REINBECK - Almost like clockwork, the end of October rolls around and the Gladbrook-Reinbeck football team sports one of Class 1A's top defenses and is sitting at seven or eight wins at the end of the regular season.
This fall has been no different as 2011 has been a year of picks as the Rebels (8-1) prepare to host Dike-New Hartford (7-2) on Wednesday in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck has won seven or more regular season games in seven of the last eight years. The Rebels defensively have allowed less than 14 points per game and ranked in the top 16 in 1A six times over the last eight years. Included in that run of top defenses is this year's unit which stands tied for 13th in 1A at 12.44 points allowed per game.
"I've been playing on defense since I was a sophomore and this is the best defense we've had since I've been in high school," said G-R senior safety Parker Bolt.
"It's a lot of fun to play with these guys. We've got a great bunch of guys and we go out and play hard on defense every play."
Interceptions have been a key factor for Gladbrook-Reinbeck as it is one of the state's all-class leaders with 18 picks. Bolt has nine interceptions to lead Iowa high school football and is tied for the school single-season record. Bolt's 130 return yards rank third in 1A.
"Free safety, that's what your job is, ball hawk, go after the ball when it's in the air," Bolt said. "That's what I've tried to do all year. Our coaches have done a really good job of teaching that."
Brady Billerbeck leads the Rebels' defense with 112 total tackles and six fumble recoveries. Mack Wheeldon has a team-high 17 tackles for loss. Cobren Bird, Austin Charley and Billerbeck each have two interceptions, while Jackson Clark has the team's only INT return for a score.
Bolt, also in his second year as G-R's starting quarterback, had a three-interception game in Week 8 against South Hamilton.
"Parker understands the game," said Gladbrook-Reinbeck head coach John Olson. "He can see the whole field. Sometimes at safety, people have tunnel vision, they know their job and they know what they're supposed to do. At safety, it's a little bit like quarterback, you have to know what everyone's doing, you have to know where everyone's going and you have to have a sense for it. He has that sense for it."
On offense, Bolt is 99-for-198 passing for 1,463 yards with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also threw for 1,433 yards as a junior to have two of the top single-season yardage marks in program history.
"He's obviously one of our players we're counting on a lot," Olson said. "He's smart and he knows the offense really, really well."
Bolt stands fifth in 1A in passing yards and his counterpart on Wednesday, Josh Rekers of Dike-New Hartford, is sixth. Rekers has 1,423 yards with 11 touchdowns.
The Rebels' picking crew will have a challenge on their hands getting the ball from Rekers.
Rekers went the first eight games of the year without an interception and has been picked off once in 164 throws.
Kickoff Wednesday night in Gladbrook is set for 7 p.m. D-NH has won two in a row in the series, including last year's 33-14 victory in the first round of the playoffs in Gladbrook. The Wolverines advanced to the state championship game last November.