Itasca Community College will head to the Chicagoland area later this week to take part in the fourth-annual Red Grange Bowl; the ICC Vikings football program received the bowl bid - their first ever- after concluding their season with an 8-3 overall record and a runner-up finish in the MCAC State Championship game. The 2019 Red Grange Bowl will be held on Saturday, December 7 with a 1pm kickoff.
Head coach Weldon Braxton and his staff have been prepping their squad to face off with the College of DuPage Chapparals. COD is an independent, non-scholarship NJCAA football program located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and bring a 7-4 into Saturday's contest. The College of DuPage rolled out the first Red Grange Bowl four years ago, as COD hosted Central Lakes College in the inaugural event. Including Itasca, four colleges from the Minnesota College Athletic Conference have participated in the Red Grange Bowl; CLC, Mesabi Range College and Northland Community & Technical College.
Itasca will look to their leaders on both sides of the ball to be successful. The Vikings offense enjoyed a dual threat quarterbacking tandem during the regular season with Brandon Hokkanen and Javon McInnis sharing the signal calling duties. Both freshman quarterbacks have completed 82 passes this season across a spectrum of 13 different receivers. The two have an amazingly similar stat line over the course of 2019; Hokkanen has attempted 144 passes, McInnis 141; each has hit double-digits in touchdowns (Hokkanen 16, McInnis 12) and both have been successful in limiting their interceptions (Hokkanen 6, McInnis 5). Regardless of which was under center, ICC wide receiver Antwan Downs was a frequent and successful target; Downs is currently 1st in the NJCAA in receiving yards per game at 111.3 and 1st in receiving touchdowns with 15. On the ground, Itasca running back Joshua Booker led the Viking running game to the tune of 899 yards so far this season; the sophomore is tops in the NJCAA in touchdowns with 19.
Defensively, ICC will likely lean on Tavian Edwards and Cameron Strapp. The pair of linebackers have racked up 76 and 68 tackles respectively; Strapp has done much of his work behind the opponents line of scrimmage, where he has 11.5 sacks on the year. Both Vikings have shown a penchant for being around the football as well, as the two have combined for four forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and eight pass break-ups on the season. In the secondary, Coach Braxton relies on the ball-hawking ability of Waylon Washington and Maleek Bryant-Davis, who have four interceptions each so far in 2019. Defensive lineman Ranadree Bradley anchors the front for ICC; he has 11 sacks on the year and has accumulated 29 total tackles.
For Itasca Community College, their first-ever bowl appearance brings with it several additional opportunities. Participation in the Red Grange Bowl often brings with it public service components, including time spent at a nearby Feed My Starving Children meal packing site. Additionally, proceeds from the Red Grange Bowl benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
Also, unique to the 2019 edition, the Red Grange Bowl activities will include a visit from author Chris Willis, whose biography of Wheaton native Harold "Red" Grange has reached critical acclaim.
Willis' book, "Red Grange: The Life and Legacy of the NFL's First Superstar" is the focus of a lecture and book signing opportunity from 6 to 9 p.m., Friday, December 6th in the atrium of College of DuPage Physical Education Center.
To learn more about the Red Grange Bowl, the College of DuPage football program and further details for Saturday's clash, go to: https://gochapsgo.com/sports/2019/7/10/red-grange.aspx
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, as well as select member colleges in North Dakota and Wisconsin. The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions. The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.
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