Iota opens league play at Northwest
After last week’s thumping of Lake Arthur, the Iota High School Bulldogs are looking at their first District 5-3A game against the Northwest High School Raiders in what will be (for the fourth consecutive week) their toughest game to date. Iota currently stands at 3-0, which is their best start since 2000.
And the Bulldogs aren’t ready to take their foot off the pedal.
“These boys know they can’t get complacent,” said Iota Coach Josh Andrus on Tuesday. “This team has been practicing just as hard every day. This is our first district game and it’s against one of the better teams in the district.”
Last season the Raiders made it to the quarterfinals in the state playoffs. This year they have a record of 2-1 with their defeat coming against the Berwick Panthers.
According to Iota Coach Josh Andrus, this will be the most athletic team his squad has faced so far this season.
“They have some really athletic skill position players and on their lines as well,” said Andrus. “Lake Arthur may have had bigger linemen...I’m really not sure but these guys can move. This will probably be our biggest test to date.”
Likewise, for the Raiders and their Head Coach Chris Edwards, this is an opportunity to get a district win against a solid opponent. For years, the Raiders football program was an afterthought with basketball seemingly being higher on the school’s athletic priorities. However, in the last two seasons the Raiders have made it to the state quarterfinals, with the team recording a school record 12 wins last year.
“They now have a lot of those outstanding athletes on the basketball team playing football as well,” said Andrus. “And their team’s speed will be the best we’ve faced all year.
For the Bulldogs, they have some outstanding athletes as well highlighted by running back Kaleb Andrus and his parish-leading 678 yards. Last week, he had 300 yards against Lake Arthur on only 14 carries.
And the rest of the Bulldogs happen to be playing pretty good as well.
Quarterback Trae Rambin had his best game of the season last week completing 14-17 passes for 212 yards and the receiving corps has four very reliable players in Tyrone Charlot, Hunter Andrus, Chaynery Johnson and Brett Clay.
Charlot has been outstanding in all three phases of the game, also playing defensive back where he has an interception as well as special teams where he has a punt return for a touchdown.
“Tyrone has always been a good athlete but this year I think he’s learned the game a bit more,” said Andrus.
Defensively, linebackers Levi Manuel and Kalem Johnson are playing very well with several stops behind the line of scrimmage. Aside from Charlot, defensive backs Brett Clay (who also plays both ways), Nick Chargois and Mitchell Lege have been playing solid. Last week, Lege and Chargois combined for a tackle and stripped ball off of star Lake Arthur tail back Troy Levias after he had broken free for a 30 yard run and appeared to be heading for the end zone in keeping the Tigers out of the end zone for the night.
This week though, as has been the case all season, the Bulldogs play a tougher opponent and that seems to be just how they would like it.
“We’re playing well right now and I can’t complain at all about how hard these boys are practicing,” said Andrus. “Hopefully, we can get a win this Friday.
Andrus said that starting defensive lineman Christian Newman, who left with a knee injury against Oakdale in the Bulldogs’ second game, should miss three to four more weeks with a partial tear in his MCL.