New Year, New League

New+Year%2C+New+League

Karlie Lower

It was a year of “news” for the Iola High School Mustang football team: new team, new coaches, new style, new league, and new attitude.
The Mustangs started preseason conditioning and practice with new coaches and new team leaders. The head coach of the Mustangs was Mr. Kerr. The new coaches this year were Kerr, Daugharthy, Carson, and Robertson. The only coach returning from last year was Hager. The team was led by the large senior class. Senior quarterback Mason Coons did not want this to be a transition and rebuilding year. Instead, the goal for this year’s team was to win the Pioneer League. Coach Kerr said that the team has more energy and excitement. Kerr is looking to continue the program, not the team. He wants to build a lasting tradition. This new tradition of Iola football started with the preseason.
Coach Kerr divided the football season into three parts: the preseason, homecoming, and district games. The preseason consisted of summer conditioning, practices, and the first three games of the season. The homecoming portion included Iola’s homecoming game as well as two away games where the Mustangs played for the opponents’ homecoming. The district games are qualifying games to see which teams achieve a postseason. The two of the four teams with the best district record from each district advance to the playoffs.
The new Mustang team came together for offseason conditioning before starting football camp and two-a-day practices. The team then had practices after school to lead up to the season opener versus Cherryvale. After a 22-0 win at home, the Mustangs traveled to Osawatomie to open play in the Pioneer League. The Mustangs beat the Trojans, 40-28, in the Mustangs’ first ever Pioneer League game. The Mustangs then lost to ranked Coffeyville, 20-40. This ended what Coach Kerr called the preseason games. Coach Kerr called the 2-1 record of the preseason a “good start and strong foundation for the rest of the season.” It also gave the Mustangs some valuable momentum going into the homecoming games.
Next came, coach Kerr’s homecoming games. The Mustangs played homecoming versus Prairie View, against whom Iola won in a thriller, 27-16. The Mustangs played Central Heights for their homecoming, besting the Vikings 34-6. The Mustangs then won another homecoming match-up at Wellsville, 41-36. Wellsville was the defending Pioneer League champion. Coach

Varsity @ Iola vs. Chanute 101212 Lower (70)
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Kerr called the 3-0 accomplishment of the homecoming games “nice” and “a testament to the work ethic of the kids.” The wins added some important momentum for the all-important district games.
The district games were next, where the Mustangs played against their regional opponents. Rival Chanute came to Iola on a cold, rainy night and won the game, 0-42. The Mustangs then lost 7-34 at home to Fort Scott. The two district losses sealed the Mustangs out of postseason contention. The Mustangs finished the season at Anderson County. The Mustang ended the season on a high note with a win of 39-21. This put the Mustangs at the top of the Pioneer League with a perfect 5-0 league record. The district record of 1-2 kept the Mustangs out of the playoffs, but Coach Kerr said that their games were a measuring stick for the progress they have made in narrowing the gap this year between themselves and other teams, especially Coffeyville, Chanute, and Fort Scott. The fact that the only three teams to which the Mustangs lost made it to the playoffs, and one of them made it to the state quarterfinals, proves the Mustangs have made huge gains this year. Kerr also said that the season was validated for the Mustangs.

 

Coach  Kerr called winning the Pioneer League a “tremendous accomplishment.” The Mustangs were predicted to finish fourth in the league. According to Mr. Bambick, this is the first time since 1988 that the Mustangs have won the league.

The Mustangs also had many players earn Pioneer League honors. Ten players earned a total of 13 spots.
“It was great to come back from an injury and play again. I have no regrets in what I did,” senior Stephen McDonald said.
Junior Tyler McIntosh said much of the reason for the success of the Mustangs was that “people put the team ahead of themselves and did whatever they could to win.”
The JV squad also did well with a 4-3 record. Put in perspective, Iola played primarily freshman on the JV team. Most of their opponents include sophomores and some juniors on the JV squad. The solid performance of the JV team and the valuable experience of the younger players will be very beneficial next year.
The team is excited for next season. Coach Kerr believes that “the sky is the limit as long as the kids put in the time and dedication” because the Mustangs return many players for next season and have many young players coming up.
“This year I think we played pretty well as a team,” McIntosh said. “We had a good first year in the Pioneer League, and we will be even better next year with many players returning.”