Getting to know the 2015 Des Moines East Scarlets

Photo: Des Moines Register

By Matt Gruemmer

It’s no secret throughout Des Moines that football teams in the Central Iowa Metro League set their pre-season goals at a very high level. This fact is no different for East High’s Greg Schoon who has set one tall task for his troops this upcoming season: Lead the state in turnover margin.

Coming off a 4-4 campaign a year ago that saw wide margins of both victory and defeat along with a controversial no-contest game with Ames that was erased from the record books, the Scarlets have a reason to believe their high goals can be achieved.

Des Moines East returns a plethora of talent on the offensive side of the football, including quarterback Jaron Turner who compiled five rushing and five passing touchdowns last season. Turner completed nearly 50 percent of his 151 passes in 2014, averaging 10.9 yards per completion for a total of 817 yards through the air. The Scarlets will utilize that experience in combination with nearly their entire starting line from a year ago to generate scoring in 2015.

Graduating four of its five leading tacklers, the team will need several players to rise up early to warrant defensive success. Linebacker Rory Walling led East as a sophomore in 2014 with 58.5 total tackles and 37 solo takedowns. Walling, along with three senior defensive backs, looks to lead the Scarlets in a league dominated by grueling offensive attacks.

With the depth of starters returning for Des Moines East, the biggest question that looms for Coach Schoon’s team is can they stay healthy enough to compete at a weekly level? The Scarlets anxiously await answering that questions in the coming Friday nights.

Des Moines East Stats

2014 record: 4-4 overall, 2-2 conference

Head Coach: Greg Schoon, 6th season, 20-28

Returning offensive starters

RB Brandon Trotter, SR

QB Jaron Turner, SR

G David Razo, SR

T Jared Hall, SR

T Zach Stemsrud, SR

G Anthony Arroyo, JR

G Case Tillotson, JR

WR/DB/Ret Gerald Sama, JR

Returning defensive starters

MLB Billy White, SR

OLB Austin Hunter, SR

OLB Rory Walling, JR

FS Hunter Kahler, SR

Total returning letterwinners: 6

Offensive Scheme: Spread

Defensive Scheme: 4-3

Team Goals: Improve on our offensive efficiency and lead the state in turnover margin

2015 Schedule (district games in bold)

08/28 vs. Des Moines, Roosevelt

09/04 @ Des Moines, North

09/11 vs. Indianola

09/18 @ Des Moines, Abraham Lincoln

09/25 vs. Southeast Polk

10/02 @ Ankeny

10/09 vs. Council Bluffs, Thomas Jefferson

10/16 @ Ames

10/23 vs. Sioux City, North

Big Plays Propel Valley to Second Round With 56-7 Win Over D.M. East

The mantra “always be prepared” is a tried and true statement. Javon Mason took those words to heart. When his name was called, he didn’t disappoint as he rushed for 117 yards as the Valley Tigers easily dispatched an undersized Des Moines East Scarlets team, 56-7, in a Class 4A first round game at Valley Stadium.

Tigers scored by land and by air, literally, and Mason landed the knockout punch when he out-rushed the Scarlets’ defense for a 78 yard touchdown run as the third quarter ended. Mason has become into a reliable go-to guy when he fills in for starting running back Drew Gray. The Tigers’ offense netted 491 total yards and converted on five of eight third downs on an East defense that led Class 4A in takeaways.

Drew Gray scored two of his three touchdowns on the first two Valley drives, one from 10 yards and the second from 6. Gray did much of his work in the first half, carrying the ball 10 times for 90 yards and tacked on a third touchdown in the second quarter. Blake Salsbury’s 4 yard run into the endzone bumped the Valley lead to 21-0 before the end of the first quarter.

