Four area football teams will begin the postseason Friday. All four will be on the road. All four will have to stop the run to win.
Three of the four schools will be heavy underdogs in the first-round matchups as Newton and Colfax-Mingo are both 0-7 and Lynnville-Sully is 1-4.
Newton (0-7) at Grinnell (5-2), 7 p.m.
The Cardinals and Tigers opened the district season against each other back in Week 3 with Grinnell winning 57-13.
The Tigers led the game 20-0 after one and were up 43-0 at halftime.
Newton head coach Andy Swedenhjelm hopes to have his entire roster at in-person practices this week.
"Consistency is huge. The last time we played them we had to have our offensive line practicing via zoom during the week since they were not able to be at practice," Newton head coach Andy Swedenhjelm said. "This week is playing out better so it will be nice to have all of our kids available and working together for this playoff game."
For Newton to win, it will have to find a way to slow down Wyatt Hunter, who leads all classes with 1,800 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns.
Hunter also is second on the team with 36 tackles and one interception on defense.
In the first meeting, Hunter rushed for 246 yards and five TDs. Grinnell had 506 total yards to just 214 for Newton.
"Their offense definitely runs through Wyatt. He's a phenomenal back," Swedenhjelm said. "I always believe in trying to take away what a team is best at and make them beat you a different way. We are going to do everything we can to stop the run."
The Tigers' defense is led by Eli Rose, whose 60.5 tackles ranks third in 3A. He also has 7.5 tackles for loss.
According to BC Moore, an analytical website that projects results based on season performance, the Tigers are a 43-point favorite.
"To me it doesn't really matter who we play, we are just ready to compete and keep improving," Swedenhjelm said. "We were able to do some good things against them last time so I'm hoping we can show our kids that and build upon it."
Grinnell will play a postseason game for the first time since 2013.
Baxter (3-4) at Iowa Valley (3-4), 7 p.m.
According to BC Moore, this could be the closest matchup for an area team as the Bolts are just 3.4-point underdogs.
Baxter has led at halftime in six of its seven games this season and takes a two-game winning streak into the playoffs.
The Bolts and Tigers are in the same district but did not play in 2020 because of the shortened season.
Against common opponents Colo-NESCO, BGM, HLV, Collins-Maxwell and Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Iowa Valley went 2-3 while Baxter was 1-4.
Against BGM, Iowa Valley lost 48-46 while Baxter was defeated 48-8. On the flip side, Iowa Valley lost to HLV 58-6 and Baxter lost a close 64-58 game on the road.
Iowa Valley is a run-first offense. The Tigers have thrown for only 383 yards this season and has eight interceptions.
Brody Ward (477 yards, 10 TDs), Evan Reuter (397 yards, 6 TDs) and Evan Kearney (269 yards, 5 TDs) lead the rushing attack for Iowa Valley.
Five of Kearney's eight catches went for TDs. Reuter also has a team-high 10 receptions.
Reuter leads the defense with 58 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Brody Hoyt has 69 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Kearney returned the team's only defensive interception back for a touchdown.
Lynnville-Sully (1-4) at Belle Plaine (5-2), 7 p.m.
These two teams were scheduled to play in the regular season but the date fell during the time the Hawks were off due to 100 percent online learning.
The Hawks are back to action now and these two teams will settle the score in the postseason.
Belle Plaine opened 2020 with a 20-0 loss to No. 10 Lisbon and closed the year with a 42-0 loss to No. 1 Grundy Center.
The Plainsmen won all the games in between and only the 28-21 win over Mid-Prairie was within single digits.
Luke DeMeulenaere leads Belle Plaine and Class A in rushing with 1,238 yards and is tied for fifth with 13 rushing TDs. He also leads the team with 10 catches and has 44.5 tackles and one sack on defense.
Belle Plaine's defense is led by Chase Wickwire, who has 45 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries.
BC Moore has the Plainsmen favored by 38 points over the Hawks.
Colfax-Mingo (0-7) at Woodward-Granger (5-2), 7 p.m.
BC Moore has this game as the biggest defict in the area with W-G favored by 74 points.
But the Tigerhawks are getting healthy at the right time. Most of the starters they lost during the regular season to injury are back and the Tigerhawks will have to contain a run-first offense.
Woodward-Granger is led by Kade Polich (601 yards, 9 TDs) and Jake Lego (528 rushing, 7 TDs) on the ground.
Trevor Simmons also has 825 passing yards and eight TDs and leads the team with 38.5 tackles and three fumble recoveries on defense.
Five of Christian Husmann's 12 catches went for touchdowns.
John McKeever headlines the defense with 33.5 tackles, three sacks, six tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.
PCM draws first-round bye
The Mustangs are off this week after winning another 2A District 8 title. PCM's unbeaten team will play at home against either Saydel or Clarke next week.
PCM (7-0) handled both teams easily during district play this season.