Redzo Ibisevic devours platefuls of Bosnian food in the hope of dominating football foes, too.
Ibisevic, an Urbandale offensive tackle who stands 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, is one of several talented linemen in this fall’s newly formed Class 4-A Division 1.
He’s been able to add strength by putting away plates of his mother’s protein-rich cevapi, a Bosnian sausage, and burek, a meat-filled pastry.
“You put good things in, you get good things out,” Ibisevic said.
Pass the food. And the victories.
Across the division, players are running through drills to prepare for Friday’s season-opening games. Linemen are reaping the rewards of a summer of trying to build larger frames.
There are six teams in Division 1, one of four divisions among 4-A teams in central and western Iowa schools.
The 18 Central Iowa Metropolitan League teams and five Missouri River Activities Conference programs were folded into new configurations for this season.
Division 1 is comprised of reigning state champion West Des Moines Valley, Des Moines Lincoln, Urbandale, Indianola, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson and Sioux City East. Lincoln won the CIML Metro last fall and East took the MRAC crown.
Big, talented CIML linemen have emerged:
* Valley’s Sam Raridon, a 260-pound Elite all-state defensive lineman, will play at Wisconsin. His 6-7, 250-pound teammate, Jake Campos, plans to attend Missouri.
* Indianola boasts two-way lineman Keegan Render, a 300-pound junior who is a Division I prospect.
* Lincoln’s offensive line returns starters such as guard Brendon Bolokor, center Asher Scaglione and tackle Donny Reinig. Each of them weigh 230 pounds or more.
* Urbandale defender Shaquille Wells checks in at 280 pounds.
* East’s Jon McReynolds and Jefferson’s Nolan Neaman are each 260-pound lineman.
Lincoln’s Bolokor said he gained 25 pounds since last season. He supplemented work in the school weight room with sessions at the YMCA.
“I’m definitely quicker,” Bolokor said. “I feel bigger and stronger.”
Bolokor weighs about 235 pounds now.
Every bit helps for the Railsplitters.
“We’re never big,” Lincoln coach Tom Mihalovich said. “We try to be as physical as we can.”
Mihalovich said Iowa high school teams are going to spread offenses to take advantage of quick athletes operating behind strong offensive lines.
“It’s all up front that counts,” Mihalovich said.
Ibisevic said offensive and defensive linemen often get overlooked.
“Without us, you can’t score any points or stop anybody,” Ibisevic said.
He said he’s been joined in the school weight room by many of his teammates.
“When you’ve got a 300-pound nose guard coming at you, it really helps to keep your body strong,” Ibisevic said.
Ibisevic, a senior, said he is planning a team meal later this season that features Bosnian cuisine.
Lincoln’s Bolokor said his team is ready for the season after lifting weights this summer.
“We’re definitely going to come out strong,” Bolokor said.
COUNCIL BLUFFS JEFFERSON
COACH: Mark Puev, 3-14, third season
LAST SEASON: 2-6
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: WR/DB Michael Speight, WR/DB Jakahi Gregory, OL/DL Nolan Neaman, OL/DL Brett Sprinkle, QB/DB Dominic Wilson, RB/LB Mike White, WR/LB Jake Hobbs, WR/LB Caleb Skou.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Wilson intercepted five passes and gained 1,500 total yards on offense.
UPSIDE: The team has polished its spread offense for two seasons. Wilson was an all-conference first-team pick last year.
DOWNSIDE: Breaking out of a losing tradition has been difficult. The school’s only playoff trip came in 2008.
DID YOU KNOW? Jakahi Gregory, a track sprinter, averaged 19 yards a catch.
SCHEDULE: Aug. 24 vs. D.M. North; Aug. 31 at Glenwood; Sept. 7 vs. C.B. Ab. Lincoln; Sept.14 at Hoover; Sept. 21 S.C. East; Sept. 28 at D.M. Lincoln; Oct. 5 Indianola; Oct.12 at Valley; Oct. 19 Urbandale
COACH: Eric Kluver, 10th season, 26-49
LAST SEASON: 1-8
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: OL/DL Blake Beard, LB Hayden DeBlieck, RB/DB Matt Mitchell, OL/DL Keegan Render
PLAYER TO WATCH: Render is 6-foot-4, 300 pounds and a major-college recruit. He had 14 tackles and intercepted a pass. He’s a junior and is being pursued by Iowa and other Bowl Subdivision schools. Render also was a thrower on the track team.
UPSIDE: Good size on the line between Render and Beard, a senior who weighs 260 pounds.
DOWNSIDE: Four of the team’s five top tacklers graduated.
DID YOU KNOW: Joey Gioffredi also plays baseball and runs track. He’s a junior receiver.
