COUNCIL BLUFFS — He's the guy the defensive linemen will be chasing and the secondary will be reading.

Rest assured that Dodge City (Kansas) quarterback Deondre Ford has been prominent on the minds of the Iowa Western defense this week.

Ford will lead unrated Dodge City (2-1) into Saturday's 2:30 p.m. football game against No. 1 Iowa Western (3-0) at Titan Stadium on the Lewis Central campus. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from Waco, Texas, ranks second among all junior-college players with 365 passing yards per game.

"He's one of the top juco quarterbacks in the country," Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. "He can run, but he's going to sit in there and he wants to throw."

Coming off a 6-4 season, Dodge City entered the year ranked 17th but lost its opener to Ellsworth 39-34. The Conquistadors, led by second-year coach Gary Thomas, have rebounded with Jayhawk Conference wins over Garden City (41-21) and Independence (42-32).

Iowa Western will be without three injured starters: running back Tyus Mason, defensive tackle Mike Edwards and offensive tackle James Works. Mason's dislocated elbow could keep him out for multiple games, while Strohmeier hopes the stay on the sidelines for the other two is short.

After missing last week's 41-0 win over Highland, running back Lor'renzo Pratt is expected to return and bolster the team's depth in Mason's absence.

Defensive tackles Mike Smith (Cedar Rapids Jefferson) and Dallas Muschall (Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln) could see more snaps in the absence of Edwards, who shares the team lead in solo tackles.

With Works out at right tackle, Tyler Brooks (Muscatine) is expected to start with Trey Bowman (Council Bluffs St. Albert) also in the mix.

Regardless of who's on the field, Strohmeier wants his team to be sharper than it was last week. He said this week's practice sessions have been a step in the right direction.

"I just want us to be a little bit more sound in our execution," he said. "Our techniques that we're teaching, sometimes during the season you get away from that a little bit. After watching the last game, we've got to get back to some of those fundamental things."

It's homecoming week at Iowa Western, which has meant an abundance of activities. Strohmeier said it's been about finding a happy medium, with the primary goal getting a win.

"Some things we asked them not to attend later in the evenings, because at the end of the day we've got a game at 2:30 (Saturday)," he said. "But I also want them to enjoy it. It is homecoming, and it's about the alumni, family and friends."

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