It was an unusually quiet night for Tigers’ quarterback Rocky Lombardi and wide receiver Dominique Dafney (1 reception, 19 yards). Lombardi completed 6 of 11 passes for 183 yards and two scores. The first came with 4:17 left in the first half on a 21-yard swing pass to Drew Gray, and the second one with 55 seconds before the break when he found Austin Hinkle streaking towads the endzone and hit him for a 49-yard strike. The Hinkle score sent Valley into the locker room with a 42-0 lead at the break.

East got on the scoreboard with 1:28 left in the third quarter on a seven yard touchdown run by quarterback Chino Alcala, who led the Scarlets in passing (12-22, 130 yards, 2 interceptions), and rushing (15 carries, 36 yards). That score was sandwiched between two more Dowling touchdowns. Backup quarterback Will Loundsbury connected with Peter Lewis for an 11-yard score and the aforementioned long scoring run by Mason.

Juleo Harris hauled in 4 catches for 40 yards for East as they concluded their season at 4-5.

Valley (9-1) advances to the second round on Monday, November 3rd, as they will host the Johnston Dragons. The Dragons (7-3) stunned Ankeny Centennial (7-3), 34-6, at Ankeny Stadium in a first-round game.

2nd season begins: Scarlets and Tigers Begin March to a Championship

EastDSM_Scarlets_logo Valley_Tigers_logo

Two weeks ago, Des Moines East was sitting at 1-2 in their district and facing a crucial game against Ames. In a blink of an eye, there was no game. A false internet threat of violence at East set off a wild chain of events that resulted in Ames backing out of playing at East and the Scarlets being forced to forfeit. After several days of outrage and bewilderment, the forfeit was changed to a “no contest”, which meant the game didn’t count on East’s record.

The events gave East (4-4) a chance to reset and control their own destiny towards the playoffs. After a resounding win over Sioux City North, what was once a lost opportunity now became a reality for Coach Greg Schoon’s bunch:  a playoff run.

The old saying goes, to be the best you have to beat the best. The Scarlets will get that chance as they drew #4-ranked West Des Moines Valley in a Class 4A 1st round game Wednesday night at Valley Stadium.

Courtesy: Des Moines Public Schools

East racked up 581 total yards, 472 on the ground in their 62-35 thumping of S.C. North. Quarterback Chino Alcala rushed for 250 yards and passed for 109, while running back Brandon Trotter racked up 233 yards against the Stars’ defense. Alcala’s go-to receivers have been Josh Davis and Jaylin James, who have combined for a little over 850 receiving yards and 50 receptions between them.

Lead by linebackers Rory Walling and Juleo Harris, East High’s defense leads Class 4A in takeaways. Walling, a sophomore, has been nothing short but impressive in the defensive lineup.

The Valley Tigers (8-1) dominated Des Moines Lincoln, 62-0, in their regular season finale. Everyone knows about the usual suspects of (Rocky) Lombardi, (Dominique) Dafney, and (Drew) Gray, but Mr. Versatility, Blake Salsbury, is called upon to contribute in any way for Gary Swenson’s Tigers. He scored both a running and receiving TD against the Rails on Friday, from his fullback position. Gray broke the 1,000 yard rushing barrier by picking up 147 yards on the ground and two touchdowns against the Railsplitters (3-6). Dafney had another stellar performance, hauling in 6 catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

Will East find a way to chip away at Valley and put a monkey wrench into the Tigers’ pursuit of a state title, or will Valley send the Scarlets packing for the winter?

Who: Des Moines East 4-4) at #4 WDM Valley (8-1)

Where: Valley Stadium, West Des Moines, Iowa

When: Wednesday, October 29th, 7:00pm kickoff

The Facts: East defeated SC North 62-37 and finished 2-2 for 4th place in Class 4A District 1.  Valley cruised to a 62-0 win over DM Lincoln, completing an 8-1 season and a 4A District 4 title and plus have won 8 straight. The last time the Scarlets and the Tigers met, ironically, was a first-round playoff game on November 3, 2004. Valley eliminated East 49-14, en route to a runner-up finish for the 4A state title (losing to Bettendorf 34-22).

