ABOUT THE COWBELL — The Perry-Jefferson football series is believed to be the longest-held rivalry in Iowa High School sports history, dating back to a 34-5 win by the Perry YMCA over Jefferson High on October 15, 1898. In 1928 the Perry and Jefferson Rotary Clubs offered a traveling prize, “The Cowbell” to the winning team. The teams will be meeting for the 86th time since the inception of The Cowbell Trophy, with the Rams holding a 55-28 edge. The game was twice ended in a tie. Perry last won the Cowbell with a 45-14 win in the 2013 season opener. The current seniors at Greene County have never lost the prize, winning 24-21 as freshmen, 35-0 as sophomores and 38-0 last year.
LAST MEETING — Winless host Greene County blocked two punts and held a listless Perry squad to under 100 yards of total offense to surprise the guests, 38-0. Ram quarterback Clint Dennhardt threw for two touchdowns and ran for another pair to spark the victors.
ABOUT THE BLUEJAYS — Perry’s four district losses have not been close. The Jays have lost 41-7, 42-7, 42-7 and 42-17 while defeating Gilbert, 31-27, who topped Greene County, 37-31, last Friday.
Quarterback Alexis Garrido is 68-145-6 for 928 yards and nine touchdowns. He has a pair of deadly targets in Brandon Kenyon (31-475, 5 TDs) and Reece Dunlap (28-427, 4 TDs), either of which are one step from scoring every time they touch the ball.
Mark Campos has not played since early in a week three game with Ballard, yet he still leads the team in rushing with 215 yards.
Garrido has 170 yards on 67 carries and two TDs, with Dunlap (30-81) and Donald Chavez (53-76, 1 TD).
Three defensive backs — Kaleb Olejniczak (58), Mana Martinez (54) and Dunlap (31) — lead the team in tackles. The secondary has proven difficult to consistently throw against. The team has eight interceptions and has recovered eight fumbles.
Kicker German Alvarenga is 15-of-15 on PAT kicks and has hit all three field goals he has attempted, with a long effort of 35 yards.
ABOUT THE RAMS — Greene County’s lone win is a 61-21 triumph at Iowa Falls-Alden, who Perry will face next week. The Rams will finish their season against Ballard.
Dennhardt is 81-158-5 for 779 yards and four TDs, with Brent Riley 18-of-37 for 167 yards and two scores.
Trey Hinote is tied for eighth in Class 3A with 32 receptions for 402 yards and a score. Jordan Patterson (13-173, 2 TD), Carter Morton (16-108, 1 TD) and Lance Hughes (18-107, 2 TDs) have also played key roles.
Colby Kafer has rushed 103 times for 629 yards and six TDs, with Dennhardt adding 240 yards and seven scores on 84 totes while Jake Berns (24-92) has also seen his share of carries.
Berns leads the defense with 58.5 tackles. Brock Wuebker has made 32 stops, Clayton Smith 31 and Joe Towers 30.5.
The defense has nine interceptions and six recovered fumbles to their credit.
THE PUNTERS — Greene County junior Austin Delp and Perry senior Alvarenga are fourth and fifth, respectively, in 3A in total punts with 40 and 39. Delp averages 34.7 per boot, with a long of 54, while Alvarenga is fifth among those with at least 20 punts with an average of 38.4 yards. He had a 76-yard punt (third longest in Iowa this year) against Boone.
The high number of attempts testifies to offenses that can stall. Two blocked punts by the Rams helped turn last year’s game — and the kicking/punting game may play a key role again this year.
OUTLOOK — The Rams have rushed for more than 400 more yards than the Bluejays and have thrown 50 additional passes, spreading the ball far more than Perry. However, Dunlap and Kenyon will be match up nightmares for a suspect Ram defense and could tip the balance in Perry’s favor.
The special teams edge belongs with the Bluejays, and it is not to overlooked that in both of their wins Perry had to play well late and make the big play when needed.
Over the past 10 years the game has been unbalanced, with Perry’s three wins (2010, 2012 and 2013) by an average score of 33-12, while the Rams seven victories have been by an average final of 23-6.
In other words, one bitter rival usually whacks the other, and often unkindly.
However, rarely have the teams been so evenly matched as this season, and while a blowout — either way — is possible, look for a winning margin of less than one touchdown.
Greene County at Perry (86th Cowbell Game)
No. 7 Boone at No. 4 Dallas Center-Grimes
Gilbert at Ballard
Iowa Falls-Alden at No. 10 Webster City
Oct. 20 Games
(End regular season)
Perry at Iowa Falls-Alden
Ballard at Greene County
No. 4 Dallas Center-Grimes at Gilbert
No. 10 Webster City at No. 4 Boone