Since Colfax-Mingo joined the South Iowa Cedar League for most of its athletic participation, the Tigerhawks and Lynnville-Sully have made efforts to make sure the rivalry extends to the gridiron.
The two programs will play for a fifth straight year on Friday when Colfax-Mingo takes its undefeated record to Lynnville-Sully to face a Hawks squad still looking for their identity.
It’s the final non-district game for both teams.
Lynnville-Sully (1-2) has won the last two meetings, but the Tigerhawks (3-0) claimed victories in 2014 and 2015. And none of the games were competitive on the scoreboard.
“It’ll be a tough game,” Colfax-Mingo coach Jeff Lietz said. “I expect them to be at their best. Mike (Parkinson) will have them ready to go. It will be quite the battle.”
Colfax-Mingo is looking to start 4-0 for the first time since the Tigerhawks went 9-1 in 2003. Lynnville-Sully also hasn’t been 1-3 or worse since 2014.
L-S coach Mike Parkinson, more than anything else, feels like his squad needs to have way fewer penalties and find a few more players to step up in their new starting roles.
“Penalties are hurting us offensively. It’s making it harder for us to sustain drives,” Parkinson said. “We can’t beat ourselves. We did that too much last week.”
The Hawks opened the season with a 24-0 win over Pleasantville. They followed that up with a blowout loss to Sigourney/Keota and then a narrow loss to now state-ranked Highland.
In each one of their first three games, the Hawks’ defense has allowed at least 137 rushing yards. Sigourney/Keota rushed for 484 yards and Highland gained 246 yards on the ground last week.
“We have to play hungry,” Parkinson said. “We know a lot more about ourselves today than we did the first three weeks. We are still trying to figure it out. We know we have some good guys to work with though.”
Colfax-Mingo presents the Hawks with a unique challenge. The Tigerhawks will spread out the Hawks’ defense and utilize their best players in space. But Colfax-Mingo has ran the ball more effectively so far this season than in most of their previous seasons.
The Tigerhawks have rushed for at least 168 yards in each of their first three games. Senior Damir Gumerov went beyond 100 in the opener and then senior Holister Koenig rushed for 131 yards on just 10 attempts in last week’s road win over Wayne.
Colfax-Mingo also has first-year starter Brady Berkey, who has thrown for a Class 1A-high 11 touchdowns and no picks. His 635 passing yards also ranks fifth in 1A.
Berkey’s favorite target has been senior Zarek Hill, who leads all of 1A with eight receiving TDs. He also has 311 receiving yards, which ranks sixth in 1A.
“They are a versatile offense,” Parkinson said. “If you spend too much time focusing on one, they’ll hurt you the other way. They have a good OL this year, too.”
Lietz said, like every week, the Tigerhawks will take what their opponents give them. The success in the running game isn’t necessarily going to be a pattern all season.
“We’ve always wanted to run the ball,” Lietz said. “Our line is bigger this year, and we have multiple guys who we feel can line up and run the ball, but we’ll do what we do. They have a nice defense, and we’ll see how they choose to defend us.”
Colfax-Mingo’s defense will have two primary players to focus on.
Senior Gage Vander Leest moved over to quarterback this season for L-S. He is 20-of-27 through the air for 236 yards and two TDs. He’s also the Hawks’ leading rusher with 487 yards and five TDs.
Senior Tyson Vander Linden is the next most productive Hawk. He has 20 catches of the 25 completed passes by L-S passers this year. He’s gained 212 yards as a receiver, 172 on the ground and scored two touchdowns.
Vander Leest also leads his team in tackles with 19.
“You have to know where (Vander Leest) is,” Lietz said. “He’ll get his yards, but we hope to keep those yards between the 20s.”
For Colfax-Mingo, the defense has been led by junior Andres Villegas. He did not play football as a freshman and was a rotational player along the defensive line last season. This year, he’s made a much bigger impact.
Villegas has a team-high 19 tackles, five tackles for loss and two sacks.
“He made a decision this offseason to work his butt off,” Lietz said. “He didn’t miss weight room this summer. He’s dedicated and is giving our defense a boost.”
For Parkinson and the L-S coaching staff, they are looking for a few more players to step up.
“We need guys to show they belong on the varsity level,” Parkinson said. “We need 11 guys, and we need them all to be totally engaged.”
The Tigerhawks and Hawks kick off at 7 p.m. Friday in Sully.
PCM (3-0) at Pella Christian (2-1), 7 p.m.
The Mustangs have played a tough non-district schedule to start the season. And they were rewarded with the No. 1 RPI in Class 2A by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
PCM’s toughest opponent could be waiting for it in Pella on Friday night as the 2A No. 2 Mustangs travel to 1A No. 8 Pella Christian for the final non-district game of the season for both teams.
PCM has lost six straight to the Eagles, and its last win in the series came during the Mustangs’ best season of the last decade, 2011.
The Mustangs are excelling on both sides of the ball. The first-team defense has allowed only 16 points in 10 quarters and the offense is averaging 44 points per game during that same stretch.
Senior quarterback Reed Worth has thrown for 469 yards and five TDs and rushed for 254 yards and four scores.
Senior tailback Wes Cummings has rushed for 364 yards and five TDs and caught five passes for 52 more yards. He’s 607 rushing yards away from the career rushing record at PCM, which was set by Hutch Burns in 2011.
Pella Christian is coming off a 24-21 win over Iowa City Regina, but the Regals did not have starting quarterback Ashton Cook for the game.
The Mustangs’ top priority will be Noah Treimer. Treimer leads the Eagles with 238 rushing yards, 132 receiving yards and five total touchdowns on offense and 25 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, one interception return for a TD and a fumble recovery on defense. He’s also returned a kickoff for a score.
Pella Christian is averaging 27 points per game but has put up 38 points per contest in the wins. The Eagles were held to seven points in their loss to 1A No. 3 Van Meter.
PCM led the Eagles 14-10 at halftime last year before losing 24-22. That was the closest game during Pella Christian’s current six-game winning streak. The Mustangs’ last win over the Eagles was a 33-14 rout in 2011.
Collins-Maxwell (0-4, 0-1) at Baxter (0-3, 0-1), 7 p.m.
One of these two teams will get to celebrate their first win of the season on Friday. And they will try to crack the win column of the 8-man District 5 standings, too.
The Bolts enter the game averaging 11 points per game but are allowing 75 points per contest. They’ll also likely have to play this game without starting quarterback Cole Damman, who was injured in last week’s loss to Melcher-Dallas.
The backup quarterback is senior Brendyn Padget, who currently leads the team in receiving.
Baxter will need to rely even more on its experienced and talented offensive line to move the ball. The defense needs to find a way to slow down the opposing team’s offense.
The good news for the Bolts is that Collins-Maxwell is only averaging 14 points per game in its first four games of the season. The Spartans’ defense is allowing 50 points per contest.
Senior Caleb Fullerton and junior Brett Livesay are the Spartans’ best players. Fullerton leads the team in rushing with 142 yards and three touchdowns. He also has a team-high 36 tackles. Livesay leads the receivers with 15 catches, 185 yards and a TD. Defensively, Livesay has 20 1/2 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
This is the first football meeting between the two schools since Baxter ended a 29-year athletic partnership with Collins-Maxwell two years ago. They did not play last season during the first year of the split.