Three area teams have clinched playoff spots and will be in the field of 32 in their respective classes.
At least two other area teams, maybe a third, are riding on the outcome of Friday's games to either improve or solidify their hopes for playing a Week 9 game.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association will determine its 32-team playoff fields for eight-man, and the smaller three 11-man classes – A, 1A and 2A, and eight man – early the morning of Saturday, Oct. 16. Those teams not making the cut will still have the option of a ninth game, to be played Oct. 23.
That said, Audubon and CAM in eight-man, and ACGC in Class 1A are assured of a playoff game, with each team having at least one home game and possibly two. Of AHSTW, Riverside and Exira-EHK, it's the Bulldogs that have the best hopes, but each of those team's hopes and where they factor into the post-season should they make it rides on their final two weeks of games.
Griswold, meanwhile, appears to be ready to take the field again after a week off due to illness and injury, factors they've been struggling with in recent weeks.
As for this Friday's games:
* Panorama at ACGC: A historic season is being written for the Chargers, and they could wrap up homefield advantage for at least two games with a win over the Panthers, a team that coach Cody Matthewson's squad has never beaten. Gavin Cornelison is the area's top 11-man rusher with 1,113 yards and 17 touchdowns, crossing the mark in last week's 35-6 win over Interstate 35; he had two touchdowns and 240 yards on the ground. The Charger defense held the Roadrunners without a completed pass in seven attempts and 105 total yards, while the offense rolled up 488 on the ground.
Panorama hasn't won since a Week 1 victory, 26-21, to Colfax-Mingo, and fell 23-0 to West Central Valley last week. The Panthers have scored just seven touchdowns on the year. Ryan Cogil has 568 rushing yards and four scores, while Cayden VanMeer had 335 passing yards but has yet to score a touchdown through the air.
* Logan-Magnolia at AHSTW: After a 1-3 start to the year, the Vikings have picked up two straight wins, last week a 44-6 win over Sidney. Kyle Sternberg had 218 yards passing and three touchdowns, all to Raydden Grobe; while Denver Pauley ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
It's homecoming week and a step out of district play against a familiar foe in Logan-Magnolia. The Panthers are 5-1 and are almost exclusively rushing. Gavin Macguire leads the ground game with 949 yards and 14 touchdowns, including a long of 66 yards. Brody West (408 yards, 6 TDs) and Dylann Ovlatt (301 yards, 3 TDs) are also capable rushing options. Calvin Wallis has five turnovers, including two fumble recoveries and three interceptions.
* Southwest Valley at Riverside: This is probably the area's biggest 11-man game, as playoff positioning will be on the line. The Bulldogs are fourth in Class A District 7's point-differential standings, and a win over the Timberwolves would help in playoff positioning.
The Bulldogs bounced back nicely from a humbling loss to AHSTW with a dominanting win over Missouri Valley, wherein Austin Kremkowski had a video game-like 457 total yards and six touchdowns, three each rushing and passing.
The Timberwolves are coming off a 15-13 win over Earlham, using a late Evan Timmerman field goal of 22 yards to stun the Cardinals. Brendan Knapp and Bradlee Grantz each had 2-yard touchdowns in the win. The Bulldogs play Earlham in the final week of the regular season.
* West Harrison at Audubon: A tough Hawkeye team, looking to keep its playoff hopes alive, comes to Chis Jones field to play a Wheeler team that's in the playoffs. The Wheelers bounced back from a showdown loss to CAM with an impressive win over Coon Rapids-Bayard, with Gavin Smith having one of his best nights of the year – 370 total yards, 183 through the air, 187 rushing and seven total touchdowns. Garrett Christensen recorded four quarterback sacks.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 52-34 win over Woodbine, wherein the 1-2 punch of Gage Gilgen and Walker Rife combined for 353 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Gilgen and Mason McIntosh each had touchdown passes in what ended up being an offensive slugfest against the Tigers. The Hawkeyes have 1,202 total rushing yards.
* Coon Rapids-Bayard at CAM: The Cougars continue to gobble up real estate, and state-leading Lane Spieker's 1,863 total yards has him nearly 200 yards ahead of the No. 2 guy, Marcus Beatty of Class 3A Independence. Much of that total is on the rush – 1,675 yards – and his 43 total touchdowns are second in the state. With all eyes on Spieker reaching the magic 2,000 barrier, the Crusaders – 63-23 losers to Audubon a week ago – will have a tough task to try to stop him; like many teams in their position, CR-B – which had high hopes going into season – will need to pull an upset and then win next week just to be in consideration for the post-season.
Tanner Oswald had a touchdown pass to Easton Hays for 53 yards, part of a 197-yard night for the Crusaders. He has 12 touchdowns on the year and 1,103 yards to show for his efforts.
* Boyer Valley at Exira-EHK: This might be a must-win game for the Spartans to keep their playoff hopes alive, and it'll have to come against a physical Bulldog team that is coming off a 33-30 loss to Ar-We-Va, wherein a second-half rally fell short. Bulldog quarterback Drew Volkmann had 211 total yards, scoring three different ways (two passing, one rushing, one receiving) on the night. The Bulldogs lean on the rushing game, with Volkmann and Trevor Malone each over 400 yards rushing of the team's 1,314 total.
Trey Petersen connected with Derrek Kommes on an 11-yard pass play midway through the second quarter for Exira-EHK's lone score in a 66-6 loss to CAM. Petersen passed for 51 yards and rushed for 26; Tyler Kingery had three receptions for 33 yards and rushed for 19 yards.
* Fremont-Mills at Griswold: Griswold forfeited its Week 6 game vs. Lenox due to illness and injury. Assuming they're back on the field this week, the Tigers will host a Knights team that, after a 1-2 start – both losses were to Audubon and CAM – has won three straight, including a 60-0 loss to East Union.
The Knights had just 332 total yards, but played reserves liberally for a good portion of the game in the win over the Eagles. Jake Malcom was 6-for-11 for 90 yards and had two touchdowns, while Braxton Blackburn had three rushing touchdowns, including a 72 yard run, in a 146-yard rushing night; he also had a 25-yard touchdown reception. The Knights defense recorded seven quarterback sacks and forced five turnovers, two by Taylor Reed.