Conley, Tritons ready to build off 2018 success
For Jeremy Conley, the run Iowa Central football put together to end last season provided a much-needed return to past years of glory.
Conley, entering his second decade as an assistant coach for the Tritons, is in charge of a defense that finished ranked ninth in the nation in rushing yards allowed and 12th in points allowed per game.
Iowa Central won six consecutive to end the season, culminating with a 34-20 victory over Monroe in the Graphic Edge Bowl. During that run, the Tritons knocked off two ranked teams and found themselves in the final poll of the season.
After winning just eight games total in the four seasons prior, the turnaround to 8-4 under head coach Jesse Montalto resulted in the biggest win improvement in the country.
“It was gratifying to get back to where we were at,” Conley said. “We were very successful under coach (Kevin) Twait. Now, with coach Montalto, it has been a change in talent, a culture change.
“It’s been quite refreshing to be around.”
Iowa Central lost several key members of that defensive unit including Spencer Cuvelier, who is competing for a starting job at the University of Northern Iowa, and Savion Harris, a member of the University of Texas-San Antonio roster. They do return the likes of Lamont Bishop and DaQuan Cross, who had a combined 16 tackles for loss a season ago.
“Coach Conley makes sure we are fundamentally strong,” said Bishop, who had 41 tackles a year ago. “He makes sure we know the keys to the game and gets us in the right positions.”
One newcomer looking to make an impact is Brandt Casey, who was at Mesa in Arizona before the junior college decided to drop football.
“We get along very well,” said Casey, who recorded 76 tackles in eight games in 2017. “He’s a good dude and I like what he teaches. We get on the whiteboards together and just work really well together.”
Conley has also noted the difference in practicing against a high-tempo offense directed by Montalto leading into games against similar type teams.
“I get asked who is the hardest offense to defend,” Conley said. “The answer is our guys in practice. That’s no discredit to anybody else, but the players we have and what they can do, they put us in compromising positions.”
This marks Conley’s eighth season as the defensive coordinator. He also previously coached at Iowa City West under recently-retired University of Iowa defensive line coach Reese Morgan.
Like most around the country coaching college football, Conley too has experienced the shift from respecting the past to “instant gratification.”
“It’s just the world we live in now,” he said. “Kids want results right now. We are bringing in a higher talent level of player than in the past. Our expectations probably have never been higher.
“But we can’t waste any day. We have to be getting better every single day.”