Through the first two weeks this season, the St. Edmond football team has shown very few chinks in its armor.
With any potential flaws seemingly all worked out, the Gaels have a perfect chance to prove they belong among Iowa's elite Class 2A programs here tonight.
No. 7 St. Edmond (2-0 overall) welcomes fourth-ranked and defending state runner-up North Polk (2-0) for a must-see District 7 opener.
Kickoff for the rare Saturday evening tilt is set for 7:30 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.
"It would be big if we could start off district play with a win, especially against a team that's ahead of us ranking-wise," said Gael head coach Dick Tighe, who ranks as Iowa's all-time prep wins leader on the gridiron with 384. "I'm not thrilled about playing a Saturday night game, but (the Comets) are in the same boat as we are. There will be a lot more distractions than usual, so we'll just have to do our best to stay focused."
After going 10-4 a year ago, North Polk has hardly skipped a beat so far this fall, posting comfortable victories over Bondurant-Farrar (34-20) and Eagle Grove (42-14). The Comets are averaging 349.5 yards of total offense per game, including 280.5 on the ground.
TE - Patrick Champa, 220, sr.; OT - Ryan Rodenborn, 230, sr.; OG - Dillon Nelson, 180, jr.; C - Joe Winge, 175, sr.; RG - Teddie Harvey, 165, jr.; RT - Jacob Salisbury, 223, jr.; QB - David Flattery, 175, jr.; FB - Alex Mericle, 190, jr.; TB - Neil Flattery, 190, sr.; WB - Matt Stumpf, 150, jr.; SE - Nick Clark, 160, sr.
DE - Champa; DT - Rodenborn; DT - Nelson; NG - Vinnie Harvey, 205, so.; DE - Ross Taets, 190, sr.; LB - Mericle; LB - Teddie Harvey; CB - Flattery; CB - Stumpf; SS - Aaron McElroy, 150, jr.; FS - Clark.
"North Polk's huge along the line and has two tremendous running backs," Tighe said. "We actually kind of mirror each other in that both teams like to play old-fashioned power football and don't throw the ball very much.
"It'll be a really physical game, and we have to make them drive at least 80 yards and can't allow any good field position."
Seniors Noah Pickard and Cody Moeckly form a dynamic duo in the Comet backfield. Pickard has accounted for a team-high 401 yards rushing and six touchdowns on 45 carries. Moeckly has also delivered 131 yards and two scores on 27 attempts. The two-headed monster of Pickard and Moeckly combined to chalk up 2,714 yards and reached paydirt 30 times on the ground in 2010. Pickard, a 2A INA first-team all-state linebacker as a junior, spearheads the stingy North Polk defensive unit as well with 23 tackles and four sacks.
"They have an awfully good 1-2 punch with Pickard and (Moeckly)," said Tighe. "It should be a rock'em, sock'em game in the trenches, so I'm anxious to see how we can do."
Quarterback Kyle Stillmunkes, a senior, has completed 8 of 14 passes for 108 yards with one touchdown and one pick for the Comets. Juniors Sam Pickard (5 catches for 88 yards) and Jacob Hadaway (3-45) have been Stillmunkes' favorite targets.
Senior Neil Flattery (34-219-2) and junior (17-164-5) Aaron McElroy are the top rushers for the Gaels, who are generating 34 points and 312.5 yards per contest. Signal-caller David Flattery, a junior, has also passed for 191 yards and a pair of scores. Senior Nick Clark has hauled in a team-best six receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns. St. Edmond has yet to turn the ball over in its first two games.
"We have to find a way to make big plays either by throwing or running," Tighe said. "Even though (the Comets) have a big line, they only have one returning guy from last year (215-pound senior Andrew Wampler).
Junior linebacker Teddie Harvey (31), sophomore nose guard Vinnie Harvey (15) and junior cornerback Matt Stumpf (15) pace the green and white in tackles. SEHS has already notched 13 sacks on the year, including six from Vinnie Harvey.
The Gaels are looking to avenge last season's narrow 28-24 setback to the Comets.
Contact Josh Meyer at (515) 573-2141, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org