N-F moves to No. 2 in Radio Iowa rankings
By this time of year, and with just 16 teams competing in state playoffs this week, most squads get the basics right.
Playing physical is something both teams usually show, as well as balance between the run and pass on offense. Most playoff teams are quick and athletic, even though they may average 220 or 230 up front.
Also, the majority of playoff teams have aggressive, attacking defenses.
Newell-Fonda's defensive coordinator, Nathan Baron, says his team and Wednesday's state playoff opponent, Bishop Garrigan of Algona, are similar in a number of ways.
"Both teams want to run-first but have shown an ability to throw the ball well when they have," Baron said. "Both teams are also physical on both sides of the ball."
Baron added that the Mustangs and Golden Bears play aggressively on defense. Most of all, he added, both teams play a physical brand of football.
"They have a great football tradition at Garrigan," Baron said. "They run a lot of the same things that we do, including a pro set. We'll run some traps, dives and sweeps and they do the same.
"As most football games go, this game will be won at the line of scrimmage, and the team that commits the fewest turnovers and blocks and tackles well will have the edge."
Last season, Bishop Garrigan finished runner-up in the 1A playoffs, but moved to Class A this season.
Baron added that the Golden Eagles' top back, Ben Bertie, is fast but also physical. Thus far this season, he's rushed for just over 750 yards. Garrigan fullback Chase Reding has run for about 500 yards.
Those two backs plus senior quarterback Brian Capesius return from last year's Class 1A runner-up team.
Capesius can hurt teams with his running and passing. He's completed 26 of 63 passes for 469 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's also run for 275 yards.
Newell-Fonda, second-ranked in the Oct. 23 Radio Iowa prep ratings, has scored 284 points this season and given up just 41, outscoring their opponents by an average of 35-5.
Garrigan has outscored its opponents 177-53, or an average of 22-7 per game.
Baron says whichever team establishes its ground game will have the edge. That's always been the Mustangs' goal, no matter the importance of the game, head coach Brian Wilken has often said.
Thus far this season, Newell-Fonda has run the ball 350 times for 2,181 yards, an average of 270 rushing yards per game and 6.2 yards per run.
Senior David Hopper and junior Spencer Baak have paced N-F runners. Hopper has run 157 times for 960 yards, an average of 120 rushing yards per game and 6 yards per attempt. Baak has run for 650 yards.
Quarterback Evan Franzmeier has put the ball up 78 times and completed 47 for 827 yards.
"Their quarterback can do a lot of things for them," Baron said. "He has an outstanding arm and can throw deep, around 45-50 yards. He also has good mobility in and out of the pocket.
"Our offensive line has to be physical and sustain blocks to allow David and Spencer some holes to run through," Baron said. "On defense, we want to keep them in second and long or third and long situations."