The Lynnville-Sully and Pekin football teams have combined to rush for more than 3,000 yards this season.
If the Hawks and Panthers expect to stay undefeated, they most certainly will have to find a way to slow the other one’s running game down.
Lynnville-Sully enters the week 5-0 and ranked ninth in Class A. Pekin is 6-0 and ranked sixth. The winner of Friday night’s game which kicks off at 7 p.m. will be in the driver’s seat for the District 6 title.
The Hawks defeated Pekin 43-14 last year and ended the Panthers’ season with a 36-34 postseason win in 2015.
“We match up well with each other,” L-S coach Mike Parkinson said. “We expect the winner of the game will be the team who executes the best. We’ll have to play fundamentally sound football to win.”
Pekin enters the game as the state’s top rushing team at 1,800 yards. The Panthers have a Class A-high 25 rushing touchdowns and are averaging 10.1 yards per rush, which ranks second.
Playing one more game than the Hawks, Pekin has scored 10 more points offensively. The Panthers are allowing less than a touchdown per game defensively and have recorded two shutouts.
“We’ll have to stop the run first,” Parkinson said. “They’ll pack it in tight and plow forward. We expect our defensive linemen to get double teamed so our linebackers are going to have to have big nights.”
Senior Monico Requena leads the Panthers with 635 rushing yards, which ranks eighth in Class A. He has a class-high 14 rushing TDs. Requena has scored a class-high 104 points, averages 9.6 yards per carry and has taken two punts back for scores.
But the Panthers also have senior Torell Washington and sophomore Dayne Eckley, who have gained 498 and 315 yards on the ground, respectively.
When the Panthers throw the ball, Caleb Comstock (471 passing yards, six passing TDs) most likely will look to Chandler Eckley first. Chandler Eckley has 12 catches for 312 yards and four scores and also averages 36 yards per kickoff return including a TD.
Pekin’s kicker has not missed this season. Levi Rohr is 30-of-30 in PATs and 1-of-1 in field goals. He also has 15 touchbacks, which ranks second in the class.
“They are a great team, and we know it will be a challenge,” Parkinson said. “They have lots of athletes, but I think we’ll be ready to go.”
Friday night will be Lynnville-Sully’s homecoming game. That also presents potential distractions off the field.
“We treat homecoming like any other week. It’s just another game, and our No. 1 competition is ourselves,” Parkinson said. “It’s a super busy week, and kids can only take so much, but we focus on being smart this week and every week.”
Defensively. Parkinson said Pekin mirrors his Hawk team when it comes to formations and alignments. That’s why he feels it will come down to execution.
Lynnville-Sully has rushed for 1,232 yards this season. The Hawks are averaging 7.6 yards per carry, which ranks seventh in Class A, and has scored 23 rushing TDs, which is tied for third. The Hawks offense is averaging 51.4 points per game.
Defensively, the Hawks are allowing 7.6 points per game and have not allowed a single point in three weeks. They rank fourth in the class with eight interceptions, rank seventh with eight fumble recoveries and have scored two defensive TDs.
“We haven’t hadn’t this type of opportunity yet this season,” Parkinson said. “We’ll know where we are at, and this game is going to help us become the team we need to become.”
The Hawks rushed for 306 yards in last year’s win over Pekin. Junior Sage Zylstra, who leads a balanced rushing attack with 319 rushing yards, had 154 yards in that win. Pekin gained only 208 total yards against the Hawks.
In the 2015 playoff win, the Hawks rushed for 289 yards.
The two teams have two common opponents. L-S defeated North Mahaska 54-14, and Pekin defeated the Warhawks 42-0. The Hawks defeated Cardinal 74-0, and the Panthers had a 56-6 victory.
Baxter (4-1) at Midland (4-1)
Two very different offenses square off in Wyoming on Friday. Baxter leads 8-man football with 1,387 passing yards, and No. 10 Midland ranks third with 1,673 rushing yards.
