Head Coach: Kevin Twait
Career Record: Overall 43-30; 8th season at Iowa Central
2002 Record: 8-3 overall, 7-1 conference
Returning Starters: Offense: 0, Defense: 0
NJCAA Preseason Ranking: 10th
First Game: At College of DuPage, Aug. 30 (1:00pm)
Fortunately, Iowa Central has a JV squad and many of 2003's varsity starters got significant playing experience at that level in 2002.
Although the defense returns no starters they do have six letter winners coming back. The Triton front seven will be solid as always. Demetrius Harmon (6-3, 255), Nate Roos (6-0, 290) and Curtis Head (6-0, 245) will anchor the defensive line. Bart Black (6-1, 225) will be the key returning linebacker for a defensive unit that will have some big shoes to fill. The 2002 defensive unit had seven players sign letters of intent to play a DI, DI AA or DII level. Gabe Toomey who signed with University of Kansas and Robert Savitski who signed with UMass will without a doubt be missed.
Losing all of the starters from a team that won 8 games a year ago would not have most coaches excited, but having Jay Courtney (6-4, 290) and Maurice Harris (6-6, 310) ready to step into the offensive line would make any coach see a bright side to the situation. Tight end Alex Poppen (6-4, 240) will be a target for the quarterback who emerges to replace Steve Rush. Three returnees from last year, plus an incoming freshman from the state of Utah, will compete for the starting QB spot.
Despite the lack of varsity experience, Twait feels his squad is strong in many areas.
"We have more team speed at the skill positions with the kids coming in. Maybe the best I've had. And there are outstanding athletes on defense," said Twait, who also mentioned two possible contributors bouncing back from a D1 four-year school.
One incoming freshman to watch is running back Larry Turner (5-10, 190). Twait says Turner is a slasher who has the speed to go the distance and is physical enough to run between the tackles. Iowa Central had one of the nation's top rushing offenses last season behind now graduated Cory Mack, who is walking on at Iowa.
The Tritons will be tested early when they travel to Wahpeton, ND to face the preseason 23rd ranked Wildcats on September 9. A rematch of last season's Graphic Edge Bowl, won by Grand Rapids in OT, 12-6, will take place on October 4 when Grand Rapids makes the trip to Fort Dodge. Grand Rapids is the NJCAA preseason 24th ranked team in the nation. Coach Twait's squad will have five games against NJCAA preseason Top 25 teams.