Things to watch:

  • Will there be enough East athleticism to score a program-defining win?
  • Can East’s defense force Valley’s offense to turn the ball over?
  • Will a rested and healthy Valley be primed for a run towards the UNI-Dome?
  • 8 straight wins for Valley, will 9 be fine for the Tigers behind a stingy D?

Des Moines East – Projected Lineups

Offensive starters – QB Chino Alcala; RB Brandon Trotter; WR Quincy Green, Juleo Harris, Gerald Sama, and Hunter Kahler; C Tim Carney, G Case Tillotson and David Razo, T Billy White and Zach Stemsrud.

Defensive starters – FS Hunter Kahler, CB Quincy Green and Gerald Sama, LB Rory Walling, Austin Hunter, Jonathan Harrington and Juleo Harris; DE Billy White and Cirima Bangura, DT Alex Contreras, NG Eric Ridgner

Special Teams – P Chino Alcala, K Javier Guerrero, LS Rory Walling, KR Brandon Trotter, PR Juleo Harris and Quincy Green

Valley – Project Starting Lineups

Offensive starters – QB Rocky Lombardi, RB Drew Gray and Blake Salsbury, WR Dominique Dafney and Austin Hronich, TE John Gliniecki, T Cody Genzen and Sam Rogers, G John Rairdon and Zachary Matt, C Brady Smith

Defensive starters – NG Trey Walsh, DT Dan McCoy and Zach Downs, DE Austin Turner, CB Matt Vertin and Turner Scott, LB Nick Yencer, Mason Berg and Ben Campos, S Gabe Honnold and Keller Prien

Special Teams – P Zach Downs, K Cole Hahn, KR Javon Mason

Courtesy: Andrea Melendez (Des Moines Register)

Our live pregame show on the Central Iowa Sports Network ( will begin at 6:50 pm, with kickoff at 7 pm.

The game will be live streamed audio only.

Join Paul Yeager, Dar Danielson, and Keith Borness for the play-by-play, with Jim Kirby on the field with the Scheels sideline report.

Follow us on Twitter @CISportsNet for updates throughout the game.






Getting to Know You: Des Moines East Scarlets

DMEast_Scarlets2013 was a sub-par year for Coach Greg Schoon and the East Scarlets, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. Injuries and turnovers during crucial moments in games were their undoing in several close games. Schoon is excited about this year’s squad that will consist of new junior and senior starters to complement senior QB Chino Alcala, WR Jason Jeffries on offense, and a trio of senior LBs lead by senior Alex Contreras on defense.

Des Moines East Stats

2013 Record: 2-7 overall, 1-4 Division 4

2014 Class & District: Class 4A, District 1

Coach: Greg Schoon

Returning Starters – Offense

Chino Alcala, QB, 12,

Jason Jeffries, WR, 12

Javier Guerror, K, 12

Brandon Trotter, RB, 11

Billy White, OL, 11

Returning Starters – Defense

Jaylin James, CB, 12

Alex Contreras, LB, 12

Jonathon Harrington, LB, 12

Juleo Harris, LB, 12

Eric Ridgner, 12, DL

Returning Letterwinners: 15

Interesting stories about the squad, players, or upcoming season: The Scarlets’ strength is overall team athleticism in all positions. Schoon is excited about the improvements on the freshmen and sophomore/JV level. The biggest challenge is filling in new starters at key position, especially on the defensive and offensive side of the line. Inexperience is always a potential problem, Schoon cited, but he is excited about this year’s team and looking forward to help them excel.

2014 Schedule (District games in bold)

Aug. 29 @ Des Moines Roosevelt

Sept. 5 Des Moines North

Sept. 12 @ Indianola

Sept. 19 Des Moines Lincoln

Sept 26 @ Southeast Polk

Oct. 3 Ankeny

Oct. 10 @ Council Bluffs Jefferson

Oct. 17 Ames

Oct. 24 @ Sioux City North