As the temperatures begin to drop, the intensity on the gridiron is sure to heat up.
Just under a month remains in the season, meaning each and every contest from here on out will have serious playoff implications.
Despite the loss of several standout players, Webster City hasn't skipped a beat. The Lynx (3-1 overall, 2-0 in district) will welcome Algona this evening.
In 2A, a 2011 playoff rematch goes down, as Clarion-Goldfield (4-0, 2-0) puts its undefeated record on the line at Forest City (3-1, 1-1). Last season, the Cowboys defeated the Indians, 44-29, in the second round of state.
A non-district affair is set for Manson, as the Cougars (2-2) welcome sixth-ranked (1A) Emmetsburg (3-1). This is also a playoff rematch from a year ago, as the E-Hawks won that contest, 42-13.
District unbeatens Prairie Valley (3-1, 2-0) and Mason City Newman (2-2, 2-0) collide in Mason City. The Knights have rebounded after opening week losses to third-ranked (1A) St. Ansgar and No. 2 (1A) St. Edmond.
And in 8-man, third-rated Newell-Fonda (4-0, 2-0) and Laurens-Marathon (4-0, 2-0) will collide in Laurens to determine the early favorite in the district.
Here's a closer look at those games, and the rest of the Messengerland action for this evening.
Algona (2-2, 1-1) at Webster City (3-1, 2-0)
The Bulldogs and Lynx are familiar with one another, as the two are North Central Conference rivals in every other sport.
Algona has leaned on the rushing attack of Sawyer Frideres, Mitchell Erpelding and Tyler Frideres, as the trio have combined for over 400 yards.
Last week, the Bulldogs were defeated by Humboldt, 35-6. That came on the heels of a 34-7 victory over Waverly-Shell Rock, which defeated Class 4A program Mason City earlier this year.
Algona has also defeated Estherville-LC, 42-13, while falling to Forest City, 29-0.
Webster City racked up some impressive stats last year behind the likes of Jonny Davis and Keegan Parks, but those two are gone. Now, legendary head coach Bob Howard has plugged in new players and the Lynx have responded, winning their last year, including two straight on the road.
Junior Connor Larson has ran for 431 yards, while classmate Alex Oswald has contributed another 313. Oswald, who replaced Davis at quarterback, is also completing 53-percent of his passes for 369 yards and four scores.
Algona's secondary must find Ben Mossman at all times, as the junior has 10 catches for 197 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Clarion-Goldfield (4-0, 2-0) at Forest City (3-1, 1-1)
The Cowboys marched deep into the postseason a year ago, and have carried that momentum into 2012.
A pair of three-point wins at home have been sandwiched around 62-39 and 40-26 triumphs on the road.
Senior Jake Haberman is well on his way to a 1,000-yard campaign, rushing for 551 yards and nine scores through four weeks. Matt Odland, another senior, has 372 yards and sophomore Trenton Sann has ran for 325.
Haberman is coming off a career-high 232 yards rushing on 32 carries and three scores in a convincing win over Estherville-LC last Friday.
As usual, Cowboy head coach Paul Hansch has the defense locked and loaded. Colton Warnke has 40 tackles, while the unit as a whole has forced six turnovers.
Forest City dropped a 17-0 decision to No. 2 (2A) Spirit Lake, but rebounded with a win over East Sac County last Friday.
Colton Westerberg and Tate Thompson are the primary offensive weapons for the Indians. The two share the load on offense, rushing for over 400 yards this year.
Clarion-Goldfield defeated Forest City twice last season, earning 27-10 and 44-29 victories on the road. The Cowboys ran for over 600 yards in the two games.
No. 6 (1A) Emmetsburg (3-1) at Manson Northwest Webster (2-2)
For a week, the E-Hawks and Cougars will step out of district play and compete, as Emmetsburg travels to Manson.
The E-Hawks have scored 131 points over the past two weeks since a loss to top-ranked (2A) Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley. That includes a 72-13 pasting of Okoboji last Friday.
Seven different players scored touchdowns in the win over Okoboji, and the team ran for 598 yards.
