Friday night focus
Week 5 presents a chance for Alta, Aurelia, Newell-Fonda, Laurens-Marathon and Galva-Holstein to improve to 3-0 in their respective districts.
Schaller-Crestland will seek its first district victory, while Storm Lake and Sioux Central are hunting down their first victories period.
A look at tomorrow's area football matchups:
* Storm Lake (0-4, 0-2 district) at MOC-Floyd Valley (0-4, 0-2 district)
Watch the linemen Friday.
Storm Lake's designs on winning its first game this year could hinge on how it handles the big uglies of MOC-FV.
"They're very big offensively and defensively, but they are not as fast as other teams' linemen," said Storm Lake coach Bill McCabe. "That could be an advantage to us because what's killed us is teams that had good speed with their linemen. Hopefully we can spread them out and make them chase us."
Then, watch Floyd Valley's fullback in this 3A District 1 battle of winless teams.
"About everything runs through him. He's a good, hard-nosed runner," said McCabe. "They run him a lot of traps, mid-line. If he doesn't run it, it usually goes through him as a fake.
"They're a run-dominated team. We have to be able to stop him first."
MOC-FV, which likes to run options and 'flood,' has played a different quarterback in its last two games and hasn't passed much, but McCabe figures the Dutchmen might try a few passes if they've watched any film of Storm Lake this year.
"Offensively we'll try to keep it balanced. We've struggled with our passing game, but Bobby Brown threw well last week, completing 15 of 22 passes for 264 yards against a pretty good Le Mars team," McCabe said. "If we can get things going like that, we'll look to pass more."
Even though most of Floyd Valley's offense goes through its fullback, Storm Lake's ends will have to play the quarterback and be responsible for their assignments, said the coach.
Doug Dimig (wrist) will miss this week. Senior Jeff Keen has been declared academically eligible and could see time at receiver and cornerback for a Tornado squad that only has about 25 healthy bodies.
* Alta (2-2, 2-0 district) at Schaller-Crestland (1-3, 0-2 district)
The Cyclones are a run-minded team as it is.
The fact that tailback Chris Schmitz is expected to be back from an injury, Schaller-Crestland gave up 444 rushing yards to Laurens-Marathon and Cody Nesbitt ran to the moon and back last week will only add fuel to their game plan in this Class A District 3 bout.
But the Cyclones will look to go to the air at times as well.
"We got Quentin Thomas back last week as one of our receivers," Alta coach Kevin Hammer said. "He gives us great speed. Alex Peterson had a nice game last week, as did Jack Mills. We're starting to give some of those kids more reps, and they're proving that they belong there.
"The pieces are coming together. The more reps we get with those guys, the better off we'll be."
He also mentioned his team's passing attack has improved with better offensive line play and Aaron Hansen's ability to find open receivers, which has opened things up for the Cyclones.
Hammer said S-C's one-back set and large line - on both sides of the ball - are things to contend with.
"We're talking about a line most small colleges would like to have," said Hammer. "We have to find a way to move them around a little bit. I'm not sure we can go one-on-one with everyone on their line - we've been working on some different double teams. We have to concentrate on not letting (Wildcats running back Justin) Ronk go off. Hopefully we'll get them in some situations where they're a little more predictable about having to throw the ball.
"This is a team that almost beat Newell-Fonda and maybe should have. They're capable of playing some good football."
S-C was a bit banged up when it faces L-M, but the Wildcats are healthier now.
"This week's just down to business. I really don't want to hear about their aches and pains," said S-C coach Mike Tiedeman.
Where do you start when breaking Alta down, asked Tiedeman.
"They have speed, power, size, strength, the ability to do whatever they want whenever they want on the field," he said. "They're probably the most athletic team in our district. Their horses up front are gonna leave some holes, and their backs are gonna find them."
The Wildcats will have to play fundamentally sound, assignment football.
"We have to wrap up and tackle," Tiedeman said. "We have to go out and hit harder and fill holes. We have to limit their big plays and cut down on our turnovers. It will be telling in the first five minutes. If guys start doing their own thing, and we're not reading the play very well, it could be a long night.
"Which team will show up? The one that played Newell-Fonda or the one from last week? It's going to be a test of character."
Tiedeman considers Alta's Brady Randall the best linebacker in the district not named Spencer Baak.
"All their linebackers - they're going to hit you," he said. "It's not just pull you to the ground, it's rock your world, and get up and do it again. Their speed and size gives coaches fits. They're pretty much the big gun in our district, so if the kids are gonna hang their heads, we have some young kids that can play. I'll take a kid with heart and effort over someone athletically superior with a bad attitude."
After last week's shellacking, Tiedeman asked himself what direction the coaching staff should go in.
