Tomorrow looks like Storm Lake's best shot at its second win this year in what shapes up on paper as a competitive game between 1-5 squads.
Football fans trekking to Newell tomorrow night should be in for quite a treat as well.
A look at some of the area's Week 7 matchups:
* Storm Lake (1-5, 1-3 district) vs. Spirit Lake (1-5, 1-3 district)
The Tornadoes face a team fresh off its first win, a 16-13 overtime squeaker over MOC-Floyd Valley, against whom Storm Lake also recorded its lone conquest.
The Indians have been outscored 92-16 in the second half this year, and Storm Lake coach Bill McCabe thinks the outcome will be decided by the start.
"We have to come out and establish something," he said. "We're both 1-5. If bad things happen, sometimes you have a tendency - it's like, 'Oh no, not again.' We have to stay close or get the lead right away. It kind of builds up and we build on that momentum."
Using a spread offense similar to Texas Tech's, the Indians run the "Pistol" with their running back about four yards behind their quarterback in the shotgun. They throw the ball over 60 percent of the time with their QB tending to tuck the ball in and run about as much as their running back does.
The Indians are led by senior QB Dillon Miner, junior running back Nick Johnson and a large number of receivers. The top receiving threats are senior Boomer Dreeszen and juniors T.J. Johnson and Derrick Miner.
Dreeszen is also their best kicker, as he nailed the game-winning field goal for the Indians last Friday. Dillon Miner was 13-of-24 for 124 yards with a TD and interception last week. He also ran for 22 yards on nine carries.
Spirit Lake's offense put up 232 yards last week, but allowed 311 to MOC-FV.
The defense is a bit undersized, but is led by a hard-hitting group of linebackers in senior Tory Kaminska and Nolan Meyer. A secondary led by Brad Engel, Ethan Carlson and Derek Halquist is another strength.
As dismal as their second-half performances have been, the Indians have either led or been tied in three of their six games at halftime this season. They led Sergeant Bluff-Luton 3-0 and Sibley-Ocheyedan 7-3 at halftime this year and only trailed Denison-Schleswig 3-0.
"They play very hard and very aggressive," McCabe said. "This is their second year of running that offense. Defensively they'll fly to the ball, blitz, take chances. Hopefully we can get them to bite and then be able to go deep."
He looks for the Indians to go with a 4-2 defense.
McCabe said his team's improved performance over the last two weeks has allowed them to be more critical with some of the little things in football.
"We have to do the little things right to get a victory," he said. "They're going to come in fired up thinking they can beat us."
* Alta (4-2, 4-0 district) at Newell-Fonda (5-1, 4-0 district)
There's a different air about this game. In the halls, in the locker rooms, on the practice field.
It's the much-anticipated matchup between teams expected by many - before the season even started - to be undefeated in the loop when they clashed in this Week 7 Class A District 3 rivalry battle.
It's not just any ordinary game.
Right? Depends whom you ask.
"We try to preach here the most important game we've got is our next one," Mustangs coach Brian Wilken said. "This game's no bigger than Week 3 or Week 4. Not everybody goes to the postseason. You have to earn it.
"There's a lot of talk about implications, but it's no bigger than the other ones."
That could be one of the reasons N-F has won 14 district games in a row dating back to October 2005 and is on a five-game winning streak. Wilken said he hasn't been paying attention to the district streak.
Cyclones coach Kevin Hammer, meanwhile, said both teams probably had this date circled on their calendars since last year. The Mustangs went into Alta and won 13-0 last season en route to a district title.
"Both teams understand this is a game that puts teams in the driver's seat for a district title," he said. "A lot of things have to go right for you to be undefeated. We don't look that far ahead, but wanting to be (in this position) is what we wanted. We don't need a big pep talk or rah, rah speech.
"Both teams should be ready."
Alta's only losses have come at the hands of Class A state-ranked teams Bishop Garrigan of Algona and West Hancock of Britt. The 'Clones have rolled to four straight W's with relative ease.
Hammer attributes that to physical, assignment-oriented defense - "no one's out there trying to be a hero" - and the fact that they're at their healthiest point of the year.
Plus, he said, "Our offensive line is staying on their blocks, our backs are running well and Aaron (Hansen is) throwing well."
Said Wilken, "We have the utmost respect for them. They're a good, well-coached team. The kids play hard, and they play the right way. They block, they tackle.
"It's going to come down to blocking and tackling. Whatever team does that the best is going to put themselves in position to win, and secondly, the team that makes the fewest mistakes in terms of ball security and penalties.
"It's going to be a 48-minute war. We're both excited."
