Intramurals: Masticators unite former college athletes


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Iowa's intramural programs showcase some talented athletes and teams — and some teams are lucky enough to feature former college athletes on their rosters.

The Masticators are one such team. The flag-football squad made up of graduate dental students is home to a number of former college athletes, three of whom are former football players: Brad Adams was a running back at Iowa State, and Dan Scarrow and Cody Kriegel played defense for Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

The three said they know the game of football — and know it well — and that it was only natural to join the Masticators. But there's a certain aspect of the intramural game that feels "unnatural."

They aren't allowed to tackle.

"That's kind of an instinct when you're out there," Kriegel said of tackling. "It's harder to pull flags."
Scarrow agreed.

"It's definitely a different game when you're pulling flags instead of making tackles," he said.

The three have played football all their lives, but it wasn't until junior high that they began to play the sport with full contact and in full pads.

"Seventh grade is when it started to become competitive," Adams said. "Before that it was all flag or no contact."

From that moment on, each player built his knowledge of the sport around tackling opponents.

"We've always been taught to keep running through somebody," said Scarrow, who played linebacker and defensive back for Coe. "Now, we have to stop, run our feet, and pull a flag."

The change has proven easier said than done. Both Scarrow and Kriegel said they found it challenging to stop their opponents in a way that involves little or no contact.

"That's one of the biggest changes, too. When you're going to pull a flag, your mind's telling you to put your shoulder into the guy and take him all the way down," said Kriegel, who was a Kohawk defensive back. "But then you have to try to stop on a dime and pull a flag."

One consequence of their natural sense of tackling were the illegal-contact calls by the referees. An illegal contact is any kind of contact or bump with the shoulder or arms, but the penalty ultimately comes at the official's discretion.

"We got a good half-dozen illegal contact calls before we finally figured it out," Scarrow said. "You want to put your hands on them, and you want to bump them with your shoulders. Once you get called a few times, you have to stop."

Intramurals was a different challenge for Adams — a high-school running back who joined the Cyclones as a walk-on — because of the absence of a real running game in flag football. But he said playing offense is no different from the game he's used to.

Each player's college career began differently. Adams walked on to the Cyclones but not until after he sat out his freshman year in Ames.

"I just missed the game. That's why I came back," he said. "You grow up playing it your whole life, and [when] you try to take a year off, you miss it. You try to get back in it any way you can. For me, that was walking on."

Scarrow decided to play college football after a successful senior campaign in high school in Clear Lake, Iowa. He said taking second at the state football championship made him want to continue playing.

"If we had won, I think I would've been more content," he said. "I just wanted to go and keep playing it."

Kriegel, meanwhile, said he decided to play college football because of the friendships forged on the gridiron.

"Football is, supposedly, the ultimate team sport. It's camaraderie; everybody is brothers on the team," he said. "That's a really close-knit thing that a lot of football teams have that I really enjoy."

Kriegel isn't the only player on the team to have felt that certain bonding experience.

"My favorite part was getting to know everybody," said Adams. "Coming into dental school, I knew one person at the whole university."

Scarrow agreed, despite losing in the intramural playoffs on Oct. 24.

"After week one or week two, we started to mesh quite a bit," he said. "That was the biggest thing we can all take from [this season]."

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