Rams kick off football season Friday on road

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

The Glenwood football team opens its 2009 season on Friday with a 7:30 p.m. game against Council Bluffs St. Albert at Al Leber Field.

The Rams, 3-6 a year ago, return 12 letterwinners from a team that lost on a 24-yard field goal with :09 left on the clock to the Falcons last season. St. Albert finished last season in the state playoff quarterfinals with a 28-21 loss to West Lyon in a 9-2 season.

The Falcons return 15 letter winners off last year's team but will have a new coach in 2009. Two-time state championship winning coach Jim Duggan accepted the offensive coordinator position at Duncanville (Texas) High School last spring and was replaced by Kevin Culjat, a 1982 graduate of St. Albert. Culjat had served as the Falcons' defensive coordinator since 2001.

Among the returnees for St. Albert is quarterback Jake Waters. Waters, a 6-foot-2, 190 pound senior, threw for 1,974 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Also returning is one of Waters’ top targets in senior Andrew Brown, who caught seven touchdowns among his 37 receptions for 758 yards. Both Waters and Brown were named to the pre-season all-state team by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

Last year's game was balanced offensively with Glenwood racking up 347 yards and the Falcons 361 but the Rams held a 207 to 127 edge in rushing yards thanks to Dylan Blankenship's 145 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns.

With a new coach and a some new pieces on offense and defense, Glenwood Coach Brian Albert has a limited scouting report of the 1A Falcons in the opener.

“I know they graduated a few good seniors and their coach left,” said Albert. “Sometimes that's good just so you have to prepare for a little of everything. You just don't know how much change they'll see from what they were doing last year,” he said.

Albert and his staff have spent the last week scouting the Falcons, looking at past year's schemes and Waters' quarterback play last season. Waters connected on 12-of-16 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown in the Glenwood game last season.

“You just have to prepare for anything and everything. Make sure we have everything covered so when we come to different teams offensive and defensively we can try different things and figure out what their favorite things are. Every team runs pretty much the same thing every year but the sequence can be different.”

The Rams will be breaking in a new signal caller on Friday with senior Nick Uphoff making his varsity start under center. When Uphoff drops back against the Falcons it will be his first passing attempt as a varsity quarterback. The 160-pounder carried eight times for 41 yards last season mostly as a running back. Against St. Albert last year Uphoff carried twice for eight yards.

Uphoff and the young Ram offense will face a traditionally stout Falcon defense pitched three shutout last season and outscored opponents 12.8 points per game last season.

East Mills travels to Woodbine on Friday for its opener. Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.

The Wolverines, 8-2 a year ago, edged the Tigers 20-17 in last season's opener when Jake Bolton scored on a one-yard plunge with 28 seconds left in the game.

Bolton, a pre-season all-state quarterback back for his third year under center for East Mills, had a hand in all three touchdowns in the Woodbine win last season, passing for two scores on 23-for-47 passing for 221 yards and rushing for 26 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

Woodbine head coach Jason Strong returns nine letter winners from last season?s 6-4 team.

Fremont-Mills hosts Shenandoah at its newly refurbished football field Friday at 7:30.

The Knights, 3-6 last season in its first year of 11-man football in Class A after five in eight-man, knocked off the 2A Mustangs 24-19 in last season?s opener. Fremont-Mills out gained the Mustangs 208 to 163 in the win.

Shenandoah returns 10 letter winners off last year?s 0-9 team for first year co-head coaches Brett Roberts and Kent Schubert.