This week, area football teams will find themselves on the football battlefront, in key district games that will have big implications as far as district seeding will play out.
In Eight-Man District 8, Southwest Valley and Lenox, both of which sit at 4-1 overall and 3-1 in district play with losses to Sidney, square off in Lenox’s homecoming game.
In District 6, Murray (4-1, 3-0), travels to Adair-Casey to take on Clayton Plowman and the 5-0, 4-0 Associated Press fifth-ranked Bombers. Meanwhile, East Union, trying to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, hosts Ankeny Christian Academy.
In Class 1A, Des Moines Register second-ranked Mount Ayr hosts Des Moines Christian in the Raiders’ homecoming game. Nodaway Valley travels to West Central Valley to play on the Wildcats’ new field-turf stadium.
SWV vs. Lenox
“This is another big game in the district,” Lenox head coach Allen Dukes said. “We’re both 3-1 (district). Neither of us wants to drop that second game, because district seeding is very important. You want to be in the top part of the district, so you can at least get a game at home.”
Currently, the Tigers and the Timberwolves sit in a third-place tie in District 8, with Southwest Valley holding the point differential tiebreaker. Fremont-Mills and Sidney are one and two in the district.
Both teams will try to establish the run Friday night, meaning offensive line play will be critical to either team’s success.
“In an old-school matchup like this when both teams want to run the ball and keep the offense on the field as long as they can, it’s the matchups on the offensive line,” Southwest Valley head coach Kent Bass said. “Is the defense going to get into the backfield or will the offensive line get some push? It’s going to be some fun matchups. It’s just a matter of going out and executing.”
Lenox comes into the contest averaging 245 rushing yards per game, while the Timberwolves 344 yards per game on the ground.
“They want to establish the run with (Zach) Barton and (Gunnar) McCuen and (Jordan) Stuart,” Dukes said. “Those three guys really have their offense running well. Barton is a load. You have to hit him low, or if you don’t, he’s going to carry you.”
Bass said he believes a key to the game will be which team is able to show more balance on offense and keep the other team’s defense off balance.
Murray vs. A-C
Over the past few years, Murray vs. Adair-Casey has been a big game, with big implications. It’s no different this year.
“The winner of this game will definitely have the upper hand as far as probably being the No. 1 seed in the district,” Murray head coach Keith Shields said. “It’s been that way the past couple of years. Two years ago, we went to Adair and they got us, then we got them at our place last year. We’re looking forward to having another good game with them on Friday night.”
Clayton Plowman, now the all-time leading rusher in Iowa Eight-Man history, is the focal point of the Bomber offense. But, they have other playmakers, too.
Emmitt Wheatley and Charlie Terry are also capable of causing fits for defenses.
“One of the things, just from what we’ve seen, is they probably are a little more diversified than they have been,” Shields said. “They have a little more speed with Wheatley, and Charlie Terry is an underrated guy. He’ll catch the ball, but also is an excellent blocker. The versatility they have, being able to move guys around is something we’ll have to concentrate on.”
But the two major areas Shields said his team will need to concentrate on will be matching Adair-Casey’s physicality and swarming to the ball on defense.
“That was definitely their trademark, was their physical play,” Shields said. “You’ve got to strap it on and be ready to play physical. Trying to match their physicality and you can’t let (Plowman) get outside. You’ve got to get some contact in the backfield and have good flow with lots of guys pursuing and making tackles.”
East Union enters its home game against Ankeny Christian Academy with a record of 1-4 overall and 0-2 in district play. Ankeny Christian is 0-4 and 0-3.
Lamoni currently holds the fourth spot in the district standings with a 1-1 district record. A win Friday against Ankeny Christian would go a long way in helping to keep East Union’s playoff hopes alive.
Nodaway Valley faces a tough task, traveling to West Central Valley.
The Wolverines prepared for playing on West Central Valley’s new field-turf stadium by traveling to Earlham before the season began for a scrimmage.
But, the Wolverines will also have to deal with Wildcat playmaker Clayton Scott, who is a terror on both sides of the ball with six receiving touchdowns and five interceptions in four games.
The second-ranked Mount Ayr Raiders will play host to a Des Moines Christian team fresh off a win against Pella Christian.
Co-head coach Delwyn Showalter expects to see a solid dose of power football from the Lions, as well as a stout defensive front.
“Traditionally, their linebackers have been the strength of their team,” Showalter said. “They’ve got a defensive lineman who makes our biggest guy look small. They’ve got a lineman who’s 6-4, 400 pounds.”
Peprah Danquah, a linebacker for Des Moines Christian, leads the state with 12 solo tackles for loss. He also ranks third with six solo sacks.