North Iowa Knights prepare for inaugural season

POMEROY – Area football fans will have another chance to watch semi-pro action this year.

The North Iowa Knights have joined the Midwest Football Alliance with eight other teams, including the Iowa Sharks, Des Moines Blaze, Heartland Falcons, Nebraska Renegades, Sioux Falls Stallions, Quad City Raiders, Midwest Titans and Sugar Creek Shockers.

“We’re going up against teams from monstrous markets, but we’re trying to build (our roster) with a really strong, close-knit group of guys,” said Knights president Adam Barnhardt, who previously served as media director for the Iowa Eagles. “In a league like (the Midwest Football Alliance), all it takes is repetition.

“Our guys don’t get paid a penny and actually have to pay for their own equipment.”

Pomeroy will be the new home for the Knights, who are under the direction of 1995 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate R.J. Higgins. Following the 2006 season, Higgins helped bring the Iowa Bruisers from Paullina to Manson, where they were later known as the Manson Eagles.

“There wasn’t a team in the area after the (Iowa) Eagles folded and the (Midwest) Rampage (from Webster City) dissolved, so Coach Higgins and I ultimately decided Pomeroy was the best fit since it was about halfway between Fort Dodge and Storm Lake,” Barnhardt said. “We’re also pretty centrally located between towns like Pocahontas, Rockwell City and Emmetsburg.

Brandon Dodson (Webster City), Joel Doolittle (Southeast Webster-Grand), D.J. Erkenbrack (South Central Calhoun), Randy Small (Pomeroy-Palmer), Joey Blades (Southern Cal), Trevor Hood (Manson Northwest Webster), Milton Friedel (Webster City), John Dahlsten (Humboldt), Josh Dahlsten (Pocahontas Area), Mike Meyer (Pocahontas Area), Nick Fredericksen (Twin River Valley), Jacob Schmitt (Pocahontas Area), Michael Maschke (Prairie Valley) and Joe Canavan (Fort Dodge) are among the familiar names on North Iowa’s roster.

“The main thing with this semi-pro team is members of ownership can’t play,” said Barnhardt. “We just don’t want to create that bias where owners think they should be playing more than what they are.”

Barnhardt expects the Knights to feature a spread offensive attack.

“We’re going to lean more toward a passing offense, but we want to be balanced at the same time,” Barnhardt said. “We have a couple of outstanding running backs in Mike Jones and Ray Parker, who played for the Eagles in their last year. Quarterback Brandon Dodson has also played semi-pro for a while and has a really strong and accurate arm.”

Brad Banks, a former University of Iowa All-American quarterback, ex-NFL player and one-time Iowa Barnstormer is also part of North Iowa’s ownership group.

“I used to run a blog for the Iowa Barnstormers when Brad Banks came back to play for (the Barnstormers), and he approached me about doing a website,” said Barnhardt. “I’ve just been talking with him ever since.”

North Iowa’s season debut is set for May 11 at the Midwest Titans. The home opener for the Knights is May 18 against the Quad City Raiders.

Single-game tickets are $7 for adults, while children age 12 and under receive free admission.