Mustangs roll in 41-6 homecoming win



October 2, 2015 - 12:00 AM

In 2014, Iola picked up win No. 2 after eight games. The second victory of the season for coach Doug Kerr’s team was more of a end-of-the-year consolation prize than a potential turning point.
On Friday, Kerr and his Mustangs earned win No. 2 with a 41-6 pounding of Central Heights.
The accomplishment took just five games this year.
Iola (2-3) isn’t hanging any banners just yet, but Kerr said he believes this year’s squad can now finally take some momentum into the last half of the regular season.
Simply put, Friday night’s 35-point victory can serve as the Mustangs’ turning point.
“It’s got to give you a lot of momentum,” Kerr said. “At 2-3, we’re right back where we were last week trying to get to .500. You got to get to .500 before you go over .500.”
If Iola’s defense can replicate it’s performance against Central Heights each and every week, the Mustangs won’t just be thinking .500. They’ll be thinking playoffs.
For 47:06 of the 48-minute game, Iola pitched a shutout. It wasn’t until Kerr put in his second-team defense with less than a minute left when the Vikings were finally able to get on the scoreboard with a 30-yard touchdown pass.
“On defense, it was the first time this year that we actually attacked,” Kerr said. “And they kind of smelled blood in the water. I was like, ‘We can do that every week, not just this week.’ So hopefully we build from that.”
The Mustangs’ defense forced three turnovers, two of which were fumbles and the other an interception by Ethan Sigg.
Iola’s offense took advantage of all three of Central Heights’ giveaways by scoring on its ensuing possession.
And when the Mustangs weren’t rewarded with good field position because of a turnover, they were rewarded with good field position because of poor punting by the Vikings.
On the three scoring drives that didn’t start with a Central Heights’ turnover, Iola took over already in enemy territory thanks to a few shanked punts.
Brice Aiello benefitted most from the shorter field, scoring two of his three rushing touchdowns following Central Heights’ punts that failed to go past the 50-yard line.
Aiello didn’t waste any time putting the Mustangs on the board either. On Iola’s first play from scrimmage in the contest, the senior running back scored on a 24-yard run.
However, the quick lead didn’t give Kerr much comfort. Two years ago against Central Heights, Iola squandered a 7-0 lead and lost 28-7.
“It kind of put an eerie sense in our belly,” Kerr said. “So I was like, “We need to put another one on the board tonight.”
So Aiello listened and added two more scores and finished the day with a team-high 92 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Keanen Badders, Iola’s other battering ram in the backfield, recorded 71 yards on the ground on just five attempts. The senior added two touchdowns as well.
And helping to push the Mustangs’ rushing total over 200 yards was freshman Tayton Driskel, who ran the ball just twice but gained 26 yards and scored once.
With 230 yards on the ground, Iola didn’t need much from quarterback Ben Cooper, who finished with just 31 yards through the air on 5-of-10 passing.
Defensively, Trea Williams recorded the most total tackles with eight and Evan Sigg had Iola’s lone sack on the night.
The victory not only helped the Mustangs boost their stats and climb closer to .500 on the season. Friday night also marked the first victory for Iola on homecoming since 2012.
“It feels really good,” Kerr said. “I know for the seniors and the fans, it’s a good win. We’re 2-1 at home and it’s always good to win at home.”
Iola’s fourth-year head coach added that if his team were to win its final two home games of the year against Wellsville and Anderson County, Iola could be playing some “extra football” in November.
Unfortunately for Iola, Wellsville entered Friday night already having beaten two schools that the Mustangs lost to earlier this year in Osawatomie and Santa Fe Trail.
And last year, the Eagles took down the Mustangs 42-0.
But now Iola gets Wellsville at home, and Kerr said if his team is able to show the same intensity and physicality it did Friday night — especially on defense — the Mustangs will have a chance at victory.
“We got a good team coming in next week in Wellsville so we’re going to have to rally up and figure some things out,” Kerr said. “But I’m excited about the kids.”

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