.
“For me, it’s nothing personal,” Montalto said. “We are playing against guys we care about and recruited. It’s not me vs. Ellsworth or anything like that, it’s just us trying to get a win for Iowa Central vs. a good football team.”
Iowa Central’s last win over Ellsworth came in 2014, with the Tritons coming out on top, 23-15. The Panthers have won the last three by a combined margin of 107-75, including 35-28 last year.
To end a three-year bowl drought for Iowa Central, they must earn a win over Ellsworth and finish with a record above .500.
Justin Blake made his first career start at quarterback last week in a 58-7 victory over Dodge City, throwing for 370 yards and five touchdowns. He added another 163 yards and two scores on the ground, setting several school records in the process.
“We are going to roll with Justin again,” Montalto said. “He played well enough and earned the spot. It’s his position to lose now.”
Eldridge Joyce had four catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns, Kevaughn Dingle caught two scores and both Andrew Parchment and Carlton Todd hauled in TD passes. Rashad Witty, Dingle, Emmanuel Long-Greene, Parchment and Todd all had over 45 yards.
Blake has thrown for 732 yards and eight touchdowns, with another 365 yards and four scores on the ground. Draven Peeples has 407 yards rushing and Logan-Greene leads the receivers with 528 yards on 40 catches.
“We had guys step up and make plays all over the field, which is something we’ve lacked in other games,” Montalto said. “We’ll need to do that again because Ellsworth has a very good defense.”
Spencer Cuvelier anchors the defense with 53 tackles, including 11 for loss. Michael Slater also has 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage and Daquan Cross has forced four turnovers with 4.5 sacks.
The Panthers (1-6, 0-1) are coming off a 36-30 setback to Fort Scott last week in overtime after rallying to tie it in the fourth.
Byron Jarrett and Josh Shim split time at quarterback, with both going 7-for-18 passing. Jarrett, though, threw for 147 yards and a touchdown, adding 61 yards and another score on the ground.
Jarrett, a freshman from Des Moines Hoover, has thrown for 506 yards with three touchdowns, adding another 150 yards on the ground. Marquis Mickens has a team-high 240 yards rushing and Tariq Young is the top receiver with 27 receptions for 330 yards.
The Ellsworth defense is led by Ali Shockley, who has 82 tackles including 12.5 for loss. Marchalo Judge has made five interceptions
“Jarrett is a good, strong-armed quarterback who can make plays with his legs too,” Montalto said. “Ellsworth’s defensive line has a lot of kids we recruited and they are very good and know how to get to the quarterback. They are active at linebacker and have smart safeties.”