TITLE DREAMS: Mustangs play host to Girard for district title

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Sports

October 27, 2016 - 12:00 AM

The Mustangs are on the verge of accomplishing what seemed so improbable just a month ago.
After a 1-4 start to the season, Iola coach Doug Kerr began talking about an undefeated October, which would be able to bring to fruition all of the goals that Mustangs had begun the season with.
An undefeated October would give the Mustangs their first playoff appearance since 2008. It would give the town its first home playoff game since the 1980s. It would give the seniors a legacy to hang their hats on from their time as Mustangs. It would give the underclassmen something to strive for and build on in future years. It would give Iola High School its first district football title since the 1980s.
Now after three straight victories some of those goals have been checked off of the list.
Iola will make its return to the playoffs next Friday. The seniors have made their impact on the program and have given an example for future teams to follow.
The Mustangs aren’t done with the checklist though.
With a win over Girard tonight, they will secure the first district title and home playoff game for Iola in their lifetimes.
“I want it bad,” Iola senior Ben Cooper said about the district title. “I want to get some hardware.”
Girard will not be an easy team to make that history against. The Trojans enter the game with a 3-5 record but have played a very difficult schedule.
Their losses have come against the No. 1 team in the state, Frontenac, the No. 5 team, Columbus, a 6-2 Galena team, a 5-3 St. Mary’s-Colgan squad and Burlington last week.
The Trojans are led by an experienced senior quarterback, who gave the Mustangs headaches a year ago. Eric Wilson (No. 5) ran for over 100 yards and threw for over 100, last season in Girard’s 28-14 victory.
“Everything starts with Wilson,” Kerr said. “Last year, he hurt us with his legs. He can scramble and do some nice things… He is probably the best quarterback we have faced all year to this point.”
This season, Wilson has been very turnover prone with just five passing touchdowns compared to eight interceptions.
The Mustangs’ answer at quarterback is their own senior decision-maker. Cooper has taken much better care of the ball this season than Wilson has. Cooper also has five touchdowns, but has thrown just three interceptions.
If the Mustangs are going to be able to force Wilson to throw, they must find a way to stop Girard senior running back Isaiah Fisher. Fisher (No. 22)has run for just 610 yards this season, but his opportunities have been limited because fellow-senior Camden McFarland has dominated the carries all season.
Fisher is averaging 10 yards per carry this season and after McFarland got hurt last week, Fisher nearly brought the team back to victory.  The 5-5, 124 pound tailback ran for 257 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries after McFarland had been limited to 65 yards and no scores on 15 carries before his injury.
“He is a little faster than (Kyle) Lamb (of Anderson County) but not as physical,” Kerr said. “Our ends have to contain.”
The Mustangs counter Fisher with one of the best running backs in the area with sophomore Tayton Driskel. Driskel ran for nearly 200 yards last week and is now over 1,000 yards for the season.
Establishing Driskel will be the key for Iola as Burlington ran for over 300 yards last week on the Trojan defense.
With a win tonight, Kerr and the Mustangs will be able to shift their focus from an undefeated October to an undefeated November.

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