Iwema moonlights to aid Huskie cause

By Dave Tuley

When a football player is named a team’s top offensive player for two out of three games, you would not think he would be moved to another position.

But that is not the case with NIU’s Kent Iwema. The 6-foot-1, 209-pound senior has been moved from tight end to fullback after being honored as the Huskies’ Offensive Player of the Week in the tie against Northwestern three weeks ago and for last Saturday’s homecoming win over Toledo.

“He’s a hard-working player and an unselfish athlete,” head coach Jerry Pettibone said. “His versatility has meant a great deal to the offense this year.”

The change stems from injuries to NIU’s other fullbacks. Tim Peshek has been slowed at times this year and Antonio Davis will miss the Southwest Missouri State game Saturday with a “turf toe” injury on the big toe of his right foot. Iwema was nursing a knee injury himself earlier this week, but is expected to play.

Despite starting all 11 games last year and the first five this season at tight end, Iwema does not make the move unqualified. He gained 184 yards on 50 carries at fullback in 1985 after only having four rushes for 14 yards his red-shirt freshman season. Against Toledo last week he carried 4 times for 27 yards, including a 17-yarder.

When Pettibone made a permanent switch last year from the veer to the wishbone, Iwema moved to the blocker/receiver position of tight end. He caught three passes for 57 yards after going the first seven games without a reception.

“It was a good move at the time,” said Iwema, who then said he is glad to be more involved in the action and get the ball more frequently.

This year he was catchless until last week when he grabbed a 44-yard scoring strike from Marshall Taylor.

Iwema actually called the play which resulted in his first touchdown since he scored on a 4-yard run against Ohio on Nov. 16, 1985.

“At halftime he mentioned to Russ Graham, who coaches the tight ends, that he felt the cornerbacks weren’t paying too much attention to him when he released on running plays,” Pettibone said. “Russ then told (offensive coordinator) Pat Ruel, who made a note of it and called the play when he thought it would work. And it did.”

Iwema said he was surprised the play resulted in a touchdown, although he knew he had a chance once he caught the ball.

“I had a feeling I could go all the way because I knew I was deeper than the guy who was on me,” he said.

The industrial supervision major, who plans on going into insurance or real estate sales when his playing days are over, said he wants to end his Huskie career with a winning team.

“I came in here with a winner and I want to go out with one,” said Iwema, who was red-shirted during the 1983 California Bowl season. “This year has already gone pretty well with the awards. It’s more than I expected. I like being recognized for the blocking and the unglamorous-type work.”