Reivers’ record of football success has put ‘bull’s-eye’ on their backs

In its first 10 years, Iowa Western recorded 94 victories in 114 games, won a national championship, appeared in nine postseason bowls, finished in the top three in the final poll six times and never had a losing season. “Obviously, I think the program is in pretty good shape,” IWCC coach Scott Strohmeier said.

It didn’t take Iowa Western much time to establish national credibility in its first decade of football. In fact, the Reivers will enter their 11th season with a reputation as one of the most successful programs around.

In its first 10 years, IWCC recorded 94 victories in 114 games, won a national championship, appeared in nine postseason bowls, finished in the top three in the final poll six times and never had a losing season.

“Obviously, I think the program is in pretty good shape,” Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “The reputation across junior college football is pretty high. Everybody thinks we’re one of the elite programs around.”

The Reivers have won 10 or more games in six of the past seven seasons. Though their roster has changed from year to year, their commitment to excellence hasn’t. They expect to win every game.

“When you start it from scratch, would that be a goal in mind? For sure,” Strohmeier said. “Lots of programs never reach that consistency.

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“I think that’s the thing that I’m probably the most happy with.”

The Reivers, who were third in the final poll last year after a 10-1 campaign, open this season at 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Coffeyville (Kan.).

Some preseason polls had Iowa Western ranked No. 1, though the Reivers return only a handful of players who lined up for them in 2018.

“We’re being tabbed at No. 1, and I’ve got maybe four or five guys that ever have taken snaps in junior college football,” Strohmeier said.

“Now, we have some Division I transfers, and that’s what’s getting us recognized a little bit. The recognition is good. You have to welcome that. That’s part of the reputation.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know how many teams start at No. 1 and end at No. 1. The bull’s-eye gets a little bit bigger. You’ve got to continue to stress to our guys that, by no means, does that put us in the spot.”

Iowa Western’s players have garnered a lot of attention in the months leading up to the season — more Reivers had FBS offers prior to the opening kickoff than any of the first 10 years.

Strohmeier said this year’s squad, while made up mostly of newcomers, should be strong at the line of scrimmage. The defensive front, headlined by Oklahoma commit Perrion Winfrey, should be the strength of a unit that will be filled with newcomers in the back.

Marcell Barbee and JaVonte’ Richardson return at receiver. But the Reivers lost running back Milton Sargbah to an ACL injury and don’t have a quarterback on the roster who has played for them before.

Still, Strohmeier is optimistic as his team heads into what he called a brutal schedule. The Reivers face in-state rivals Iowa Central and Ellsworth, all eight Jayhawk Conference teams and independent Snow.

The Snow game, which will be played in Council Bluffs, was a late addition. The Badgers had been playing in the eight-team Western States Football League with seven teams from Arizona. But all seven of those schools dropped football after last season.

Strohmeier said he didn’t really need another game, but he was willing to add one because he understands the situation. When he started the Iowa Western program, the Reivers were going to be a member of a 10-team league. But only five of those schools still field a junior college football team.

“Snow is having a hard time finding games. We’re playing Snow to help out,” he said. “In 10 years, junior college has changed from when we started to now. The next 10, we have to save junior college football.”

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