After disappointing 2006 season, S-K returns to playoffs
By Travis Brown
After finishing a disappointing 4-5 last season, the Sigourney-Keota football team is right back where it expects to be - in the playoffs. The 10th-ranked Savage Cobras went 7-2 in the regular season and were runners-up to Collins-Maxwell-Baxter in Class 2A District 7.
"It means a lot [to make the playoffs]," said first-year head coach Clint Howard, who replaced his father, longtime head coach Bob Howard, in the off-season. "Not just from missing it last year, but with the coaching change and everything else. Our upperclassmen have worked very hard. This is not a fluke at all. Since the Albia game [last year], it has been our goal to get back where we want to be. I'm very proud of them."
In fact, Sigourney-Keota will begin the postseason at a place very familiar to one of the state's most successful football programs - the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. The Savage Cobras won the Class 2A state championship in 2005.
"We're not happy to just be there," Howard said. "We've played there before, two years ago when we won the state title. There's a lot of adversity and distractions to playing in the Dome, but I think our kids will handle that well."
Not only are the Savage Cobras familiar with playing in the UNI-Dome, but they're also familiar with their first round opponent - No. 3 North Fayette (9-0). Sigourney-Keota defeated the Hawks 34-20 in the state semifinals in 2005 at the UNI-Dome.
North Fayette, like Sigourney-Keota, is a traditional Class 2A power. The Hawks pound the ball with the Wing-T offense, and the Savage Cobras employ the deceptive single wing. Both teams also have a four-pronged rushing attack.
Junior Kory Schwenke leads Sigourney Keota with 1,004 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Sophomore Dillon Horning has rushed for 791 yards and has a nose for the end zone, scoring 16 touchdowns. Senior Brandon Lyle has added 733 yards and eight scores, and senior Keaton Greiner has 698 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
The Hawks have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in senior tailback Eric Begalske and senior fullback Jordan Franzen. Sophomore wingback Tom Nesvik has added over 700 yards rushing, and senior quarterback Tyler Hemry has run for over 500 yards in addition to passing for over 700 yards. North Fayette coach Ron Wymer said his team would have to move the football in order to beat Sigourney-Keota.
"We've got to move the chains," he said. "We've got to be able to do the things that we've done all year, and that's rush the football. And we've got to make sure they don't rush it as well as they want to."
But Wymer said it would be tough to defend Sigourney-Keota's single wing offense, and added that the Hawks haven't faced the single wing since losing to the Savage Cobras in the 2005 state semifinal.
"We haven't seen the single wing, and we don't know how our kids are going to react to it," Wymer said. "But we can't get caught looking in the backfield all the time. We've got to read our keys. We're sort of a read defense anyway."
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