Last season, the Colfax-Mingo football team missed the playoffs, but still ended its season on a high note by playing spoiler to Interstate 35's own playoff chances.
Although this Friday will offer a slightly bigger challenge, the Tigerhawks (2-6, 0-5 Class 1A District 7) are hoping to take that role once again when they welcome in Pella Christian (5-2, 2-2) for their final game of the season.
It has been a tough transition for Colfax-Mingo to its new district and class, but there are multiple indicators that this could be a closer game than it looks on paper. The Tigerhawks will keep senior Jaden Van Dyke at quarterback, who nearly led the team to a victory over Des Moines Christian last week, while the Eagles enter the game with two losses in a row.
"This will be the first game this year we will have all of our upperclassmen healthy to play, so we feel that is a real positive going into the week," C-M coach Mike Rupert said. "Jaden Van Dyke will be our quarterback this week with (freshman Jared) Myers possibly getting some plays also."
C-M fell to Des Moines Christian 19-14 despite Van Dyke completing and catching passes, as well as rushing for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Tunrovers were the shifting point in the game, however, as the Lions forced two picks and two other giveaways to hold off what could’ve been a Tigerhawk victory.
“The kids played hard last week and could have won, but four turnovers were a huge part of why we lost the game,” Rupert said.
Pella Christian enters the game sputtering a bit as well. After dominating their first five games, the Eagles dropped back-to-back games to Ogden and Van Meter to fall to fourth place in the district and just one game away from missing the playoffs entirely.
Despite that two-game losing streak, the Eagles still are no slouch. After losing senior captain and leading rusher Caleb Morgan to a broken ankle a few weeks ago, the Eagles have turned to a committee at running back to replace him. Fellow senior Michael Mason has since put up comparable numbers, rushing 78 times for 560 yards and six touchdowns to Morgan’s 77 rushes for 570 yards and six scores.
Pella Christian also boasts senior wide receiver Blake Riggen who hasn’t racked up many yards, but does have five touchdowns on the year. Quarterback Colten Collins has thrown for 628 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven picks, but seems to a one-dimensional player as he has yet to record a rushing attempt this season.
“Pella Christian has some speed and is aggressive on the front line,” Rupert said. “We consider them as being one of the elite teams in the district even thought they have two district losses so far. We know this is a must-win game for them to qualify for the playoffs.”
Van Dyke took the QB reigns after junior Juan Gonzales and Myers both went down with injuries at Saydel in Week 2. He was able to lead the Tigerhawks to a victory over Southeast Warren, but the team has since lost five in a row.
Considering the shuffling the team has had to do on the offensive line and other spots throughout this season, having a healthy cast of upperclassmen will be a welcomed change. Especially considering it will be the final home game for nine seniors, C-M isn’t ruling out that an upset could be in the works once again this year.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Colfax.