Despite losing one of the state leaders in passing yards and touchdowns and dealing with a patchwork running game due to injuries, the Prairie City-Monroe football team was able to scrap its way to a playoff berth for the fifth year in a row.
After falling one game short of the UNI Dome and state semifinals last season while largely enjoying the comforts of home, the Mustangs (4-6, 3-3 Class 2A District 6) will have hit to the road immediately this postseason when they take on Mid-Prairie of Wellman (7-2) at 7 p.m. tonight.
The 160-mile round trip will feature plenty of tough defense and a balanced offense from the Golden Hawks, who have recorded shutouts in three of their last four games. Senior quarterback Reid Miller has moved the ball this season with 1,065 yards through the air, while junior running back Eesaa Baylor leads the team with 11 touchdowns.
Although the Mustangs lost their previous two games heading into the playoffs, their own offense has shown signs of balance for the first time since losing senior quarterback Nate Vande Wall to a foot injury. Junior running back Blake McWilliams has rushed for 74 and 76 yards in the past two weeks, respectively, with a touchdown each week.
Junior Zach Uhlenhopp will make his fourth start at the QB position for the Mustangs tonight. While he’s preferred running the ball to throwing it, he still has plenty of options in his receviers, including senior Ethan Kain, who has racked up 929 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
The winner of tonight’s game will square off with the winner of Bondurant-Farrar and Louisa-Muscatine. Should the Mustangs win and meet up with Bondurant-Farrar, it would be the second time in three weeks the two teams would meet up.