Friday night is just week one of the football season for most Iowa prep teams, but there are already a number of key district matchups throughout the state.
That goes for the BV County area as well. Tomorrow night, Schaller-Crestland faces off against Newell-Fonda in a Class A, District one game.
With the district loaded with top teams, including defending Class A champion West Bend Mallard and Armstrong-Ringsted, any loss will be costly.
Newell-Fonda coach Brian Wilken doesn't think his team can afford one. Neither does Schaller-Crestland coach Dale Tokheim.
"It's a huge game for us," Wilken said. "We have to play well right off the bat. And Schaller-Crestland is a very tough opponent to start with."
Tokheim says the same about Newell-Fonda, which returns eight starters.
"They probably have more experienced kids back than we do," Tokheim said. "We have a lot of kids who are starting on varsity for the first time.
"But there is some potential there for us. For the first time in a few years, we've got some good size in the interior lines," he added.
That size is what worries Wilken the most.
"Our bread and butter is the running game," the coach said. "Our kids up front are going to have to find a way to move their big guys on defense. If we aren't able to do that, it could be a long night."
Both teams hope to establish the run.
"We want to run the ball well and pass when we want to and not because we have to," Tokheim said.
Up front, the Wildcats are led by tackles John Grundmeier (6-foot-1, 282) , Michael Weber (6-2, 282), guards Michael Hatch (6 feet, 195) and Lucas Severson (5-9, 205) and center Marcus Barlow (6 feet, 181).
Grundmeier is the only returning starter in the bunch. S-C's only other returning starter is fullback/linebacker Brian Bode.
Wilken's team might have an experience edge, but he says both teams usually play each other tough.
"Schaller-Crestland is always well-coached and their kids are very hard-nosed," Wilken said. "One thing we know is that they will go straight at us up front, and their runners will hit the holes hard and go north and south."
Newell-Fonda returns a number of players up front, including Jon Ohrtman, Kevin Wells, Peter Olsen and Austin Vanderhoff. They also return tight end Matt Sievers, fullback Brent Sexton and tailbacks Chad Buchholz and David Hopper.
The Mustangs did lose quarterback Tim Seagren and leading rusher Jared Neppl.
"There are a couple of keys for us," Wilken added. "We have to establish the run, eliminate mistakes and turnovers, and put points on the board when we have a chance."
Tokheim talked about his team's keys; "Defensively, we can't let them control the ball and clock.
"We want to slow them down and hopefully cause a couple of turnovers. We both have good size up front, and that's where the most important battle will be."