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Iowa Central looks to extend bowl win streak

Tritons square off with Monroe on Sunday inside the UNI-Dome

Photo by Paul DeCoursey: Quarterback Byron Jarrett scrambles for Iowa Central during a game inside Dodger Stadium earlier this season.

CEDAR FALLS — Jesse Montalto has finished each of the past seven seasons with a bowl game victory.

Montalto will try to make it eight in a row this Sunday when he leads Iowa Central into the Graphic Edge Bowl vs. Monroe College.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. inside the UNI-Dome.

Prior to joining the Tritons as head coach, Montalto led Ellsworth to four straight wins in the postseason. Since taking over at Iowa Central (8-2 overall), he has helped the program win three consecutive Graphic Edge Bowls, including one over Monroe back in 2018 that started the run.

“It’s just a testament to having a great staff and great players,” Montalto said. “When we have a couple of weeks to prepare for a team, I like our chances against anybody.

“That doesn’t mean this is going to be an easy game. Monroe is coming in wanting to prove that they deserved to be in the national semifinals. They are unbeaten and this is definitely their Super Bowl.”

Despite being one of two teams undefeated in the country, Monroe (10-0) was left outside of the Top-4, finishing the regular season ranked sixth. Iowa Western, New Mexico Military Institute, Northwest Mississippi and Snow qualified for the semifinals and will play for the national title.

“This is a really good team,” Montalto said. “They don’t really compare to anyone that we have played this year. They have a good, athletic quarterback, some really good wide receivers and a strong defense that mixes things up.

“We are going to have to be at our best to win.”

The 10th-ranked Tritons have only lost to Iowa Western, who is unbeaten and ranked No. 1. Iowa Central is led by Byron Jarrett, a candidate for national player of the year after throwing for almost 2,500 yards with 40 combined touchdowns.

Daylen Boddie, Desna Washington, Cal Weidemann and Jordan Kumm provide weapons at running back and wide receiver while Noah Epley, CJ Christian, Major Williams and Tristin Waugh anchor the defense.

Shelton Applewhite Jr. makes the Monroe offense going, throwing for 1,929 yards with 22 touchdowns. Troy Booker and Kimon Sullivan have over 800 yards rushing while Halim Dixon-King has caught nine TDs and has over 600 yards receiving.

In the spring, Iowa Central topped New Mexico Military, 23-21, in a game played at Dodger Stadium in Fort Dodge. They downed Nassau in overtime in 2019 and topped Monroe the year before, 34-20.

The Tritons have won 10 consecutive bowl games dating back to 2004 and are 16-9 all-time in the Graphic Edge Bowl, which dates back to 1978.

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