An ADM team that has recovered well from losing its primary playmakers from a year ago hosts Creston/O-M in a key Class 3A District 1 game Friday night in Adel.
The Tigers (2-1) are coming off a 48-38 victory over Glenwood in last week’s district opener. Grant Goeden has stepped in well for last year’s star running back, Jordan Grove, as he capped a 219-yard rushing effort with two fourth-quarter touchdowns in leading the Tigers’ rally past the Rams.
The Tigers trailed 38-33 in the fourth period before Goeden scored on runs of 14 and 3 yards.
“He (Goeden) was mostly at wide receiver against Dallas Center-Grimes, but against Winterset he was at running back,” said Creston/O-M coach Brian Morrison.
Gone from last year’s 6-4 squad are quarterback Kyle Herrick, who passed for 1,927 yards and 14 TDs, and Grove, who rushed for 1,867 yards and 17 TDs. Grove and tackle Noah Taylor have joined former Creston/O-M Panthers Collin Bevins and Keaton Hulett at Northwest Missouri State University.
Last year, the Tigers forced four turnovers in handing the Panthers their first loss, 34-19, in Creston.
“They did a really nice job last year against us,” Morrison said. “What hurt us was, we had back to back turnovers in the third quarter when we were going to drive down to tie it.”
ADM lost its playoff opener to Spencer, 48-19.
Goeden, who was used primarily as a receiver last year, averaged 12.9 yards per carry against Glenwood, with his first TD covering 79 yards. He caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Kolby Whisner in the second quarter, and finished with six receptions for 68 yards.
Whisner, son of head coach Mike Whisner and the backup to Herrick last year, was 17-of-23 passing for 257 yards and four touchdowns last week. Two of the touchdowns went to returning all-district receiver Tate Jensen, who finished with seven catches for 91 yards. Joe Sloss caught a 75-yard touchdown pass.
“Glenwood is a really good football team this year,” Morrison said. “But they were in a 3-3 stack with a lot of pressure and man coverage, and ADM got some big plays on both runs and passes. Winterset ran a four-man front and cover four and cover two, a similar defense to ours, and held them to 14 points.”
There are some key returning players returning on defense for the Tigers. Jensen and Zach Ostendorf each finished with 10 tackles and recovered fumbles against the Rams. But the top two tacklers from a year ago — Dylan Nelson ad Sam Plagman — graduated. Also gone is Blake Heimann from the secondary, who had four interceptions last year.
“Coach Whisner is a defensive coach,” Morrison said. “They run a four-man front similar to ours, cover four and cover two behind them. They’ll load the box, stunt and blitz, do some things that present some challenges for us.”
ADM opened the season with a 34-21 loss to nearby rival Dallas Center-Grimes before defeating Winterset in a defensive battle, 14-6.
For the season, Whisner has completed 51 of 90 passes (56.7 percent) for 778 yards and six touchdowns, with five interceptions in three games. Goeden has carried 51 times for 407 yards and six TDs. Jensen is the leading receiver at 20 catches for 286 yards and two TDs.
Creston/O-M quarterback Brandon Phipps is 28-of-49 (57.1 percent) for 423 yards and six touchdowns, with only one interception. Adam Baker has carried 56 times for 354 yards and two TDs, with Trevor Frain adding 126 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Leading receivers are Bryce Briley with four catches for 110 yards and Gavin Leith with three receptions for 104 yards. Both have two touchdowns.
Eight different receivers have caught at least two passes this season for the Panthers. But, not among them is junior Alex Nielsen, with one catch for 13 yards.
Nielsen had a monster JV game offensively on Monday, running for 212 yards and five touchdowns, while also passing 10-of-15 for 141 yards and an 11-yard TD.
Morrison, however, said Nielsen’s real value to the varsity right now is at the back end of the rebuilt Panther secondary. Nielsen has three interceptions already, including two last week against Atlantic.
“He’s still practicing at receiver, and he’s our No. 2 quarterback,” Morrison said. “But we need him to focus on being a really good free safety for us. Our secondary is green, so we need to get good. And for that to happen, he needs to be a one-way player for us right now. We have some nice Y’s (tight ends) in Gavin Leith and Levi Eblen.”
Coming out of last week’s 28-14 victory over Atlantic, Morrison said there were plenty of positive elements amidst the frustration about penalties and turnovers.
“We outgained them something like 375 to 140. We played good football,” Morrison said. “We just can’t afford to have nine penalties for 60-some yards, or have three fumbles, against good teams and win. We’re playing good, now we have to play smart. This is a big game for both teams in trying to get to 2-0 in the district.”
The undefeated Creston/O-M freshmen open the night with a 4:45 p.m. game against ADM.