CLINTON — The new turf at Coan Field has treated the Clinton River Kings well so far in the inaugural season on the field turf. Keeping their home record unblemished won’t be an easy task for the River Kings tonight in the homecoming game.
Davenport Assumption brings a 3-1 record to Clinton, and River Kings coach Lee Camp said the Knights are the best team Clinton (2-2) has faced this fall.
“By far,” he said.
The Knights’ lone loss was a 19-13 setback at Pleasant Valley, which is ranked fourth in the Iowa Associated Press Class 4A poll. Assumption is No. 12.
“If you watched film of that (loss), it looked like they were going to win, but a mistake late let PV win,” Camp said.
Assumption features a diverse offensive attack that averages 400 yards a game and a stingy defense that has allowed a Mississippi Athletic Conference low of 210.5 yards a game.
That combination creates two keys for the Kings.
“We have to be real disciplined on defense and keep them from getting in the open field on us,” Camp said. “Offensively, we have to control the ball and get our defense off the field; they’re just out there way too much.”
Last Friday, Muscatine took advantage with 14 second-half points that led it to a 21-7 win against the Kings. Two weeks earlier, the Kings struggled on offense early, leaving the defense on the field for much of the first half as North Scott built a lead and held on for a 31-13 victory in Eldridge.
“In both those halves we left our defense out there way too long,” Camp said.
“We’re thinking we’ve got to quit making some of the mistakes we’ve been doing. Against North Scott, we didn’t take advantage of what North Scott gave us. At Muscatine, we didn’t get on the edge the way we thought we could have.
“We need to make some quicker adjustments.”
Despite the slow start at North Scott and the inability to come up with a big play at Muscatine, Clinton’s offense has performed well at times. It put up 41 points in a season-opening shutout win against Davenport North and came up big in the clutch in a 27-21 overtime win against Davenport Central two weeks ago.
Clinton quarterback Eric Maddasion ranks third in the conference in passing (519 yards), receiver Brady Ernst is tied for third in receiving with 12 catches for 228 yards and Dustin Caldwell is 10th in the MAC in rushing, averaging 73 yards a game.
But, Assumption’s defense hasn’t allowed much this season.
“They’ve gone to a 3-4 and really have good linebackers,” Camp said. “They move around a lot and are going to get after you. They’ve done a lot of blitzing in games we’ve seen.”
Despite the amount of time it has spent on the field, Clinton’s defense ranks fifth in the MAC, allowing just 271.3 yards a game. The River Kings haven’t seen an offense quite as potent as Assumption’s, however.
Assumption quarterback Jake Gervase leads the MAC with a 160.6 passer rating and has thrown for 620 yards, completing 41 of 67 attempts. But, he also is a threat to run, having gained 303 yards on 55 carries, second on the team to James Hua (65 carries, 469 yards).
Gervase reminds a Camp a little of a player who gave the Kings fits a year ago — Randy Schmidt of North Scott, who rushed for 295 yards and passed for 193 against Clinton in a 48-38 win.
“He’s maybe not as all-out quick, but as far as running an offense, he is going to hand off or keep it and get into space,” Camp said. “Their quarterback is probably one of the better athletes in the conference.
“We’ve got our work cut out to make sure we get lined up right and stop him and their offense. They’re probably as overall quick a team as we’ve seen.”
Clinton’s defense also could be missing two key players. Camp said Tom Smith was out with a shoulder injury he suffered on the first play last week and Alex Caldwell was questionable because of a broken thumb.”