When Newell-Fonda coach Brian Wilken says every district game is difficult, he's not talking in coaching cliches.
In 2004, that just might be true.
The Mustangs have survived two tough district tests to open the season, beating rival Schaller-Crestland 14-7 in its opener and shutting down big and physical Graettinger-Terril last Friday night in their home opener.
Now the Mustangs face another roadblock to a district title Friday night when they play Southeast Webster on the road.
But so far, so good, for the most part.
"Our defense has been just outstanding," said Wilken in assessing the first two weeks. "We gave up just seven points and 113 yard rushing to a solid Schaller-Crestland team and last week, we shut out another good team in Graettinger-Terril."
Wilken, however, does has some concerns about his team's performances on offense.
"We aren't putting up the offensive numbers like we have in the past couple of years," he said. "We haven't rushed for over 200 yards in a game yet and we aren't executing at a level on offense yet that we're satisfied with."
Southeast Webster enters Friday night's game at 2-0, having opened with a 26-19 win over Laurens-Marathon before beating district foe Clay Central-Everly 24-20 last week.
According to Wilken, Southeast Webster enters Friday night's game with the district rushing leader in Cody King. He added that King has rushed for just 300 yards in his first two games.
In addition, Southeast Webster currently leads the district in offensive production overall.
"They like to run right at you with some outstanding athletes behind a very big offensive line," Wilken said. "And on defense, they put those big kids in the defensive line and they've made some big plays so far this season.
"And they have a couple of big, physical linebackers who move to the ball very well."
Newell-Fonda has shown the ability to make plays on defense as well. Last week, Graettinger-Terril controlled the ball in N-F territory much of the second half, but the Mustang defense made big plays to preserve the shutout.
Nevertheless, Wilken hopes his team controls the ball on offense and doesn't have to rely on it's defense as it did in the second half last week.
"We want to control the ball and line of scrimmage and win the time of possession," he said. "We just have to keep piling up first downs and and keep the ball from their talented skilled people."
He added that whichever team is able to establish its running game will have the edge.
"We want to stop their running game by forcing them into second and long and third and long situations," he said. "Offensively, we want to run right at them and control the ball. We have to be able to run the football."