Change is the popular word to describe what the 2018 season entails for the Glenwood Rams. Changes in schedule, playoff format, district competition, lineups, coaching staff and even playbook surround the Rams this season.
Coming off its third straight state playoff appearance, Glenwood is gearing up for another successful season on the gridiron. With seven returning starters in the senior class and loads of new talent rising to the top of the depth chart, Head Coach Cory Faust sees promise in his varsity squad.
“We did graduate a big senior class, but hopefully when the program is where it’s at, you just kind of reload,” Faust said. “We’re still really talented, maybe even a little more deep as far as balance on both sides of the ball.”
Faust, in his seventh year as Glenwood’s head coach, has implemented an offseason lifting program that he hopes can allow his team to simply fill in and continue its winning ways despite graduating a senior class that consisted of five collegiate football players.
Glenwood boasts an offensive backfield that could prove to be one of the most dangerous in the state, featuring senior ball carriers Noah Carter and Cooper Silvius.
Carter was the Rams’ second leading rusher last year, racking up just under 1,000 yards and finding the endzone 20 times throughout the season. The 6-foot, 215-pound powerback was a force for the Rams last season and has raised the eyebrows of many area colleges, including Wayne State, Nebraska Wesleyan and even defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State.
Silvius recorded 585 yards and eight touchdowns in his junior campaign, and finished second in the district in yards per carry (minimum 75 carries). While he may not have put up the numbers Carter did a year ago, Silvius is not going unnoticed in the early stages of practice.
“Cooper has been real steady so far, he did a really nice job at our scrimmage,” said Faust.
With his edge speed and one-cut running style, Silvius believes he and Carter can bring a versatile rushing game to the table, making it tougher for defenses to handle.
“Noah and I both work on our strengths, but we have to work weaknesses also,” said Silvius. “We both practice both running up the hole and off the edge, so I think it will help a lot with two different running backs, we kind of bring a different attack to the game.”
Accompanying Silvius and Carter in the offensive backfield will be junior quarterback Zach Carr. After transferring from West Des Moines Valley in January of 2017, Carr played his first season in a Glenwood uniform at cornerback. However, due to his experience under center at his former school, Silvius thinks Carr will add yet another weapon to an already dangerous Glenwood offense.
“Zach brings another dynamic for us, running the ball in the option and stuff like that,” Silvius said.
The flexbone offense is something Ram fans are used to seeing, but Glenwood will be bringing out a new split-back scheme this season. With the hiring of former Tri-Center Head Coach John Tiarks as offensive coordinator, Faust is excited to mix things up.
“I’ve known Coach Tiarks for a long time through the clinic circuit, and he brings a lot of experience,” Faust said. “We have similar backgrounds and schemes with certain option offenses, overall he’s just a die hard football coach, and I love that.”
Tiarks was brought on board to allow Faust to focus more on his strong suit: defense. A stifling defense has been a staple of Glenwood football the past few years, and it looks to be no different this season. The Rams return a solid core of players from a defense that allowed just 12 points per game in the 2017 regular season. Those returners include senior linebackers Eli Bales and Brett Mower, as well as defensive lineman Parker Sell, all of whom spent lots of time on the varsity field.
Bales was Glenwood’s second leading tackler last year, trailing only first team all-state defensive tackle Caleb Sanders. Mower was right behind Bales in total tackles, finishing third on the list for the Rams. Faust is encouraged by what he has seen from these two senior leaders to this point.
“Brett and Eli have both really improved, Eli’s a little bit faster this year, and they’re both doing a really nice job so far,” Faust said.
Bales believes the Rams will sport a good defensive backfield in order to make up for a smaller front line compared to years past.
“We don’t have the huge bodies like we had last year, so we kind of have to fit around that,”said Bales. “I think if we fit around that we’ll be pretty good playing a more fast tempo defense.”
Faust mentioned some new faces to the defensive secondary this season, including seniors Jon Lee, Ben Berke and Ryan Leath, as well as sophomore Silas Bales.
With new districts and a different playoff format introduced this year, the Rams are in some unfamiliar territory. Glenwood’s new schedule features four teams in the Des Moines Register’s preseason top 10 (Lewis Central, Dallas Center-Grimes, Harlan, Kuemper).
Sioux City Heelan, which has a combined record of 13-5 over its last two seasons, is also on tap for the Rams in week two. According to a diagram sent out by the Iowa High School Athletic Association, Glenwood boasts the toughest schedule in Class 3A, on paper.
Faust added, “We do have great competition this year, and to me that’s an opportunity for us to get a little bit better.”
He believes his team is up for the challenge, but knows they must ignore the noise and take it one game at a time.
“We just have to treat every game like it’s the Super Bowl and let the chips fall where they may,” Faust said. “If you worry about anything beyond the week that’s ahead of you, you’re going to lose the fun of the experience.”
The Rams kickoff their season with a trip to Carroll to take on the Tigers August 24. Glenwood and Carroll have had their share of battles, meeting four times in the past three seasons. Every game has been decided by one possession.
“Carroll has very good talent, they’ll probably return just as much talent as we do. Trying to figure out exactly what they’re hanging their hat on this year will be interesting, especially in a week one game,” said Faust.
In spite of the exhilarating contests between the Rams and the Tigers in recent history, as well as the added hype of the first game of the season, Faust is keeping his team focused on the task ahead.
“It’s really just another football game, so we just have to do the best we can to prepare and lay it out there,” said Faust, “It should be fun, I think our guys are ready, it’s time to finally play somebody else.”
Glenwood vs. Carroll will kickoff Friday night at 7:30PM at Carroll Athletic Field.
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