Below is a media recap after our first game. You can also view this article on our website - www.iowathunderfootball.com:
On Saturday, the Iowa Thunder kicked off their season on the road against their divisional rival the Kansas City Spartans at Shawnee North District High School in Overland Park, KS. The Thunder enters this season with high expectations and a desire to set a tone from day one that they fully intend to be in the mix for the Midwest Divisional Crown.
This game would prove to be a defensive battle from the outset. The Spartans, who are loaded with former defensive standouts from the powerful Oklahoma City Lightning of the now defunct NWFA were able to contain the high powered attack of the Thunder most of this night. Most of the first quarter was a back and forth battle of wills between two teams for field position. The loss of All American Center, Kerri Gray on the first play of the game due to injury seemed to throw off one of the top offenses in the WFA from getting any kind of rhythm. With the loss of Gray, the Thunder plagued themselves early with dropped passes, penalties, and missed assignments. Finally, late in the 2nd quarter, Offensive Coordinator, Isaiah Shnurman went to his bread and butter and Thunder finally struck. The Thunder Offensive Line was able to get 2009 WFA MVP Jennifer Boling outside on a sweep and a devastating pancake block by Fullback Lulu Keo on the only available tackler for the Spartans led to a 22 yard touchdown.
The Thunder would follow up this touchdown several minutes later with another 11 yard touchdown by Boling to make the score 13-0. Two series later, with only seconds remaining at the end of the 1st half, Head Coach William Grimes used his timeouts effectively to secure the ball from the Spartans with only 3.4 seconds left. A 30 yard field goal that went sailing through the up rights with no time left on the clock which sent the Thunder into the half with a 16-0 lead.
The second half would continue to be a defensive struggle with neither offense able to score and both defenses scoring on fumble returns. The Thunder Defense would end the night by giving up a total of -13 yards on the night and taking away the ball 10 times from the Spartans. Defensive Coordinator, Ron Crowdis stated, “We had a season’s worth of takeaways in one night and a defensive touchdown.” While the offense of the Thunder was unable to put it in the end zone in the second half, they were able to eat up a lot of the clock and retain field position for their defense.
When asked after the game about his team’s performance, Coach William Grimes responded, “I am always happy when we win, but I am not happy about our performance and I know my players and coaching staff feel the same way as we have very high expectations and goals for ourselves. As a Football Coach, you always have a chance if you can win two of the three areas between Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. Tonight we won the defensive and special team’s areas and they carried us to victory. My Defense did an amazing job, but if you told me before the game that we would get 10 turnovers and only score 22 points, I would have laughed. My kicker, Kendra Parker and punter, Allie Millonig did an excellent job of securing field position and Parker’s 30 Yard field goal as time ran out at the end of the second quarter was huge. Several Rookies came up huge for us tonight as well. Marcie Wilson, who never took a snap at Center was forced into the game after Gray went down and did an amazing job. Defensive Back Alexis Pena’s interception and Linebacker Amanda Alden’s fumble recovery for a touchdown were huge. I am a firm believer that in any championship run you will always face a game or two where nothing seems to work and you are forced to rely on pure grit and determination to win. To win a championship, you must win even the ugly games when things just do not seem to be going your way. Tonight was one of those nights for our offense and some other areas and it is my responsibility to get it fixed.”
The Thunder was led by All-Americans Jennifer Hirakawa (DE/LB) (16 total tackles, 4 Tackles for Loss, 3 Sacks, and 7 Forced Fumbles), Cindy Taft (LB) (12 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss, 1 Sack, 2 Forced Fumble, and 4 Fumble Recoveries), and Brianna Robinson (DT) (10 total tackles, 4 Tackles for Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles, and 2 Hurries).