The Bolts, who just missed a top-10 ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll, will have to slow down senior Austin Smith, who leads 8-man with 1,097 rushing yards and is tied for second with 18 TDs. Smith is averaging 11 yards per carry.
The Eagles are averaging 59 points per game despite attempting only 46 passes on the season. They averaged nearly nine yards per carry.
On the flip side, Baxter’s Braydon Aker leads 8-man with 1,387 passing yards and 24 TDs. His favorite target, Travis Lindemoen, leads the class in catches (34), receiving yards (833) and touchdowns (15).
Lindemoen is averaging 24.5 yards per catch and has returned both a punt and kickoff for touchdowns.
Both teams have scored 39 TDs.
Defensively, Midland has four interceptions, nine fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Griffin Gravel leads the defense with 36 1/2 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks.
Baxter is tied for third with eight interceptions. Senior Marcus Mitchell has 39 1/2 tackles and six tackles for loss to lead the Bolts’ defense.
Colfax-Mingo (2-4, 1-2) at North Tama (1-4, 0-3)
Two of the best passing attacks in Class A square off Friday in Traer. The Tigerhawks rank third in the class with 1,020 passing yards, and North Tama sits sixth with 901 yards.
Colfax-Mingo got its first district win last week against Grand View Christian. The Redhawks are 0-3 after starting district play with the three teams who are yet to lose a league game in No. 2 Gladbrook-Reinbeck, No. 7 Hudson and Belle Plaine.
North Tama sophomore Skyler Staker has 901 passing yards but only two TDs. The Redhawks have scored only 60 points in five games. Staker has connected with six receivers at least eight times each.
The Redhawk defense is allowing 35 points per game. They have three interceptions and are tied for ninth in the class with seven fumble recoveries.
Tigerhawk senior Reegan Van Dyke ranks fourth in the class with 996 yards and tied for fourth with 10 TD passes.
Both junior Zarek Hill (22 catches, 343 receiving yards and four TDs) and senior Alex Lewis (20 catches, 303 yards, four TDs) rank in the top 12 in three different receiving categories.
Hill ranks tied for second in the class with four picks and he also has 28 tackles and two fumble recoveries on defense. Lewis ranks tied for second with three fumble recoveries.
The Tigerhawk defense is tied for second with 10 picks and ranked tied for third with 10 fumble recoveries. Senior Jake Dunsbergen ranks fourth in Class A with 47 1/2 tackles.
PCM (4-1, 3-0) at Chariton (2-3, 1-2)
The 2A No. 8 Mustangs look to win their 12th straight district game when they head to Chariton on Friday night.
PCM, in at least one less game than most teams in 2A, ranks 10th in the class with 933 passing yards and tied for second with 16 TD passes.
The Mustangs have scored 212 points, which ranks third in 2A. They are averaging 59 points per game on offense and giving up 12.5 points per game on defense.
Junior Reed Worth has thrown for 880 yards and is tied for second in 2A with 14 TD passes. He’s also rushed for 226 yards and three scores.
Junior Preston Van Wyk ranks sixth in 2A with 404 receiving yards and is tied for third with seven TDs, and he’s done so on just 11 catches. He’s averaging 37 yards per reception.
The Mustangs can also rush it. Junior Wes Cummings has 396 rushing yards and five TDs, and he has 10 catches for 101 yards and a TD. Cummings is averaging 8.8 yards per carry.
PCM kicker Brady Fagen has 10 touchbacks on the season, which ranks tied for third.
The PCM defense, led by junior Cole Dustin (19 1/2 tackles, eight tackles for loss), will face a Chariton offense that has the seventh fewest passing yards in 2A with 328. The Chargers are averaging 16.4 points per game.
Dylan Harberts leads the offense with 391 rushing yards, and three other backs have at least 100 yards.
Dylan Cain leads the Chariton defense with 58 tackles, which ranks second in 2A, and two interceptions.