After nearly half the football season, the Wartburg Knights are still undefeated at 5-0. Last weekend, their defense held the defending conference champion Coe Kohawks, who had scored 160 points in the first four weeks of the season, to only seven.
This was thanks in no small part to Wartburg’s secondary, which had 5 interceptions, including one by Peyton Imhof. This interception was Imhof’s fourth of the season. He had recorded an interception in every game the Knights had played up until their last game against Central.
“He’s developed into a really good playmaker,” head coach Rick Willis said. “The more he’s played, the more confident and comfortable he’s gotten and I think it’s allowed him to become a playmaker in our secondary.”
Fellow cornerback JoJo McNair, a new acquisition for the team this season, similarly points to Imhof’s strength as a player, but he also feels Imhof is an effective mentor.
“He brings a lot of energy and a lot of experience from me being a freshman, so he’s helping me out to be in the right position,” McNair said.
When asked how he keeps up his defensive statline, Imhof himself points to the study he puts in every week rather than his athletic ability.
“Every week is a new week and we just gameplan, take a lot of time in the film room. Coach puts us in a good position to make plays,” Imhof said. He also gives credit to the defensive line and the linebackers for the pressure they put on the quarterback, saying it allows him to make plays more easily.
As far as the play of the defense generally, Imhof said the caliber of the team’s play is relative to its experience and to the ability of the defense to communicate effectively.
Wartburg is about to come to the halfway point in the football season, and Imhof believes that he can become even better than he already is.
“Personally, I have to just focus on my technique. The more repetitions I can get against different looks from the offenses will always help. Just keep working to get better in every facet of the game.”
Willis acknowledged a marked improvement in the team’s defensive play from last year, saying that the defense is moving and attacking better. Imhof said the defense is excited to take on the rest of the Iowa Conference down the stretch and McNair takes that even one step further.
“Our mindset is that we want to be the best defense in this conference and I think we’re working our way to becoming the best defense,” McNair said.