CEDAR FALLS — There will be a bit of irony for Sigourney-Keota football fans Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in the UNI-Dome as they cheer for the Cobras to win the Class 1A semifinal against the OABCIG Falcons. Well, that irony exists for Iowa Hawkeye fans.
Cheering and rooting for your team means you are against the opponent. The Cobras’ opponent has Cooper Dejean playing quarterback for the Falcons and he has already signed to play with the Iowa Hawkeyes. So while rooting against him Saturday, that will change in less than a year when he becomes a Hawkeye. The Cobras must find a way to stop him and/or slow him down before Big Ten defenses have to do that when playing the against the University of Iowa.
The artificial turf at the UNI-Dome will be a different surface for both teams.
“A lot of us are pretty pumped about playing in the dome, especially the seniors,” SK’s Sam Sieren said. “Playing on the turf is going to help us make us faster and better.”
OABCIG has been atop the AP rankings all year. The Cobras started ranked in the Top 10 and slowly moved up to finish at No. 3.
“We thought the rankings were cool, but we knew we had to prove ourselves to people every night because they are always doubting us,” SK’s Cade Molyneux said.
OABCIG is a defending champion, but not Class 1A, It won 2A last season, beating Waukon in the title game 37-12.
“We are very excited to be in this position again this season, especially given the circumstances (of COVID-19),” OABCIG head coach Larry Allen said. “We realize that all teams that are still playing at this point are quality teams, so we will have to be ready from the opening kickoff.”
In last year’s championship, Dejean was 21-of-37 for 252 yards and two touchdowns while running 20 times for 168 yards and two scores.
“He’s probably the best player in the state,” SK’s Brady Duwa said. “ (OABCIG) is about as far away from us as you can get so we don’t know much about them.”
The letters are the towns that make up the school district. Odebolt, Arthur, Battle Creek and Ida Grove is a consolidated district that has territory in Crawford, Ida, Sac and Woodbury counties. It is about 100 miles northeast of Omaha, Neb. and 50 miles mostly east and a little south of Sioux City and 230 miles from Sigourney.
The Falcons and the Cobras share a 10-0 record and purple as a color, with the Falcons adding silver and black.
The teams do not share an offensive philosophy. The Cobras have the single wing with a spin back that likes to gain three and a half yards every play, thus always picking up a first down. The Falcons are a spread, up-tempo team, that is looking to take advantage of its team speed.
The Cobras will need to get turnovers and limit the time the Falcons have the ball.
“When they do have it, we have to get some stops,” SK head coach Jared Jensen said. “Batted balls won’t work. We have to get that interception.”
The Falcons have thrown 310 passes with 183 completions for 2,929 yards. The Cobras have thrown 57 passes, completed 36 for 726 yards. Despite throwing almost six times as many passes, the Falcons have barely twice as many aerial touchdowns 29-13 on the Cobras and four times the interceptions 8-2.
“We will be ready for it because we’ve been prepared for anything that’s thrown at us this year,” Colten Clarahan said. “They haven’t seen an offense like ours, so I think we have the advantage.”
The Cobras have nearly twice the rushes, 402-234, and yards, 3,107-1,730, but not much of an edge in rush TDs at 43-36.
Dejean is more than a passer. At 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, he is a load to tackle and has 1,089 yards rushing (eighth in 1A) and 21 TDs (fourth).
Knowing when it’s a run instead of the pass will be important for the Cobras defense.
“Film study helps us know what they’re going to do or what they might try to do against us,” Zach Smithart said. “It also helps us to make sure we know where we’re going every time.”
SK’s Sieren, 5-7 and 193, is first in 1A in rushing TDs (24), fourth in yards rushing (1475), and fifth in carries (175).
The biggest concern Allen has about the Cobras is their offense and the deception involved in the running game.
“We have to stop their effectiveness running the ball,” Allen said. “We must win on first downs and keep them in long-distance situations.”
The closest game for both teams was a 27-21 win. SK beat Mid-Paririe (4-4) in the opener. OABCIG beat Spirit Lake (5-3) in the second game. In its other nine games, it averaged 52.5 and gave up 10.9. But with a 52 average, the first team defense is not in the game much, as SK knows with 45 and 10.5 averages.
The base defense of the Falcons is a 3-4, but they have variations and line up in about any front combination that is needed.
“I believe that we have to win first down and be disciplined on both sides of the football,” Allen said.
First downs are what SK likes and the goal of its offense. Burn clock, impose its will, and keep the ball.
“On film we’ve seen them give up plays and drives, but they get tough inside the red zone, like we have,” Jensen said. “They are an explosive team, always itching for the big play, so if we don’t give it up, maybe we can frustrate them.”
If they happens, the Cobras will play for a title the next weekend against the 9 a.m. semifinal winner, No. 2 Van Meter (10-0) or No. 7 South Central Calhoun (9-1).
“We want to be the best that’s ever played and leave a lasting impact,” SK’s Carson Sprouse said. “We want to be the ones that kids that are coming up say, ‘I want to be like those guys.’”