River-to-river rivalry: Cy-Hawk battle has featured 313 Iowa preps since 1977

Rick Brown
The Cy-Hawk game has featured 313 Iowa preps since the series resumed in 1977.

Friday night football has a passionate fall following in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. And inside those helmets and shoulder pads, dreams are weaved.

Some kids want to play for Iowa. Others would give anything to play at Iowa State. Some of those dreams come true.

More than you might realize.

Iowa visits Iowa State Saturday in the annual Cy-Hawk game. Bragging rights are on the line in a small-population state that is home to both a Big Ten and Big 12 school. And our study of the starting lineups for each rivalry game since the series was renewed in 1977 reveals what a large slice of Iowa this game represents.

Starters have come from a high school located in 76 different Iowa counties, covering 146 high schools. The Hawkeyes have started 154 Iowa preps over that time, the Cyclones 159. Many of them started in more than one Cy-Hawk game. Thirty-two high schools have produced a starter at both universities.

These numbers represent position players, and not specialists. Iowa State has had seven different punters and 10 different placekickers from Iowa high schools since 1977. Iowa has had seven different punters and eight different placekickers.

Players from this state, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will tell you, have been the heart and soul of every one of his teams.

“Our great leaders tend to be the guys that played high school football in this state, and that’s important in this game,” said Ferentz, in his 17th season as Iowa’s head coach and 26th as a member of the staff.

Iowa State starters have come from 97 different Iowa high schools. Iowa’s have come from 88 different schools.

“It means a great deal to the kids from this state to play in this game,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. “And I think they do a good job, at both universities, of making sure the rest of the kids in the program understand that.”

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The state’s 20 largest cities have produced their fair share of players. City High in Iowa City tops that lists with 17 different players making the starting lineup in this game. West Des Moines Valley and Dowling Catholic are next, with 13 each.

“Valley players have always run through both programs,” said former Tiger all-stater Jake Campos, now Iowa State’s starting left offensive tackle.

But starters have also come from small towns as well, like Kelsey, Masonville, Tabor, Vail, Palo, Crescent, Keystone and Zwingle.

“Whether you come from a town of 100 or 100,000 or 3 million, it really doesn’t matter,” Ferentz said. “It’s what you are and who you are and how you’re going to work towards it.”

The pride that’s on the line can be felt in the stands. And in the huddle.

“This is a game the whole state has their eyes on, and you want to play at your very best,” Rhoads said.

Iowa State's Allen Lazard to be reunited with Iowa's Travis Perry on Saturday.

Interesting matchups abound

Travis Perry played football at Urbandale High School and was the team’s secondary star. But two games into the 2010 season, the senior injured a foot and couldn’t play. In stepped a freshman named Allen Lazard.

“That’s why I got moved up to varsity, because there was nobody else to really back him up at free safety,” Lazard said.

Perry’s secondary coach at Urbandale was Kevin Lazard, a former Iowa State player and Allen’s father. When Travis returned to the lineup with several games remaining, Allen went back to special teams.

“He’s a great kid, and a great football player,” Perry said.

On Saturday, Perry will do his best to stop Lazard. Perry is a fifth-year senior at Iowa, a backup linebacker and special teams player. Lazard, a sophomore, is the Cyclones’ talented receiver and punt return specialist.

“I’m looking forward to it, just like he is,” Perry said.

Family stories with a home-state high school twist are woven throughout this rivalry. Brothers Jim, Jay and Joel Hilgenberg, all Iowa City High graduates, started for the Hawkeyes in this game. So did brothers Joe, Mike and Paul Hufford of Mount Vernon.

There are father-son angles, too. John Arnaud of Sioux City North started at defensive back for the Cyclones in this game in 1980 and 1981. So did his son, Ames High School graduate and quarterback Austen, in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Mike Stensrud of Lake Mills started at defensive tackle for the Cyclones in 1977 and 1978. His son, Andy, also a Lake Mills graduate, started at defensive tackle for Iowa State in 2000.

And there’s also sibling rivalries. Derrik Clark (Twin Rivers) started for Iowa State at linebacker against Iowa in 1997. His brother, Dallas, started for Iowa at tight end against Iowa State in 2001 and 2002.

“This is definitely one of the games I circle on the calendar each year,” Lazard said.

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Boone Myers of Webster City has attended Iowa State-Iowa games in both Iowa City and Ames. His father bought season tickets to Hawkeye games when Boone was in seventh grade – 72 rows up, press box side, 20-yard line.

Now he’ll add his name to the list of former Iowa high school players who have started in this game. Myers is Iowa’s left offensive tackle.

Campos, who starts at the same position for Iowa State, didn’t have a vested interest in this game as a youngster.

“Both my parents went to Drake, so I was pretty neutral growing up,” Campos said. “But I always wanted to see who was better in the state that year.”

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Campos remembers kids in the hallway at school, wearing t-shirts to support their favorite team. He remembers teachers crafting rivalry-inspired bulletin boards. And he remembers starting last season’s game, when Iowa State won, 20-17. Both teams are expected to start six Iowa high school products on Saturday.

“There’s a lot of good talent in Iowa,” said Myers, a redshirt sophomore who joined the Hawkeye program as a walk-on but is now on scholarship.  “It means a lot to be able to play and start at Iowa. It shows kids if you want something, you can get it.”


1985 – Wide receiver Scott Helverson (D.M. East ) has eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in Iowa’s 57-3 victory in Ames.

1986 – Wide receiver Jim Mauro (Dowling Catholic) had five catches for 159 yards and three touchdowns in a 43-7 Iowa victory in Iowa City.

1996 – Iowa running back Tavian Banks (Bettendorf) rushed for 182 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-13 victory in Iowa City. In four career games against the Cyclones, Banks had 49 carries for 384 yards and nine touchdowns.

1997 – Former Iowa preps scored the first eight touchdowns in Iowa’s 63-20 victory in Ames. Banks (Bettendorf) scored the first three TDs on runs. Iowa’s Tim Dwight (Iowa City High) had two TD receptions. Iowa State’s Andy Stensrud (Lake Mills) had a pair of TD catches, sandwiched around another Dwight TD catch.

2000 – Iowa preps accounted for all the scoring in Iowa State’s 24-14 victory at Iowa. J.J. Moses (Waterloo East)  scored on a 58-yard run, quarterback Sage Rosenfels (Maquoketa) had two short TD runs and placekicker Mike McKnight (Fort Dodge) had a field goal and three PATs.

2002 – Jack Whitver (Grinnell) had eight catches for 132 yards and Lane Danielsen (Dike-New Hartford) had five catches for 131 yards as Iowa State rallied from a 24-7 halftime deficit to win at Iowa, 36-31.

2007 – Bret Culbertson (D.M. Lincoln) kicked five field goals, including a 28-yarder with a second to play, to give Iowa State a 15-13 victory over Iowa in Ames.

2009 – Tyler Sash (Oskaloosa) intercepted three Iowa State passes en route to 35-3 Hawkeyes victory in Ames.

2014 – Cole Netten (Ankeny) kicked a 42-yarder with 2 seconds remaining to give the Cyclones a 20-17 victory at Iowa.