AUDUBON vs. BEDFORD
Audubon was rolling along as perhaps the top eight-man football team in Iowa, if not certainly among the top 3.
Then a pandemic-forced layoff put a stop to the Wheelers’ run through Iowa eight-man district eight and halted two possible showdowns that could have seriously challenged them.
No matter. Those challenges will come in the playoffs, but first on the minds of everyone in Wheeler country is their first-round playoff game against Bedford.
The Wheelers will host Friday night’s game, and it’ll be a chance to get back onto the field for the first time in 21 days.
Like the Wheelers, the Bulldogs have also had a two-week layoff. However, the Bulldogs have yet to win a game; their best chance at victory would’ve been against Griswold Oct. 9, but that game got called off.
The Bulldogs have been outscored 222-48, or an average of 44-9 per game. Not that bad on paper, as one of those games – a 28-22 loss to Stanton-Essex – was competitive to the end.
Tristen Cummings and Dawson Stream have combined for 357 passing yards on 39-of-72 passing. Asher Weed has 136 receiving yards, Logan Bucher has a two of the team’s four touchdown receptions. Eli Morris (332 yards, two touchdowns) and Cummings (231 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown) are the primary rushing threats.
Carter DeMott has four quarterback sacks; Garrett Green has an interception and a fumble recovery among his team’s eight forced turnovers.
The Bulldogs have potential, but that may come in the future. The Wheelers have better statistics all the way and this could be another mismatch.
Quarterback Gavin Smith has 1,241 total yards, including 657 rushing, and has been in on 28 of his team’s 42 touchdowns. Six of his 13 passing touchdowns have gone to Ethan Klocke (10-261 yards), four others to Ethan’s twin brother Joel (7-159).
Carson Bauer and Joey Schramm each have at least three quarterback sacks. The Wheelers have forced 14 turnovers, Rylan Hansen with three fumble recoveries and Smith with four interceptions, including a pick-six.
It’s not been a typical season for a team that’s been accustomed to success.
Exira-EHK has had their moments and chances, but for one reason or another, victory has eluded the Spartans, including a golden opportunity against Boyer Valley in an eventual 56-34 loss last Friday night.
But now, the records are wiped clean and everyone is 0-0 going into the post-season.
So it is for coach Tom Petersen’s Spartans, the 0-6 team that will face 10th-ranked Fremont-Mills (3-1) Friday night in Tabor. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The Knights came off a three-week COVID-19 layoff last Friday night with a 25-16 loss to Central Valley, a team from the central Nebraska town of Greeley.
Fremont-Mills is heavy on the run game, with 1,004 of their 1,382 total yards coming on the ground. The Knights have two primary weapons, with quarterback Seth Malcom grinding out 456 yards on 49 carries, including five touchdowns and a long of 59 yards. Jake Malcom is the No. 2 threat, with 203 yards and six TDs with a long of 49 yards.
Seth Malcom has 355 yards passing through the air on 25-of-43 passing and six TDs. Taylor Reed is the big threat with 155 yards and three scores.
On defense, the Knights have forced 13 turnovers, including nine interceptions. Jake Malcom has four of those picks. The linemen have 23.5 tackels for losses, seven by Braxton Blackburn.
As of mid-season for Exira-EHK, brothers Trey and Tyler Petersen have combined for all but 17 of their team’s 965 passing yards. Tyler Kingery has 406 yards and four touchdowns, while Hunter Andresen has 206 yards and five touchdowns. On the ground, Trey Petersen has 197 yards and a 16-yard touchdown.
The Spartans have forced six turnovers, two picks by Kingery.
The season has been up and down for coach Cody Matthewson and his Chargers football team.
An example came in their last two regular-season games. After being on the brink of being too depleted due to quarantines against Panorama – just 20 of 43 players suited in a 26-0 loss – the Chargers had almost everyone back for the home finale, a 50-0 rout of neighbor West Central Valley.
The Chargers now hope to continue the momentum against Pleasantville, which has dropped its last two regular season games, both tight losses to Pella Christian (34-27) and Interstate 35 of Truro (22-7).
The Trojans are a rush-heavy team and have three backs at 400 or more yards. Isaac Mann leads the three-headed attack with 730 yards on 97 carries and five touchdowns, while Caylor Clark, the quarterback, has 506 yards and nine scores. Add to that Jake De Joode with 431 yards and seven touchdowns and you have the big share of a profitable ground attack that has gained just 21 yards short of 2,000 yards.
Through the air, the Trojans get the job done as well. Clark has 573 yards on 43-of-77 passing with five scores. Top target is Colby Sandholt with 202 yards on 15 catches and a 10-yard touchdown.
Three Trojans have two or more sacks: Matthew Kauffmann, Michael McGriff and Ross Stephens. Isaac Mann has five of his team’s 15 fumble recoveries; Sandholdt has two pick-sixes as part of his team’s nine interceptions.
Against West Central Valley last Friday, Gavin Cornelison had a great game with 18 rushes for 303 yards, a 16.8-per-carry average, and four touchdowns. He ends the regular season with 895 yards, second best among all News-Telegraph coverage area’s rushers.