A matchup of ranked Class 3A teams takes place at Lions Field tonight as 3rd-ranked Clear Lake hosts 10th-ranked Humboldt. The Wildcats and Lions shared the District 3 title last year, with Humboldt knocking off Clear Lake 26-10, ending the Lions’ 34-game winning streak in district play. Lions coach Fred Wieck says one of the key tonight will be stopping junior running back Brady Ross, who has rolled up almost 550 yards on the ground through four games.
“He is a horse, and if we don’t stop him running the football — that’s the whole key to their offense to me — because if he runs it then the quarterback now play-action passes. So, we have to stop the run game, which should help stop the play-action pass,” Wieck says.
Clear Lake turned the ball over six times in their loss to Humboldt last year, something Wieck says can’t happen this year. He says the stats says when you lose the turnover battle — no matter what level of football you are playing — you generally lose the game.
Humboldt is also off to a 4-0 start on the season. Wildcats coach Greg Thomas says it’s been a great rivalry between the two schools in the last decade, highlighted by the 2006 season where the teams met twice with Humboldt beating Clear Lake in the 3A championship game. “It starts with a mutual respect both coaches staffs have with each other. It’s fun to have a north-central Iowa rivalry, with district football you don’t always have that,” Thomas says.
Thomas says his team knows it will be a tough test facing the Lions in Clear Lake tonight as he says they’ve been one of the most consistent winners in 3A the last 15 to 17 years.
Rated teams collide in class 2A district seven as fifth ranked West Marshall hosts number nine North Polk.
North Polk coach Evan Groepper says you have to win this game to win the district title and the Comet defense must limit big plays by the West Marshall offense. West Marshall coach Ken Winkler also says the outcome will go a long way toward determining the district champ as he says most of the years they’ve played that’s the way it has turned out and it also impacts where you go in the playoffs.
Don Bosco will face their toughest test today when the second ranked Dons host #9 Easton Valley in eight-player action. Easton Valley is a newly combined program that brought together players from Preston and East Central. The Dons played Preston last season and Bosco coach Colby Yoder says that the combined squad has opened up their playbook to be a little more versatile.
Easton Valley features one of the top running backs in the eight player division in Andrew Driscoll. He’s rushed for more than five hundred yards already this season and is averaging more than ten yards per carry. Yoder says his defense will try to keep Driscoll fenced in. “We saw him last year and he is a very talented runningback and a key to their offense,” Driscoll says. He says he doesn’t know if they can shut him down, but will try to neutralize him.
Yoder says he thinks this game has the potential to be very high-scoring as they had a 58-41 game last year.
A pair of unbeatens collide in eight man district seven as top ranked Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton visits fifth ranked Glidden-Ralston.
Exira/EHK beat the Wildcats twice a year ago, including a 39-36 victory in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. Spartans coach Tom Peterson who says the game will feature contrasting styles as Glidden-Ralston is strong and physical and will try to pound the ball at you. He says his team will try to do more to utilize their speed.
Glidden-Ralston coach Kreg Lensch says it is a good time for a test like this as they will know where they stand heading into the final push to the playoffs after this game. Lensch says his team must tackle well to have a chance as he says they try to get their quarterback out in space and make you tackle well to stop him.
Third ranked Newell-Fonda will try to stay unbeaten with a game at home against Laurens-Marathon in eight-man district two. Newell-Fonda is averaging 54 points per game in a 4-0 start. Newell-Fonda coach Brian Wilken says they are getting better but says there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We want to be able to be a great defensive football team, and we want to be able to run the footbal and run it with a great deal of success,” Lensch says.
Laurens-Marathon is off to a 2-2 start and coach Mike Ehn who says his defense faces a tough challenge of slowing down the Newell-Fonda offense as they run it straight at them.
Ryan Thompson KAYL Storm Lake; Bob Fisher KRIB Mason City; Elwin Huffman KOEL Oelwein; Jesse Gavin KCNZ Cedar Falls all contributed to this story.