Iowa Central hosts Graphic Edge Bowl

The 10th-ranked Iowa Central football team puts a cap on the spring season here Saturday, hosting No. 9 New Mexico Military in the Graphic Edge Bowl.

Kickoff is set for noon.

This marks the first meeting between the two schools, and it comes in a modified year that will see this game as one of just two postseason contests in junior college football. The other pits No. 1 Hutchinson vs. second-ranked Snow for the national title.

Coming off back-to-back wins over Ellsworth and ASA Miami, the Tritons (5-3 overall) seek their third consecutive win and third straight bowl victory at the same time. For head coach Jesse Montalto, a win would make him 7-0 in his last seven bowl games.

“We’ve done a good job over these past few weeks of competing and playing hard,” Montalto said. “But this is going to be a very good team we are going up against and the guys have to be ready.”

After a pair of tough losses to Snow and No. 4 Iowa Western, Iowa Central responded, scoring a 62-20 victory vs. Ellsworth and concluding the regular season with a 31-6 triumph vs. ASA Miami. The Tritons racked up almost 800 yards of total offense in those two games.

Quarterback Byron Jarrett has thrown for 692 yards, rushed for another 271 and has 15 combined touchdowns to lead the way. Madison Ridgeway and Desna Washington, a pair of freshman, are both over 300 yards receiving with four touchdowns each. Jayce Levy also has caught four TDs and thrown two more.

Colin Swygman, who made the game-winning field goal in the most recent Graphic Edge Bowl, is 34-for-35 on extra-point attempts this season with six field goals.

Bryant Barrier anchors the defense with 48 tackles while Garret Ollendieck has 45 and Dylan Cain 44. Tristin Waugh and Deonte Bryant each have five sacks, Ollendieck has four and the Tritons have forced 12 turnovers.

New opportunities have come into play for a handful of players as others prepare to depart for their next landing spot at the Div. I level.

“We’ve really preached that this is a great time to get more film for yourself,” Montalto said. “It feels like they are taking that advice and taking advantage of the opportunity.”

Iowa Central is 15-9 all-time in bowl games, winning each of the last nine overall.

New Mexico Military (5-3) is no stranger to travel this season as the Broncos played all seven games in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference on the road in Texas. That included dates with No. 3 Cisco, sixth-ranked Kilgore and No. 8 Trinity Valley.

They concluded the year with three consecutive wins over Tyler, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and RPA College Prep, outscoring the three, 172-21. This will be the first bowl game for New Mexico Military since a 2013 victory over Arizona Western in the El Toro Bowl.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge,” New Mexico Military head coach Joe Forchtner told NMMIAthletics.com. “This is everything that we work for. I can’t understate how grateful, thankful and honored we are to go be able to play in it.”

Freshman quarterback Diego Pavia has thrown for 726 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions on 90 attempts. He also has 420 yards rushing and seven more scores.

Anthony Grant leads the ground attack with 819 yards and 10 TDs, Quantavius Moore has 19 receptions for 390 yards and three touchdowns, and William Testa is a perfect 40-for-40 on extra-point attempts with seven field goals.

“This will be the most explosive offense that we face,” Montalto said. “And they are going to be hungry to come all this way and play.”

Leo Claussnitzer has five sacks, Jayden Oliver has three interceptions and Jimmy Harrison has a team-high 29 tackles with four for loss.


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