SCHEDULE: Aug.17 at D.M. Hoover; Aug. 24 Oskaloosa; Aug. 31 at D.M. Roosevelt; Sept. 7 C.B. Lewis Central; Sept. 14 Ottumwa; Sept. 21 at W.D.M. Valley; Sept. 28 S.C. East; Oct. 5 at C.B. Thomas Jefferson; Oct. 12 at Urbandale; Oct. 19 D.M. Lincoln.
DES MOINES LINCOLN
COACH: Tom Mihalovich, 12th season, 57-49
LAST SEASON: 9-2
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: LB/TE Trevon Young, OG Brendon Bolokor, LB/DE Michael Walker, RB/DB Jordan Cheatem, C Asher Scaglione, OT Donny Reinig, PK Dakota Sanchez
PLAYER TO WATCH: Cheatem is the team’s leading returning rusher with 517 yards. He also had 41 tackles and three interceptions.
UPSIDE: Seven players earned first- or second-team all-Metro honors last season. Michael Downing passed for 510 yards. Good size and experience on the offensive line.
DOWNSIDE: Limited experience in the backfield and on the defensive line.
DID YOU KNOW: Cheatem was a state track qualifier in the 100 meters.
SCHEDULE: Aug. 24 Johnston; Aug. 31 at Ankeny; Sept. 7 Roosevelt; Sept. 14 at D.M. East; Sept. 21 at Urbandale; Sept. 28 C.B. Thomas Jefferson; Oct. 5 W.D.M. Valley; Oct. 12 at Sioux City East; Oct. 19 at Indianola.
SIOUX CITY EAST
COACH: Bob Goodvin, fourth season, 18-14
LAST SEASON: 5-6
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: WR/CB Dom Thompson Williams, WR Ronald Nash, TB/WR Marcel Dunson, OT Jon McReynolds, DT Brandon Cabney, OG Nate Saunders, OB/TB Wyatt Mounts.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Leading receiver Thompson Williams caught 44 passes for 642 yards and five touchdowns last season.
UPSIDE: Strong skill players return. Overall team speed is very good. Last year’s sophomore team finished undefeated.
DOWNSIDE: There’s not much experience at quarterback. Graduate Alex Imming gained more than 2,600 yards last fall.
DID YOU KNOW? Thompson Williams earned all-state honors in baseball.
SCHEDULE: Aug. 24 at S.C. Heelan; Aug. 31 Fort Dodge; Sept. 7 at S.C. North; Sept. 14 S.C. West; Sept. 21 at C.B. Thomas Jefferson; Sept. 28 at Indianola; Oct. 5 Urbandale; Oct. 12 D.M. Lincoln; Oct. 19 at W.D.M. Valley.
COACH: Sam Anderson, ninth season, 97-73 overall
LAST SEASON: 6-5
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: WR/DB Allen Lazard, RB Markell Colemon, OL Redzo Ibisevic, OL Justin Haun, DL Shaquille Wells, DB Jaylan Alexander, DB Ryan Lillard.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Colemon ran for 748 yards and six touchdowns. He led the team in rushing.
UPSIDE: Lazard was an Elite all-state defensive back. The J-Hawks have good confidence entering 2012 after earning a playoff berth last season.
DOWNSIDE: Lack of experience on defense and on the line.
DID YOU KNOW? Lazard’s father, Kevin, played at Iowa State.
SCHEDULE: Aug. 24 at Fort Dodge; Aug. 31 D.M. Hoover; Sept. 7 Johnston; Sept. 14 at W.D.M. Dowling; Sept. 21 D.M. Lincoln; Sept. 28 at W.D.M. Valley; Oct. 5 at S.C. East; Oct. 12 Indianola; Oct.19 at C.B. Thomas Jefferson.
COACH: Gary Swenson, 18th season, 292-94 overall
LAST SEASON: 14-0
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: DL Sam Raridon, OT Jake Campos, OL Cameron Hansen, WR Clint Bofelli, WR/DB Tanner Hinkle, RB Tyus Mason, P Holden Kramer.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Raridon earned Elite all-state honors last year as a defensive lineman.
UPSIDE: Confidence is high on Woodland Ave. after an unbeaten season. Raridon (Wisconsin) and Campos (Missouri) are Bowl Subdivision recruits.
DOWNSIDE: The team graduated 50 seniors, including all-state running back Trey Lewis.
DID YOU KNOW? Campos has a 3.96 grade-point average and plans to study engineering in college.
SCHEDULE: Aug. 17 at Ottumwa; Aug. 24 at Waukee; Aug. 31 vs. Dowling (at Valley Stadium); Sept. 7 at SE Polk; Sept. 21 Indianola; Sept. 28 Urbandale; Oct. 5 at D.M. Lincoln; Oct. 12 C.B. Thomas Jefferson; Oct. 19 S.C. East.