Entering the thick of the district schedule, the Lynnville-Sully football team might be hitting its stride at the right time.
A lopsided season-opening loss to Pella Christian is a thing of the past, and back-to-back district wins have the Hawks (3-2, 2-1 Class A District 6) right back in the district title hunt.
Coming off a 61-0 blowout of Southeast Warren last week, the Hawks will get to square off against another winless team this week when they travel to Pleasantville (0-5) on Friday. And although it seems like another quick win on paper, Lynnville-Sully coach Mike Parkinson is aware of the danger of these types of games.
“You don’t know what a team is going to bring each game, and they’ve brought some different coaching to the games we’ve seen,” Parkinson said. “We’re just going to be ready for anything and everything, and we’ll be there to play good defense and hopefully continue our success on offense.”
Opposite of many of the Hawks’ opponents this year, Pleasantville prefers to move the ball through the air. Sophomore quarterback Haden Fouch leads the district with 711 passing yards, but also has 10 interceptions to just seven touchdowns. His favorite target, senior Chris Peden, also tops the district with 315 yards receiving.
The flip side to the Trojans’ strong pass game is a very limited ground attack. Compared to the Hawks’ 1,266 rushing yards this year, Pleasantville is dead last in the district with just 174 yards on 117 carries.
“We’ve seen a lot of run-heavy teams, and I don’t know if Pleasantville will be pass-heavy, but that’s what it looks like based on their stats,” Parkinson said. “They probably want to get the ball to their playmakers like any team will, so we just need to key up on those guys.”
A one-sided offense could play right into the Hawks’ hands, as Parkinson feels the defense has officially come into its own. Against Southeast Warren, Lynnville-Sully recorded six sacks and had six forced fumbles. On the other side of the ball, however, the Hawks will use this week as another chance to get some kinks worked out on offense.
“Offensively, we’ll need to do some tweaking here and there as the weeks go on just to find some stuff we want,” Parkinson said. “I really think we’ve found our identity defensively, but we’re starting to hit our stride offensively. We’ve just got some different guys playing different spots every once in a while.”
Playing teams with sub-.500 records will be something the Hawks will be used to for the next few weeks, as their next three opponents have three wins combined. It would be easy to look ahead to the season finale against Montezuma, but Parkinson feels his team has enough focus to get itself through the next three games with no problems.
“I don’t doubt they’re looking forward to playing Montezuma, but I also know they’re looking forward to playing Pleasantville, North Mahaska and English Valleys as well,” Parkinson said. “They’re pretty good about taking it one game at a time, and they know that when we get them in practice and game film. We just need to focus on the team we’re playing, and we’re in no shape to be looking down the road.”
Although Parkinson is feeling better about his team each week, he has maintained confidence in the trenches all season. Led by his big “beef eaters” up front, Parkinson feels that much of the teams success lies in the success of his offensive and defensive lines each week.
“The big guys up front have been playing really well and I have a lot of confidence in those guys,” Parkinson said. “We ran for more than 400 yards last week and the backs will get a lot of the love, but the line makes the clock run and those guys have been working really hard.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Pleasantville.