Discipline on defense will be the key for the Alta football team Friday night, when it travels to district opponent Pocahontas Area.
That's according to Cyclone grid coach Kevin Hammer, whose team had a few defensive breakdowns last week in a 22-21 loss to Class 2A Okoboji.
"We still have some work to do this week on defense," said Hammer. "Poky is a very hard-nosed, well-coached football team and is the favorite in our district."
But Hammer likes the tough schedule his team has played so far. His team opened with a strong defensive performance in a 21-14 win over Battle Creek-Ida Grove.
At Okoboji last week, Alta led 14-0 at the half, with Okoboji having to rally for a late touchdown and a two-point conversion for the win.
In that game, the Cyclones gave up scoring runs of 55-and 59-yards to running back Dan Rolling.
"We go into the Poky game having been tested well the past two weeks, so we feel good about that," Hammer said.
Offensively against Okoboji, the Cyclones rolled up 328 yards of offense, but the breakdowns contributed to them giving up 330.
"We just have to be a little more disciplined on defense," he said. "We need every player on the defensive unit to do his job and carry out his assignment."
Despite being pre-season favorite in Class 1A, District 2, Pocahontas has yet to experience a win in 2004.
Poky opened the season with a 22-21 loss to Class 3A Humboldt and lost last week 14-13 to Manson Northwest-Webster.
"Offensively, they are tough and like to run right at you," Hammer said. "On defense, they play a five-man front and like to do a lot of slanting. They'll bring people and they are very aggressive on defense.
"Offensively, Poky doesn't pass much; they'll run right at you and only pass if they have to. If we play disciplined football and take care of our assignments , we have a chance to win. If we don't, we will probably have a tough time."
Pocahontas has to have some concerns about the Alta offense as well. The Cyclones return a big and experienced offensive line, all-district and 1,000 yard running back Joel Corlew and starting quarterback Brad Payne.
"We've been pretty good on offense, although we've been putting the ball on the ground a little too more than we have in the past," Hammer said.
"We'll be a lot like Pocahontas in that we want to establish the ground game first, but I still feel we can throw the ball pretty well."
He added: "We'll have to avoid drive-killing penalties."