Wilken said Alta's O-line blocks to the whistle, and that's one of the big reasons for their success.
"Defensively, one glaring thing is their speed. They can all run," he said. "They're going to be physical but they can all run and they can all tackle."
This is a typical N-F squad, Hammer said.
"No smoke and mirrors. Here they come, you better be ready to stop them," he said. "Spencer Baak is probably the best fullback we've seen this year, (Josh) Hopper runs hard and (Evan) Franzmeier throws the ball well. They're big like typical Newell-Fonda teams. We hope our speed will offset their size because we don't match up real well with their size.
"It's a big, athletic line. It presents some problems, but hopefully we stay on our blocks."
The Mustangs are also big up front on the other side of the ball.
"Their linebackers read well. They just don't give up a lot of yardage," Hammer said. "We just have to get in some situations where we can move the ball. Not many teams throw the ball in our district, but that's an area where we might need to go. And we haven't had to do that the past couple weeks."
While Alta's pretty much at full strength, Wilken pointed out his team has used a different starting lineup each week due to injuries. Still, he expects fullback/linebacker Baak (hamstring) to be a factor Friday. Baak has been used sparingly in recent action.
Hammer said that since both squads are ball-control teams, a key turnover or special teams play could decide the fate.
He doesn't expect the road to be too big a factor.
"Maybe the first 3-4 minutes of the game," he said, "but we're both going to have big crowds."
* Aurelia (5-1, 4-0 district) vs. Ruthven-Ayrshire (0-6, 0-3 district)
The winless Raiders are losing by an average of about 50 points. They lost to District 3 heavyweight Harris-Lake Park by 64.
And frankly, the overconfidence factor scares Bulldogs coach Myron Radke, whose team has already secured an 8-player playoff berth for the second straight season.
"They're going to be hungry. They're going to want to win," said Radke. "For some reason they've played us tough in the past."
Aurelia has won five games in a row. Can the Bulldogs suffer a letdown against a team that's been getting rolled week in and week out?
Radke says it's possible. "We haven't had the chance to take a breath for six weeks. We have to keep the guys from coming out flat. They have to earn it," he said. "That could be the toughest part of the deal - Ruthven has everything to win."
R-A will run an I-formation with twins Friday, Radke said. They'll also go to a shotgun with a running back on each side of the quarterback.
"Their quarterback throws a nice ball," he said. "We have to pressure him."
Aurelia will have to be ready for anything on the other side of the ball, as the Raiders have shown several different packages.
"Their backfield and secondary have decent speed," Radke said. "I don't know if you can slow them down."
Aurelia's Alec Ohlson, a fullback and linebacker, is out for the year with a foot injury he suffered two weeks ago.
"He's got a plate and five screws," Radke said. "He showed me the X-Ray, and I said, 'Who did this? Dr. Wilkerson or Tim Ireland, our shop man?'
"Kody Pinkerton has done a nice job as his replacement."
* Schaller-Crestland (2-4, 1-3 district) at Southeast Webster (0-6, 0-4 district)
Wildcats coach Mike Tiedeman says SEW is better than its record indicates.
The Eagles are an unconventional team.
"A fourth of the time," said Tiedeman, "their quarterback literally won't even touch the ball. He'll line up behind one of their guards as a blocker. Sometimes the fullback will get (the snap) and the quarterback will roll out for a pass."
Other times, the fullback takes the snap out of the gun and throws a jump pass to the tight end.
"Their running backs do a lot of spin moves and misdirection," he added. "There's a lot of stuff going on in the backfield. That's worrisome."
Schaller-Crestland will need to play assignment football defensively, and just execute on the other side, the coach said.
"The only thing that's stopped us on offense is ourselves," he said. "Not blocking, dropped balls. We're still waiting for our offense to explode. I think we might be able to get into their secondary. Saying I'm not worried would be a lie.
"It's how our kids react to the situation (Friday)."
* Sioux Central (0-6, 0-4 district) at H-M-S (1-5, 0-4 district)
Watch the line Friday - on both sides of the ball.
The Hawks average 250 pounds across the front and like to throw to their 6-foot-6, 265-pound end.
"They cause all kinds of matchup problems for us," said Sioux Central coach Jeff Tiefenthaler. "We have had a difficult time controlling the opponents' running game and our opponents know it so they just keep bringing it.
"I don't blame them."
Keys for the Rebels will be to try to cause turnovers and establish some first downs.
"We just don't have a lot of big kids and our opponents just seem to have a ton of them," said Tiefenthaler. "It has been frustrating to say the least but it's football and we just have to keep plugging."
- Dickinson County News sports editor Ryan Christoffel contributed to this week's report.