Senior Andrew Wellik has helped replace those lost to graduation, rushing for 746 yards on the season. Junior Allen Jensen, junior Brady Christensen, senior Jake Jackson and senior Mitch Petersen have each ran for over 100 yards, as well.
The vaunted Emmetsburg defense is led by Austin McCartan, who has 35 tackles. They have forced 13 turnovers, including four interceptions by Jackson, who is also the starting quarterback.
For the second consecutive week, the Cougars will be playing a ranked team. Last Friday, Manson NW was unable to hold off No. 9 (1A) IKM-Manning, falling 20-16. That snapped a two-game win streak for head coach Jeff Anliker's crew.
Sophomore Alex Bush has passed for 606 yards, completing 44 of 79 attempts and throwing six touchdowns. Senior Brody Eischeid is his favorite target, hauling in 22 receptions for 288 yards.
Hudson Spedding, a junior, has eight grabs for 102 yards, while Josh Markert, Caleb Wubben, Brennan Thompson, Payton Rice and Holden Fiedler all have receptions, as well.
The E-Hawks scored a 42-13 victory over the Cougars in the postseason last year, as they ran for 290 yards. Manson NW was limited to just 188 yards of total offense in the loss.
Prairie Valley (3-1, 2-0) at Mason City Newman (2-2, 2-0)
The Warriors have not let a setback to Manson Northwest Webster keep them down, winning their last two games, including a 54-14 victory over Southeast Webster-Grand last week.
Prairie Valley's Mason Gordon ran for 219 yards on 22 carries, scoring six touchdowns to lead the way. Gordon now has 486 yards on just 81 totes and nine TDs.
Austin Promes has ran for 265 yards, while sophomore Ryan True completed four passes for 70 yards in the win over the Eagles.
Cole Black leds the Warrior defense with three interceptions, while Clayton Taylor has 40 tackles and three sacks. Matt Streit also has five sacks.
The Knights might have had one of the toughest schedules in the state, opening with No. 3 (1A) St. Ansgar and second-rated (1A) St. Edmond. Since those defeats, Newman has reeled off back-to-back wins over Belmond-Klemme and Lake Mills.
Junior Joseph Burgmeier is the offensive leader for the Knights, having ran for 604 yards and six scores. He is also a defensive leader for Newman, which advanced to the state semifinals last year.
No. 3 (8-man) Newell-Fonda (4-0, 2-0) at Laurens-Marathon (4-0, 2-0)
The scoreboard operators will be in for a busy night in Laurens, as these two high-powered offenses collide.
Newell-Fonda has scored 218 points, including 56 last week and 69 earlier this year.
Senior Jonathan Johnson has taken over as the main offensive threat, rushing for 689 yards on 55 carries and 11 touchdowns. Zak Sievers, Brady Bohe and Rigo Johnson have combined for another 525 yards and 10 TDs.
While the ground threat is one of the best, Sievers is also a capable quarterback. The senior has completed 16 of 29 for 312 yards and five touchdowns. His main target has been Dalton Anderson, who has four grabs for 96 yards.
Despite the loss of some key players, the Chargers enter with a perfect record.
Matt Cleveland and Collin Lind have shouldered the offensive load. The team has scored 50 points twice this season.
Newell-Fonda earned a 40-12 victory last year at Laurens, as Jonathan Johnson and Rigo Johnson both went over 100 yards.
Other area games: Clear Lake (3-1, 1-0) at Humboldt (1-3, 1-1); East Sac County (0-4, 0-2) at Garner-Hayfield (1-3, 0-1); Estherville-LC (1-3, 1-1) at South Central Calhoun (2-2, 0-1); Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto (3-1, 0-1) at Pocahontas Area (2-2, 0-2); Eagle Grove (0-4, 0-2) at Hudson (2-2, 1-1); No. 5 (A) West Hancock (3-1, 2-0) at Bishop Garrigan (2-2, 1-1); AGWSR (3-2, 0-2) at Southeast Webster-Grand (2-2, 0-2); Corwith-CWL (2-3, 1-1) at Northeast Hamilton (1-3, 0-2); North Iowa (3-1, 1-1) at West Bend-Mallard (4-1, 2-0).