River Kings Visit Defending IFL Champions

by Dakota Zientek

CEDAR RAPIDS - In the third and final matchup between the Iowa rivals, the Cedar Rapids River Kings will travel to the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA to take on the Iowa Barnstormers. Kickoff is set for Saturday, May 4, at 7:05pm CST.

Behind center Cedar Rapids had a new quarterback, Ben Wilkerson. Wilkerson started his first game last week against Nebraska, a 66-42 Danger win. He finished the game with a 50% completion percentage (7-14), resulting in 65 yards, two touchdowns, as well as two interceptions. These stats, if broken down by half, would not look as poor, as Wilkerson’s second half was much better than his first half, which is promising going into his second game as the probable starter.

Rushing-wise, Wilkerson turned 14 rushes into 45 yards and a touchdown. Alongside Wilkerson, Nate Chavious also found the end zone on 10 rushes for 20 yards and a score.

In the air, Wilkerson found three main targets in Marquel Wade (3 receptions, 39 yards), Ezell Ruffin (2 receptions, 23 yards, 1 TD), and Drake White (2 receptions, 13 yards, 1 TD). The River Kings will hope their air game can get upgraded before they have to faceoff against the powerful Barnstormers defense.

On defense, the common occurrence of Nick Brassell being a lead tackler continues for another week. His performance of five total tackles is one that he continues to put up week-after-week. We will see if he can keep up the good work against a very strong offense.

An honorable mention goes to Nate Chavious for his 54-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, his longest of the season and provided a spark for the River Kings.  

The River Kings are hoping this game against their neighbor, the Iowa Barnstormers, results in the second win of the year.

Their quarterback, Daquan Neal, was, once again, the Barnstormers’ offensive stud. He threw for a completion percentage of 73% (19-26), which resulted in 265 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions. There are very few defenses that have been able to stop this man when he drops back for a pass.

On the ground, Neal was also able to rack up 29 yards and 2 touchdowns on nine rushes. Along with Neal, Malik Brown was able to rush for 16 yards and no touchdowns. With a dual-threat quarterback like Neal, not many other players need to do much for this team to get points.

In the air, Neal found Jazeric Peterson (7 receptions, 130 yards, 2 TDs), Ryan Balentine (6 receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD), and Connor Hollenbeck (6 receptions, 55 yards, and 2 TDs) for the majority of his passing success. All of these receivers are capable of having a breakout game, so the River Kings have their work cut out for them in this matchup.

Defensively, the whole Barnstormers defense was able to have a good game, but most notably, Tevin Madison was able to take down eight Sugar Skulls solo, and one time did he need to be assisted.

If you would like to catch this game in person, it will be played at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA. If you want to watch this game in the comfort of your own leather recliner, you can do that! All you have to do is go to the IFL’s YouTube Channel and you’ll see a thumbnail of both teams’ logo. The game will be kicking off around 7:05pm CST, so get ready for an Iowa matchup for the ages!