DEWITT – The football programs at Clinton High School and Central DeWitt have only played each other twice in the past 10 years, and if history is any indication, fans should expect... a blowout?
The River Kings and Sabers met in 2014 and 2015 and both games were decided by at least 30 points: Clinton won 40-10 in the latest matchup while Central DeWitt poured on a 55-20 win in 2014.
Clinton coach Jon Wauford was on the sidelines in 2015 in the Week 0 contest. Sabers coach Ryan Streets was not, as he came to DeWitt this summer after an impressive tenure with Anamosa.
The coaches acknowledge a heightened importance as the Clinton County showdown makes its return to the gridiron, especially with district positioning on the line, as both teams figure to jostle for the fourth-place position in District 4 (Class 3A) as the schedule winds to a close.
"We are interested," Wauford said. "We want to play and we are looking forward to it."
Streets suggested he anticipates a lively crowd despite Friday night's chilly forecast, as both sides require minimal transportation to attend.
"It is fun. The parents and fans like it because no one wants to travel an hour or two for a football game," Streets said. "It is a good rivalry and we like it."
While Clinton enters with a higher population than DeWitt – roughly 26,000 vs. 5,000 residents, according to a 2016 United State Census study – the Sabers will enter the district battle with a one-game lead in the win-loss standings, as Streets' team enters at 4-3 while Wauford brings in a 3-4 record.
On paper, with only a pair of games left on the calendar, Friday's contest could dictate which of the two programs finishes the season with a better record, as Clinton will play a struggling 2-5 Iowa City Liberty team to close out the campaign while DeWitt hosts an undefeated Clear Creek Amana.
Running remains key for Sabers
At this point in the season, there is nothing ambiguous about Central DeWitt's offensive game plan when it takes the field on a Friday night. Sabers running back Easton Necker leads Class 3A competition with 1,153 yards this season and typically sees the ball roughly 20 times a game.
"They are an awfully big team and are bigger than we are," Wauford said. "We are going to try some things to counteract that a little bit."
Streets' concern relies on ball security, an issue he says has plagued the team throughout the season. But the Sabers enter this week coming off a clean 35-0 victory in a rain-shortened contest with Liberty – and they didn't commit any turnovers.
"We have harped on it the last few weeks... our turnover ratio has been terrible," Streets said. "We were dead last heading in that going into last week and we finally turned the corner [in the Liberty game]."
Godette turns heads in DeWitt
While the Clinton offense has only mustered 14 points in its last three games, quarterback Kalvin Godette still warrants a share of attention every time he puts on a helmet.
Godette is known for his dual-threat skill set, as he has combined for 1,392 yards from scrimmage this season – 851 passing and 541 rushing – to lead the team in both categories.
"We really like their quarterback," Streets said. "He runs the ball hard and is shifty and tough to tackle."
Obviously, both teams aim to strike first, and Clinton has flourished in its opening possessions this season. The River Kings had a 7-0 lead over Davenport Assumption on Sept. 23 before allowing 40 unanswered points and were tied 7-7 with North Scott and yielded 30 consecutive points in those losses.
Wauford says the team needs to improve on in-game adjustments.
"When teams adjust to what we are doing out of the gate, we have to do a better job of finding an answer for them and we haven't done a very good job with that so far," Wauford said.
Clinton (3-4) and Central DeWitt (4-3) are slated for kickoff at 7:15 p.m. Friday in DeWitt.