Washington travels to Keokuk to face ChiefsDemons will look to pound ball, Keokuk has a potent pass attack
Ever since head coach Randy Schrader took over the Washington football program four years ago, it has been a run-first offense.
That isn’t going to change anytime soon, especially not at Keokuk, Friday, at 7:30 p.m. This year the team has a total of 872 yards on the ground for a team average of 218 yards per game.
“If we could play a football game and never throw a forward pass I would be happy,” Schrader said. “We are going to grind it.”
There are five backs with 98 yards or more, led by senior Alex Coker’s 305 yards and seven touchdowns. Quarterback Daryn Sebelius coincidentally has rushed for 190 yards, nearly matching his 242 passing yards.
“Daryn has the opportunity to run the ball every time,” Schrader said. “It is an option read game. He makes a lot of good reads.”
Schrader’s style of play gets his team prepared for the state tournament.
“Especially in Iowa, you have to be able to run the ball because in the playoffs the weather is terrible — it’s rainy,” Schrader said. “You have to be run dominant.”
It’s when his team is forced to put the ball in air that Washington is out of its comfort zone.
“If we are behind in the second half, we are in trouble,” Schrader said. “If we have to throw the ball more than 15 times a game, then we are behind. That is our rule of thumb.”
Keokuk is the exact opposite. Last year the Chiefs relied on the running game but this year it does its damage through the air.
Chiefs’ senior Drake Reiter has passed for 812 yards with a quarterback rating of 107.1.
“Keokuk has a solid passing game,” Sebelius said. “They are a 45-55 percent pass-to-run offense. They have a lot of weapons but if we do our job we can handle them.”
Schrader said there are two ways to defend the passing game, through pressure and coverage. Washington will use both approaches.
“We will work on some things that busted last week,” Schrader said. “We got to get on the back end. Hopefully we can keep the kid in the pocket — we had some issues with that last week.”
Keokuk sophomore Kolton Marlin has 27 receptions for 326 yards for an average of 12.1. He has found the end zone four times.
“That sophomore kid is a pretty good receiver,” Schrader said. “The (quarterback) throws nice ball. They aren’t afraid to throw the ball. Against Fairfield they threw three long flag routes in a row.”
Keokuk defeated Fairfield 10-6 in its last game, while Keokuk’s passing game was held in check with 169 yards.
“They come off a tough loss against Centerville and a good win against Fairfield.”
Centerville topped the Chiefs 49-20, in a game where Reiter still managed to pass for nearly 300 yards.
Keokuk senior Alex Meek leads his team with 31 tackles.
“Their big kids are usually wrestlers,” Schrader said. “Which means they are tough and have good hits. They have always had good size. They are well-coached.”
Keokuk lost 16 starters and nine offensive players from last year’s team.
If Coker is given the chance to make a play on a punt return, special teams could be a factor. In the past two games he averaged 59.3 yards per return.
“We work on special teams every night, so that is not to be unexpected,” Schrader said. “I would doubt that they would kick to us. I don’t know why you would. I’d kick the ball straight out of bounds if it was me.”