To say Iowa Western has endured a roller-coaster season would be accurate.

The Reivers were No. 2 in the NJCAA preseason rankings and won their season opener before dropping three straight to fall out of the Top 25.

But Iowa Western is on the rise now. Since a 28-14 home loss to Garden City on Sept. 21, the Reivers (5-3) have won four straight over Dodge City, Ellsworth, Independence and Snow. They’ve outscored their opponents a combined 163-23 and returned to the rankings at No. 13. They’ve done it despite dealing with a number of key injuries.

“It’s been amazing,” Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “When you’re dealing with 18-, 19-year-old kids that came here to win a national championship, then to lose three straight, you’re sitting at 1-3, and now to be 5-3, it says a lot about their character and fight. When you question kids in these situations, it shows that they’re about Iowa Western and have bought into this program.”

Iowa Western’s next test comes at 1 p.m. Saturday at 17th-ranked Fort Scott (4-3). The Reivers will again be playing with two healthy running backs in redshirt freshman Brian Snead and freshman Chandler Cotton. Sophomore ZaQuandre White and freshmen Jayson Murray and Sheldon Cage remain out with injuries. Snead and Cotton combined for 26 carries, 107 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 54-13 win over Snow.

 Sophomore tailback John Oliver leads Fort Scott with 482 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Jon Jiles has tallied 607 yards and four scores on the season. The Greyhounds are a far better team than the one that finished 2-8 last season, Strohmeier said.

“It’s night and day from where they were last year,” he said. “It comes down to execution: Who’s going to execute the most, and who’s going to execute the best. We have a good plan going in, but they’re going to be fired up. They’re 4-3 with a lot of talent.”

Every victory the Reivers have put together over their four-game winning streak has presented a different kind of challenge. And Strohmeier is eager to learn more about his team’s character after Saturday.

“We could’ve folded numerous times (this season), and they didn’t,” Strohmeier said. “They responded. That’s what I’m looking at. How are we going to respond now when we just beat a Snow team and now we’re going against another ranked team on the road.”

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