For Northwestern head football coach Matt McCarty, his philosophy has been pretty simple when it comes to recruiting: start with local talent, and you’ll build a foundation for winning.
“There’s great football in northwest Iowa, there are great programs, great coaches. We pride ourselves in building our program around northwest Iowa kids,” McCarty said. “And we do believe that if we can get the best kids from northwest Iowa we can win a national championship. And we’re here, so that’s proof of that.”
The Red Raiders roster has 119 players in total. 56 of those come from the Siouxland area. And of those, 53 of them are from northwest Iowa. However, one of McCarty’s biggest challenges in recruiting stems from his high school days. As a West Lyon alum, getting players from the other side of the beef bowl rivalry at Central Lyon has been as big of a challenge as any.
“It’s taken us a while, but we’ve finally cracked through and got some Central Lyon guys,” said McCarty. “We don’t hold it against them, we like those guys too. It’s good, it’s fun. Those guys, when they get to campus, realize they’re a lot more alike than they are different. And I think that’s really fun to see.”
With ten West Lyon players and three from Central Lyon, Coach McCarty still has some work to do to even out those odds. But after high school, those rivalries tend to fade, and what’s left are the lessons Siouxland high school coaches have imparted on their now former athletes.
“We have a lot of guys from the area, and a lot of the kids from here are coached well in high shool, they all work hard,” said senior linebacker and B-H/RV alum Brett Moser. “And so when they come into the program they’re ready to go, and Coach McCarty takes it to the next level. Then add in some kids from out of state and we’ve got a good team.”
“It’s a testament to our high school coaches. Most of them are Northwestern grads as well, so that just shows theres a great tradition of excellence,” said Trevor Rozeboom, a linebacker and West Lyon grad. “Playing with the West Lyon guys has been a phenomenal experience. Noah Van’t Hul and I we grew up going to Northwestern games with our brothers on the team. We’ve been through the system, we watched it, so its fun to be in it as well.”
Every team is a bit of a melting pot of different backgrounds, schools, and everything in between, but the fact that northwestern is so loaded with northwest iowa athletes adds a bit of extra pride for those players that grew up in these communities.
“What we’re creating at Northwestern here is so special because we’re contending for the national championship and that’s something that we built. So we take pride in that,” said senior wideout and former B-H/RV Nighthawk Shane Solberg. “One really cool thing is you see the outreach to all these different communities. I’ve had dads come up to me from West Lyon and say that they remember me from high school and that they’re happy to see me kick butt at Northwestern. It’s really cool to see that aspect of it, and our team does a great job with it as well.”