WEEK 4 PREVIEW: No. 5 Rams host Gilbert in final non-district matchup
By Brandon Hurley
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Matchup: Gilbert (2-1) vs. #5 Greene Co. at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 in Jefferson
Last Meeting: Greene County won, 46-7 in 2018
What to watch: Gilbert’s defense is strong, allowing just 18 ppg. Can the prolific Ram offense crack the code?
X Factor: Ram QB Brent Riley has hummed along as of late. He’s thrown for 6 TDs and 375 yards the last two games
Greene County’s highly-efficient offense is set to face its toughest test yet as week four approaches.
Class 3A Gilbert (2-1) comes to town for fifth-ranked Greene County’s final non-district matchup of the year Friday, Sept. 20 in Jefferson. The Tigers are fresh off a tight, 15-8 victory over Boone in week three, boasting the best defense of any non-district foe so far. The Tigers are allowing just 17,6 points per game having forced six turnovers, including four fumble recoveries. Gilbert held Boone to just 164 yards and a single touchdown last week, which resulted in a 15-8 win.
After dropping their season-opener to Webster, Gilbert has won two straight. Though Greene County prevailed, 46-7 in last year’s showdown, Ram head coach Caden Duncan is expecting a much tighter outcome for the 2019 version. The Tigers are the most well-balanced squad Greene County has faced this year.
“They’re big, and they’re just really solid all over,” Duncan said. “You watch the film and you really don’t see any big weaknesses. They have some playmakers. They’ve got three or four different running backs that are all around 190 pounds.
The linemen are big, and they just keep driving you. It’s going to be a challenge for us up front.”
The Tigers have run for 649 yards and eight touchdowns while having thrown for 376 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Gilbert is in the midst of a two-game winning streak thanks to a week two win over Roland-Story (35-12) and their victory a week ago. The Tigers tallied 293 rushing yards and four TDs in their week two victory.
Ethan Vesey has produced 237 yards and three touchdowns on the ground thanks to back-to-back 100 yard games, including a 106 yards and a touchdown a week ago.
While Gilbert’s points per game production isn’t necessarily eye popping (they average 23 points per game), the Tigers do pose a threat to score in bunches. They will deploy five athletes who have already carried the ball at least 10 times. Deception could be Gilbert’s most lethal weapon.
“Our run defense has been pretty solid, and I’m hoping it’s going to stay that way,” Duncan said. “We’re going to be aggressive with them. But they’re definitely a big time 3A program that’s coming to town.”
Cooper Hurn leads Gilbert with 30 total tackles (third most in Class 3A) and five tackles for loss. The Rams hope to lean on their balanced offense to exploit the Gilbert defense. Greene County is averaging 390 yards per game (3rd in 2A) and 48 points per game, which is fifth in the state. Duncan is confident quarterback Brent Riley (506 yards, 8 TDs), Colby Kafer (611 rushing yards, 7 TDs) and Carter Morton (500 total all purpose yards, 7 TDs) will be able to find weaknesses in their opponent’s defense.
“We’re trying to find where our best matchups are right now,” Duncan said. “We’re pretty confident in our receivers and also Brent and then obviously, Colby has had a great year so far, so they’re going to have to respect us there.
Duncan continued, “If (Gilbert is) playing off of us too far we expect our offensive line and Colby to be able to take over. And once they come up and help to defend, we have a ton of confidence in our receivers and Brent to make plays. That’s what makes us really dangerous offensively because we are pretty balanced.”
Duncan believes earning Greene County’s fourth straight W and finishing off a perfect non-district slate relies on the Rams’ maturity and experience.
“I think it’s doing our job. Not worrying about the guy next to us and what their job is,” Duncan said. “I think if we execute, and we’re disciplined, (no) turnovers or penalties, I think that’s going to be huge.”
Friday’s kick between Gilbert and Greene County is set for 7 p.m. at Linduska Field in Jefferson.
Class 2A AP Top 10
1. Waukon 3-0
2. Clear Lake 3-0
3. Algona 3-0
4. Spirit Lake 3-0
5. Greene County 3-0
6. Waterloo Columbus 3-0
7. Des Moines Christian 3-0
8. Benton Community 3-0
9. Cresco Crestwood 2-1
(Tie) OA-BCIG 3-0
Class 2A, District 9 Standings
Greene County 3-0
Red Oak 0-3