GREENFIELD — Friday’s game between Mount Ayr and Nodaway Valley is more than just a game.
It will be a battle. The Battle for the Rock II, to be exact.
The game will also be the Coach Daut Kickoff Classic, honoring the late Bob Daut. The 1992 Greenfield football team will be honored at the game as part of the ceremonies.
“We started it a year ago to honor the tremendous legacy of coach Bob Daut and coach Dave Still — two people that have meant an awful lot to the game of high school football, not only in their communities, but in the state,” Mount Ayr co-head coach Delwyn Showalter said. “We thought it was a great way to honor those two men and also to honor the tradition of Mount Ayr and Greenfield/Nodaway Valley.”
“We’ve always really battled with Mount Ayr,” Nodaway Valley head coach Steve Shantz said. “We’ve had some great games in the past. It brings a special meaning, not only the teams playing now, but other coaches and programs and a tribute to a couple of great coaches.”
Mount Ayr won the inaugural Battle for the Rock last year, scoring a 48-24 victory over the Wolverines.
The game will be the season opener for both teams. Mount Ayr enters the contest ranked No. 2 in the Des Moines Register’s preseason Class 1A rankings.
“First ballgame, you never quite know what to expect,” Showalter said. “They’re a team that’s run the ball effectively. In the past, they’ve done a good job with their sweep game and also been effective with their inside trap, quick hitter to the fullback. Those are things we know based on past experiences that have given us trouble.”
Showalter said after exchanging film of each team’s scrimmage, he came away impressed by Nodaway Valley’s passing game in its scrimmage against Earlham. Nodaway Valley’s ability to pass to the running backs out of the backfield is another threat for Showalter’s defense to keep in mind.
“They’re the No. 2 team in the state for a reason,” Shantz said about Mount Ayr. “They get a lot of kids back. They have great athletes all over the field. They have a lot of speed, but with that, they have size. That’s the scary thing about playing them. They’re well coached, very disciplined.
“They’re going to be very physical, also,” Shantz said. “There’s a lot of things we’ll have to prepare for to match their physicality and speed, which will be tough because we can’t get anywhere near that in practice. We might be able to get some mismatch problems and hopefully we can get some of our guys in space, also.”
Shantz said the key to his team being successful in the game against Mount Ayr will be line play.
Nodaway Valley will have to establish the run in order to protect sophomore quarterback Jackson Lamb.
And, with freshman Josh Allsup starting at tailback for the Wolverines, the offensive line’s ability to open up running lanes will be critical.
“They’re going to be bigger than we are across the board,” Shantz said. “We have to establish the run to make things work. We’re going to have a freshman tailback and sophomore quarterback. We’re going to have to have some good run blocking in order for us to have a shot at this thing.”
Line play will be important on the other side of the ball, as well.
Mount Ayr’s offensive line will look to open up running lanes for returning first team all-state quarterback Jacob Sobotka and a host of Raider running backs.
Sobotka led Class 1A in total yardage last year, accumulating 3,075 yards and 41 total touchdowns. He averaged 139 passing yards and 117 rushing yards per game during his junior campaign.
In other action on Friday, East Union travels to Moravia hoping to bounce back after a 50-2 Zero Week loss to Lenox.
Moravia dropped an 82-14 contest at Lamoni in Zero Week, racking up just 186 yards of total offense.
Murray also looks to bounce back from a Zero Week loss, as the Mustangs host Mormon Trail, a team that has been stricken by injuries to an already thin roster.
The Saints defeated Seymour 48-6 in Zero Week action, gaining 403 yards of total offense, with 369 of those yards coming on the ground.
Lenox plays host to Essex/South Page. The Tigers rushed for 344 yards in the Zero Week win over East Union.
And 1-0 Southwest Valley plays its first game in front of the home crowd when the Timberwolves host 1-0 Stanton.
The Vikings picked up a 48-28 win at Nishnabotna in Zero Week, despite finishing with just 242 yards of total offense. Stanton had a 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown in the win over Nishnabotna.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, racked up 515 yards rushing in a 62-28 win over Tri-County, Thornburg in Zero Week.