EARLY - Two old rivals will renew acquaintances on Friday night when Alta travels to Early to take on Schaller-Crestland.
The two teams enter the game on opposite emotional states. Alta is coming off a 27-0 victory over Sac City, while Schaller-Crestland lost to North Iowa 16-14 on the final play of the game.
"We were mad at ourselves after the Sac game (7-6 loss two weeks ago) and heartbroken after the North Iowa game, but because it's a rivalry, I think our kids will bounce back," Schaller-Crestland coach Dale Tokheim said.
Both teams will want to establish their running games, but Tokheim's defense can't just focus on stopping Alta's run game.
"They run a lot more sets than what we originally thought they would," Tokheim said. "We thought they were going to be just a double wing offense, but they pass the ball more than what they did last year. Our defense has to prepare for a lot more things. It takes longer to prepare for people who run out of multiple sets. Everyone will have to know their assignments. We want to stop their run and make them pass. I still don't think that's their strongest suit. We hope to make them one-dimensional."
"We've got to establish the run for us to be successful," Alta coach Kevin Hammer said. "We like to run off-tackle like they do. We're very successful if we don't have any miscues on offense. If we cut down on our mistakes, we feel very confident about running the football."
"They don't have a lot of size, but they are quick up front," Hammer added. "They've had success in shutting down the other team's running games. Their linebackers get good reads and they're very aggressive. They're not afraid to put eight or nine guys in the box and make you throw the football to beat them."
Tokheim looks for the Cyclones to key on his running back, Kelly Rydberg.
"I think they'll have eight to nine guys in the box and they'll try to stop Rydberg," he said. "It wouldn't surprise me if they didn't run a different defense."
"You've got to pay a little closer attention to Rydberg, but you can't forget about the other backs they have. It's important our linemen control the line of scrimmage and our linebackers do a good job of containing Rydberg."
Because of Alta's advantage in size, Tokheim said the Wildcats' offensive attack will be altered a little bit.
"I think they're a little bit bigger than we are, so we're going to have to use more deception on offense and pass the ball a little bit more efficiently."
Tokheim and Hammer addressed the important factors that will determine the outcome.
"We need to capitalize on Alta's mistakes and then try to reduce our turnovers as much as possible," Tokheim said.
"It starts with the offensive and defensive lines with both teams," Hammer said. "Whoever has control of the line of scrimmage will have the upper hand. The team that's fired up and ready to play from the beginning and sustain it throughout the game. Special teams will be a big factor."