ALTA - Although the saying, "it's not who you play, it's when you play them," is most often used in baseball, it could be an apt phrase for the Alta football team's opponent Friday night - Rockwell City-Lytton.
The Wildcats enter the district home game riding a three-game district winning streak. RC-L opened with four losses to good teams - 21-0 to SMCT-Sheffield, 21-14 to Belmond-Klemme, 30-8 to Odebolt Arthur and 49 to 0 to fourth-ranked Newell-Fonda.
Since then, they've beaten Southeast Webster 20-6, Schaller-Crestland 28-14 and Clay Central Everly 24-22 at Everly last week.
Those are three of the reasons Cyclone football coach Kevin Hammer is wary of Friday night's district confrontation in Rockwell City.
"We've got to rebound from a tough (13-0 in Alta) loss to Newell-Fonda," Hammer said. "But our kids were able to do that after West Hancock beat us early in the season."
Rockwell City-Lytton, 3-2 in district play and 3-4 overall, is the underdog but has some momentum going in.
"They aren't a team that's just going to show up," Hammer said Tuesday. "One thing our guys aren't doing is taking (RC-L) for granted."
Alta enters the game 4 -1 in district play and 5-2 overall. Newell-Fonda is 5-0 while Odebolt-Arthur is 4-1 and 5-2. If Alta beats RC-L Friday and Southeast Webster the following week at home, they'll clinch a state playoff berth.
Meanwhile, moving the ball this week might be a little easier for Alta, but the Cyclones moved the ball on Newell-Fonda but couldn't finish off drives.
"We have to convert when we get in the red zone,"' Hammer said. "Last week, I didn't think we did a good job of sustaining our blocks."
The Alta coach added that RC-L relies heavily on fullback David Sexton.
"They try to power the ball at you, but they'll mix things with the pass to keep the defense honest," Hammer said.
Last week, Alta's senior quarterback Tyler Boyd suffered a bruise to his shin, but should be ready to start Friday night. Hammer said, however, that the game will be won or lost at the line of scrimmage.
"We want to control the ball and keep their offense off the field," he said.