Football season keeps rolling, with homecoming parades and Friday night celebrations littering high schools week after week.
Week 4 is here, meaning there’s just one more week of tuneup before the district contests start up in Iowa.
This week sees a lot of local matchups and games with high stakes as teams ready for their district opponents, with some feeling the toll of football season already.
INJURIES PLAGUE RIVER KINGS
The Clinton football team is feeling some pressure when it comes to the depth of their roster.
The already young River Kings succumbed to a number of injuries through the first three weeks, including two big losses in Logan Mulholland and Jasper Luckritz. That puts them down to just 22 or 23 healthy guys on the roster.
“Practicing is difficult and depth becomes a huge issue,” head coach Jon Wauford said.
It comes after the River Kings put together a much improved, cleaned up football game against Burlington. After an 18-penalty Week 2, the River Kings had a late lead on the road against Burlington before they saw the Bulldogs take it in the final moments, falling 33-26.
“We cut down on the mistakes,” Wauford said. “The week before we gave ourselves no chance to win because of the mistakes we made on that side of the ball. It was nice to see us operate a little more smoothly.”
Now, they have a win-able game with Wahlert Cahtolic coming to town.
“Week in and week out, you’re trying to learn,” Wauford said. “That’s the process you go through.”
The Golden Eagles were one of Clinton’s wins last season and are coming in 2-1. They depend heavily on their run game, including back Gabe Anstoetter who had over 250 yards through the first three.
“You have to adjust your defense and adjust your offense to effectively eliminate those things,” Wauford said. Every week is the same. It’s challenging the kids to learn and pay attention and give ourselves a chance to win.”
That means the Kings will be missing Luckritz and Mulholland on the defensive end. Making up for Luckritz will be another sophomore, Nathan Beeler.
“He’s got to step up and make some plays,” Wauford said.
MOTIVATED INDIANS WELCOME SABERS
After starting the season 2-0, last week’s loss certainly isn’t the end of the world for the Indians.
But the motivated Camanche team is looking forward to rebounding from it and coming back stronger. Especially considering it’s their homecoming week and they’re welcoming a local foe.
In last week’s 21-7 loss to North Cedar on the road, the Camanche offense struggled to get much going. That included a number of interceptions thrown by junior quarterback Jordan Lawrence.
“We didn’t have much going,” head coach Dustin Coit said. “Four turnovers and then we’ve get stuff going or have a big play, then we’ve have a negative play and not really recover from it. I don’t know if I can pinpoint why, but we still had our chances.”
Still, they’re not ready for another game like that.
“We watch film and we had a harsh film session showing what we need to correct,” Coit said. “We’ve had great practices and they’ve responded well. They’re very motivated kids and I think we’ll forget about last Friday and focus on DeWitt.”
The Indians will be looking at Central DeWitt team with a lot in their back pocket. The Sabers are 2-1, and have meshed a number of approaches to help with their success.
Caleb Pace and Zach Hinkle have impressed with rushing yards, while Henry Bloom has thrown for nearly 400 yards. They throw in both John McCohony and Johnny Samora in the pocket as well.
“It’s like last week, we have to stop the run,” Coit said. “They have really big receivers [Logan Paulsen, Caleb Pace, Tucker Kinney] too who run hard, we have to match that physicality.”
The Indians want to use some of their speed to get points rolling this time. While their defense has been steady all year, they want to make sure their offense is there as well.
“We’re still looking our speedy guys the ball in space,” Coit said. “They can make things happen. We added some new routes and plays I think will help too, just something they haven’t seen.
FULL STRENGTH STEAMERS, MUSTANGS GO HEAD TO HEAD
The Wooden Shoe Bowl is always a favorite.
The long standing rivalry game between Fulton and Morrison draws huge crowds from both sides and has a tradition of being a well-played contest, always exciting.
The Steamers have grabbed the Wooden Shoe the last five years. This year, the game has quite a bit at stake.
The Morrison football team has started off 3-0 and is getting some votes in the Associated Press Illinois High School football poll. Meanwhile, the 2-1 Steamers just returned to full strength, adding star runningback Kyler Pessman along with some big parts of the line.
“It’s nice to be 3-0,” head coach Ryan Oetting said. “We’ve played well and it could be the other way around.”
Last year, in Oetting’s first year at the helm of the program, the Mustangs lost 14-12 to the Steamers in the same event. They lost their senior quarterback to an injury as well, leading the way to a losing season.
“It was a physical hard nosed game,” Oetting said. “We lost a quarterback that game and had a sophomore step in. Now he’s our starter so hopefully a little more of his experience will help out along with the other five or six boys that played a lot as juniors. You learn from a long season when you’re 2-7 .”
Things look quite a bit different so far this year, with their experience taking a lot of the close games that ended in losses last year.
In Week 4, both teams offer a similarly built team: they’re fast.
“We hope to use our speed,” Oetting said. “We preach getting 11 guys to every football. We’re going to have to play that way to stop Fulton’s running game.”
That’s what the 2-1 Steamers are looking at as well.
“What really jumps out as us is their overall team speed,” head coach Patrick Lower said. “They just really get out and run, we have to be good in space against these guys.”
The Steamers have their own speed, but have had some defensive breakdowns so far this season with a young line.
“It’s going to be our ability to not so much stop them, but contain them,” Lower said. “If we can make them earn it down the field. We know they’re going to get loose every once in a while, but we want to limit that.”
Either way, the matchup lends itself to an exciting Friday night in Morrison, and another thrilling Wooden Shoe Bowl.
“Our kids understand the importance of this game,” Lower said. “They’re competitive, and that makes them fun that way.”
RIVER HAWKS LOOK TO RANKINGS
Going 3-0 is always good.
Beating a team 86-0 on the third win of the season is even better.
“The last three weeks, we’ve really worked hard on our defense,” head coach Tony Johnson said about the win. “It’s getting the kids to buy into the gameplan each week. We’ve really show up this year.”
The starters played just a quarter for the River Hawks last week in the win over Central Elkader.
That’s where Tony Johnson and his team is sitting heading into week four, one district win under their belt. They get their biggest test of the season this week, heading on the road to Midland.
Midland has dominated the 8-man district for a few years, but Easton Valley has made their own splash in the first games of the season.
They want that to continue.
“When you come to a team like Midland who’s dominated you the last four years, it starts to sink in as a mental thing,” Johnson said. “Getting over that mental hump is huge.
“Physically, I think we can match up with them. We have to take a step back and look how teams prepare for us, and we have that confidence in ourselves that we’ll show up and get to work.”
Midland is coming off of their first loss of the season and has dropped from the 8-man state rankings. With a cool head and star quarterback like Nate Trenkamp in the back plus a solid defensive line, Johnson is feeling good about their chances Friday.
“We haven’t had to deal with too much adversity this year, so it’s key how we handle that adversity moving forward,” Johnson said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
REBELS HUNGRY FOR FIRST W
The Rebels could see a victory in the distance last week, but watched it slip away.
That leaves them even more motivated to grab Week 4’s game, especially in front of a home crowd on homecoming night.
In an exciting Week 3 matchup, the Rebels held leads for parts of the game but ultimately fell to Wapello 28-23. Still, they looked better with their offense putting up three times as many points as they had the first two weeks.
“We’re just gaining confidence in the offense and beginning to understand what we’re trying to accomplish and they’re getting more comfortable with that as well,” first year head coach Mark Lee said.
Lee and the Rebels are welcoming Alburnett to Goose Lake for homecoming, a team that also is winless.
With a similar play style – lots of rushing – Lee hopes his defense can step up and contain the run while the offense continues to put scores on the board.