“It’s two undefeated teams going toe-to-toe for the Dome. We’ll prepare and see what we’re made of on Friday up there,” Lynnville-Sully head football coach Mike Parkinson said knowing the Hawks would be playing Hudson’s Pirates in a Class A quarterfinal game.
Eighth-ranked Lynnville-Sully (9-0) plays third-ranked Hudson (10-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in Hudson. The opponents are two of eight undefeated teams still in the hunt in the Iowa Class A football playoffs.
Winners of Friday’s quarterfinal games advance to the Class A semifinals at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. The winner between the Hawks and Pirates will face the winner of two-time defending Class A champion Gladbrook-Reinbeck (9-1) and Saint Ansgar (10-0) at 10 a.m. on Nov. 10.
On the other side of the bracket, Friday quarterfinal games pit West Hancock at top-ranked West Sioux and Gehlen Catholic at No. 5 St. Albert. The winners play the 1 p.m. semifinal on Nov. 10 at the UNI Dome.
The 2017 Class A championship game is at 1:36 p.m. Nov. 16 at the UNI Dome.
“We take one game at a time,” senior quarterback Elijah Collins said after the Hawks dispatched New London last Friday in the first round of the playoffs. “We’ll get after it for another week of practice, preparing for Hudson.”
It will be big and athletic against quick and athletic on Friday night. Parkinson pointed out Hudson has bigger players than Lynnville-Sully does so the Hawks will have to utilize their quickness and speed.
“Hudson has great size, but we feel like we can match up well with that,” Parkinson said. “Sometimes speed can out run the size, but we must play perfect football because Hudson does have speed as well. The best team will win.”
Hudson, which shutout Pekin in its playoff opener, has the seventh best rushing team in Class A, 2,749 yards on 378 carries. Most of those yards were chalked up by 5-foot-9-inch, 172-pound junior running back Christian Seres. Seres stands fourth in rushing in Class A with 1,488 yards on 211 carries, averaging 7.1-yards a carry. He has scored 24 touchdowns.
Junior Jacob Murray, who is 6-foot-4 and 168 pounds, guides the Pirate offense as its quarterback. Murray is 46-of-95 passing for 923 yards with 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions. His top two targets are senior wide receiver Al Hageman and senior tight end Zach Buzynski.
It’s up front where the Pirates have a big size advantage over the Hawks. Playing on the line on both sides of the football are seniors Dawson Ellingson, Wes Geisler and Matt Seres. Ellingson is 6-foot-3 and 267 pounds, Geisler is 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds and Matt Seres is 6-foot-2 and 262 pounds. Add in junior Caleb Koelling at 5-foot-11 and 297 pounds and five other linemen weighing more than 200 pounds each.
“We’ll stick with our defensive philosophy — swarm the ball and gang tackle,” Parkinson said of the Hawk defense “They have a good rushing attack, but our defense holds up well vs the rush and the pass. We must tackle well though.”
Leading the way up front for the Hawk defense are linemen Jesse Van Wyk, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior, Kemper Lukehart, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior, and junior Rylan James, 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. Lukehart is the top tackler for the Hawks with 42 solo stops and 23 assisted tackles, and he had four solo quarterback sacks.
Van Wyk had 23 solo tackles, 15 assisted tackles and has 10 tackles for loss. James has racked up 11 solo steps and eight assisted tackles.
Lynnville-Sully has a solid linebacking corps with senior Sage Zylstra and juniors Evan Squires, Nate Stock and Grant Wehrle. The Hawks’ defensive backs are seniors Carson Dunsbergen and Brevin Hansen and juniors Tyson Vander Linden and Gage Vander Leest.
Zylstra and Vander Leest each have 34 solo tackles and Zylstra had the lead in fumble recoveries, 6, for the Hawks. Squires has recorded 24 solo tackles and 30 assisted tackles and Wehrle has 23 unassisted tackles and 17 assisted tackles.
Dunsbergen has 26 solo tackles and five interceptions, which leads the team. Stock has 22 solo tackles and three solo quarterback sacks.
Hudson has a stingy defense, allowing just 5.3 points a game through 10 contests. Ellingson, Geisler and Matt Seres are the guys up front leading the Pirates in tackles. Ellingson has 47 solo tackles, 26 assisted tackles, 20 tackles for loss while Geisler has 47 solo stops, 23 assisted tackles and 15 tackles for loss. Ellingson has 11 quarterback sacks and Matt Seres has 10 sacks.
“We’ll have a good game plan going in, and as always, will use our players in a number of different ways to create advantages,” Parkinson said.
Lynnville-Sully counters with an offense powered by a talented backfield of four running backs with 300 yards or more. Zylstra has 587 yards on 87 carries with seven TDs followed by Stock with 454 yards on 52 carries, Squires with 448 yards on 82 carries and Vander Leest with 368 yards on 36 carries with a team-leading eight TDs.
Collins had 51 completes in 110 pass attempts of 884 yards and 15 touchdowns. Vander Linden , senior Drake Ehresman and Hansen are the top targets. Vander Linden had seven touchdown receptions.
“Our biggest goal this game is to play our best game of the season as we think that will give us a chance to win,” Parkinson said. “We are healthy going into this one and we expect everyone can handle the road test. We’ve had some long road trips this year and should have no problem adjusting to this one...plus it’s a good practice trip for going to the UNI Dome.”
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or email@example.com