Gents host 13th ranked Iowa
BY CHRIS QUEBEDEAUX
CROWLEY – The Iowa Yellow Jackets were thought to be in a rebuilding phase this year, but that was before their impressive 41-27 victory last week over Jena.
Now, some people are beginning to rethink that assessment. Others, like Crowley High’s Tommy Tate, knew all along the Yellow Jackets would be competitive again this year.
“Iowa has a good football team and they have a good football program,” said Tate. “They’ve developed a very good football program and they’ve been real consistent throughout the last few years. They do what they do on offense very well and, defensively, they are multiple and give you a lot of pressure. They’re just a solid football team.”
Iowa, coming off a 2007 season in which they finished second in a district that included state finalist Westlake and traditional powers St. Louis and Jennings, returned just seven starters this year - five on offense and two on defense – which is why many expected a rebuilding year.
The fact that they drubbed Jena’s Giants the way they did may have surprised some, but, again, not Tate, whose Gents play host to the Yellow Jackets Friday evening at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
Kickoff is 7 o’clock.
Tate experienced last year the type program the Yellow Jackets possess when Iowa rolled to a 45-8 victory over his Gents. In that contest, the Yellow Jackets piled up 334 yards of total offense and 15 first downs.
Of the five returners on offense for Iowa this year, three of them contributed greatly in last year’s contest. Starting quarterback Logan Chapman (5-9, 160) returns for his senior season as well as running back Mike LeBlanc (5-9, 200, Sr.) and wideout David Morrow (6-4, 211, Sr.).
Chapman torched the Gents for 177 yards and four touchdowns through the air while also rushing for 69 yards and a score.
“Logan is a very good football player,” said Tate. “To run their offense, you need the skills that he has. He’s actually a combination quarterback/tailback. He adds another running back to the backfield. In their one-back offense, he’s their other tailback and he can hurt you running and throwing the football.”
LeBlanc also haunted the Gents last year, rushing 16 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns while hauling in one pass for a 17-yard touchdown.
“Mike is very quick and powerful,” said Tate. “We are going to have to get some guys around the football to tackle those two (Chapman and LeBlanc).”
Morrow also did his part in last year’s victory, hauling in three passes for 83 yards.
“They (Iowa) always do a good job of throwing the passes that they feel like they can have a pretty good high percentage completion rate,” said Tate. “They are a ball control offense running the spread offense. They’ve developed this scheme offensively, it’s something that they’ve been doing for a long time now, and they do a great job of executing it.”
Iowa’s only returning starters on defense are Clint Habetz (6-0, 200, Sr.) at end and Demari Brown (5-7, 180, Sr.) at linebacker.
The fact that only two defensive starters return should be a plus for the Gents, considering that last year’s Iowa defense limited the Gents to just 123 total yards - 107 in the second half - and eight first downs. They also recorded seven sacks and forced four turnovers in that contest.
“They did a good job with their blitz schemes last year and we had a lot of lost-yardage plays,” said Tate. “They forced a lot of turnovers and that’s one thing that we hope we can improve on in this year’s game.”
The Gents fumbled twice last week against LaGrange, losing possession just once.
Despite some breakdowns in the secondary and on special teams last week, Tate was pleased with his team’s overall performance against LaGrange.
“Anytime you play a ballgame, you’re are going to see a lot of positives and some things that you’re not doing so well,” said Tate. “You hope that you will be a better football team this week than you were last week. We need to correct some of the mistakes that we made, try to get better at some of the things that we weren’t doing so well and build on the things that we are doing well. That’s kind of how we approach things. Things that we feel like we are doing well, we try to improve on and the things that we aren’t doing well, if we can’t get it better, we eliminate it.”