"All we could do is get back to the fundamentals," he said. "It was a breakdown of a few small assignments, but we preached all year: one thing can lead to big plays. We just didn't do a lot of things right.
"Our offense is there, it's just a lack of execution. We're going to keep doing what we've been doing but hopefully cut back on our mistakes."
* Newell-Fonda (3-1, 2-0 district) at Laurens-Marathon (3-1, 2-0 district)
Believe it or not, Chargers coach Mike Ehn wasn't completely satisfied with his team's 64-18 victory over Schaller-Crestland last week.
"We're still working on things. We allowed three long scores," he said. "We're trying to improve on mistakes from last week and get all the players involved."
Now, his team plays its homecoming game against a solid Newell-Fonda club in what should be a telling matchup between Class A District 3 unbeatens.
Newell-Fonda faces a Chargers ground attack that rolled up over 444 yards against S-C, including 302 from Ryan Sernett, who averaged almost 30 yards a carry.
"We're going to have to attempt to stop or at least slow down their running game because it's obviously in high gear right now," said Mustangs coach Brian Wilken. "Scary thing is, it's not their only weapon. They have a lot of kids that are a threat to take it into the end zone. I think they had like 18 plays (last week) of 20 yards or more."
Wilken considers Keton Joynt and Sernett extremely dangerous in the backfield. "(Quarterback Zach) Lovin throws the ball exceptionally well and he's got a tall receiver in Travis Leuer who's got as good of hands as anyone," he added.
Newell-Fonda used a last-minute touchdown to get past Schaller-Crestland while the Chargers prevailed over S-C by 46 points.
Doesn't matter, says Ehn.
"You can't really compare scores. Newell and Schaller are a great rivalry; no matter what team is better on paper, that one's usually close," he said. "Newell-Fonda's going to line up and come right at you. They're going to pound it at you with (Spencer) Baak and (Josh) Hopper and throw in some passes (with Evan Franzmeier). We have to control the line of scrimmage."
For N-F, it comes down to being disciplined and assignment oriented, Wilken said.
"Defensively, they take all those great athletes and put them on the defensive side and let them run and make plays," he said of L-M. "They've shut Southeast Webster out and played awfully well defensively against Schaller-Crestland. You have to eliminate the big play against them. Offensively you can't turn it over."
Newell-Fonda is less healthy than it was a week ago, and is relying on more underclassmen than normal to fill spots, said Wilken.
"It all starts up front," he said. "We're trying to get healthy up there, which we haven't been all year. But the kids we have in there right now are getting better every day."
* Aurelia (3-1, 2-0 district) vs. Remsen St. Mary's (1-3, 1-1 district)
Aurelia beat Remsen-Union earlier this season, and Remsen-Union just knocked off Remsen St. Mary's, so the Bulldogs are assured of a homecoming victory over the Hawks Friday, right?
Not so fast, says Aurelia coach Myron Radke.
"It's been a great rivalry," he said. "We really come after each other. This will be no exception. This will be a shootout."
The key to this Eight-man District 3 matchup will be Aurelia's ability to generate consistency on offense - where Radke says the Bulldogs have been sporadic and relying too much on big plays - and their defensive job on St. Mary's four talented receivers.
"They're everywhere," Radke said.
Aurelia also will have to be prepared for the Hawks' pressure, as St. Mary's sends 5-6 guys at the quarterback hard every play.
"They're terribly quick," said Radke. "They just dare you to get anything done. We're going to have to pinch things down and try and close off their rush and slow them down."
St. Mary's has about every set imaginable in its playbook and can beat teams on the ground or via air assault.
"If something doesn't work for them, they can just shift to a different gear," he said. "Their quarterback, John Klein, is a good one. They lull you to sleep, and then there's the big one."
* Sioux Central (0-4, 0-2 district) vs. Battle Creek-Ida Grove (3-1, 1-1 district)
BC-IG will walk into Albert City and provide a tough Class 1A District 1 test for Rebels coach Jeff Tiefenthaler's team Friday.
"Their quarterback, Eric Hanson, is legit," said Tiefenthaler, whose youth-infused club is still searching for its first win. "He is very accurate and has two or three receivers that he can throw to. They are very big up front and like to run the ball to Chaps Wilcke, a 170-pound sophomore."
BC-IG, which got shut out last week, is anchored defensively by 6-foot-5, 282-pound Austin Wheeler.
"We will have a difficult time running against them so we will try and mix it up as best as we can," the coach said. "We are honestly just focusing on ourselves as we made a ton of mental mistakes against Akron last week. Keys for us will be to defend their receivers and put pressure on Hanson when he throws.
"We need to keep him in the pocket as he is very dangerous outside of it. Offensively we need to sustain our blocks and try and get a running game going."