COUNCIL BLUFFS — It’s all or nothing for top-ranked Iowa Western Saturday.
A win over Ellsworth (6-3) at Titan Stadium would give the Reivers (10-0) their first Midwest Football Conference championship and put them in a position to play for the NJCAA title.
A loss would end their national championship hopes and likely send them to a second-tier bowl game.
Talk about motivation.
“A win in this game and you’ve done everything in your power to put yourself in the marquee game,” Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “I would anticipate we’ll be ready to go.”
The Reivers blasted Ellsworth 65-14 here two weeks ago, getting big games from quarterback Jake Waters, running back Aaron Wimberly and receivers Deon Long and Andrew Stone.
Strohmeier said IWCC will need to be ready for whatever adjustments the Panthers make.
“You put over 600 yards of offense and 65 points, I’m sure they are going to change a lot,” he said. “Obviously, they are going to make some adjustments.”
Two years ago, when Iowa Western was 9-0 and ranked No. 2 nationally, Ellsworth upset the Reivers in the MFC playoffs after losing to them during the regular season. The loss, in IWCC’s second season of football, knocked Strohmeier’s team out of the national title chase.
The coach hasn’t forgotten that. And he said the Panthers have nothing to lose.
“There wasn’t a lot of expectation for Ellsworth this year,” he said. “They were picked to finish last in our league. They’ve won a playoff game, and now they’re going to a bowl game.”
Iowa Western, he added, has much more at stake.
NJCAA bowl bids can be extended this week. A Reiver win would likely pit IWCC against No. 2 Butler, Kan., in a battle for the NJCAA championship, provided Butler beats No. 12 Hutchinson Sunday.
If Iowa Western remains No. 1, that game would likely be in the Graphic Edge Bowl on Dec. 2 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
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