The final Football Friday in September is here, as just three weeks remain in the regular season.
For many teams, the prospects of competing in the playoffs is looking bright. For others, there is still work to be done.
Every district race remains up for grabs, but several of those battles could begin to clear up this evening.
In Webster City, the surprising Lynx squad will face rival Clear Lake. Webster City, behind the legendary coaching of Bob Howard, has won four consecutive games. The Lions, meanwhile, are coming off a loss to Humboldt last Friday.
Sixth-ranked (Class 1A) Emmetsburg will step back into district play after taking a week off, hosting fellow district unbeaten Hull Western Christian. The E-Hawks, perennial state contenders, are slated to face stiff challenges over the final few weeks, meeting Hartley-HMS and South O'Brien.
Newell-Fonda will play its first game as the No. 1 team in 8-man, hosting Graettinger-Terril. The Mustangs took over the top spot from Adair-Casey, which lost last Friday night.
Also, a pair of Newell-Fonda's district rivals meet in Corwith, as West Bend-Mallard and Corwith-CWL each search for their fourth win of the season.
Here's a look at those games, along with the rest of tonight's action from across Messengerland:
CLEAR LAKE (3-2, 1-1) at WEBSTER CITY (4-1, 3-0)
While not as flashy as last year, the Lynx are still finding plenty of success on the gridiron.
Webster City will seek its fifth consecutive victory tonight against Clear Lake. Last year, the homestanding Lions claimed a victory over the Lynx, 28-27.
Alex Oswald has replaced Jonny Davis and kept the Bob Howard offense running. Oswald, a junior, has completed 24 passes for 431 yards, while also rushing for 397. He has 10 total touchdowns.
Connor Larson is the leading rusher, having racked up 542 yards on 80 carries and eight scores. Trey Tesdahl has provided a third option, rushing for 222 yards.
Since a Week 1 loss to Ballard, Webster City has toppled Gilbert, Charles City, Iowa Falls-Alden and Algona.
Clear Lake was defeated last Friday by Humboldt, 26-10. The Lions also lost to Forest City earlier this year, but own a 34-7 victory over 4A Mason City.
Sophomore Brock Adams is completing almost 70 percent of his passes for 344 yards, while Cody Maulsby has ran for 390 yards.
Adams is the brother of Ozzie Adams, who had a career night last year vs. the Lynx. Ozzie ran for 243 yards and three scores, and passed for another 66 and a score. He has graduated, leaving Brock in charge of the offense.
Clear Lake sports a district record of 81-5 since the 2000 season, and has not lost back-to-back district games since 1997. Lion head coach Fred Wieck is 15-5 all-time vs. the Lynx, including 13 consecutive wins.
HULL WESTERN CHRISTIAN (2-3, 2-0) at No. 6 (1A) EMMETSBURG (4-1, 2-0)
The E-Hawks have been on a mission since a Week 2 defeat vs. No. 1 (2A) Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, outscoring their last three opponents 174-40.
Andrew Wellik, a senior, ran for 348 yards and four scores last week, pushing his season total to 1,094 yards and 16 touchdowns. After sharing the load last year, Wellik has been the main focus of the vaunted Emmetsburg offense.
Austin McCartan, Jake Jackson, Mitch Petersen and Nick Schany lead a defense that has forced 15 turnovers. Jackson has five interceptions on the year.
Jackson will likely have plenty of chances to add to that total, as Hull Western Christian prefers to throw the ball around the field.
Junior Daniel VanMaanen has completed 49 of 94 for 647 yards, including seven picks. His top target is senior Jordan VanMaanen, who has 16 catches for 208 yards. Ethan Fenchel and Jeffery Granstra also have double-digit catch totals.
Since opening with three straight losses, Hull Western Christian has won two straight, defeating Armstrong-Ringsted and Hartley-HMS.
GRAETTINGER-TERRIL (1-4, 1-2) at No. 1 (8-man) NEWELL-FONDA (5-0, 3-0)
The Mustangs reached the top spot in 8-man this week after a 35-14 victory over previously-undefeated Laurens-Marathon. Now, Newell-Fonda must show to the rest of the state they deserve to be there.
First up will be Graettinger-Terril for Jonathan Johnson and company. Johnson, a senior, went over the 100-yard mark against last week, rushing for 115 and three scores. He has eclipsed that total four times this year, compiling 804 yards on just 76 carries and 14 touchdowns.
Zak Sievers is completing 55-percent of his throws, passing for 363 yards.
Newell-Fonda's defense has been just as good, led by Rigo Johnson's seven fumble recoveries. The Mustangs have forced 21 turnovers on the year.
Carter Williamson and Blaze Alesch will try to break that unit for Graettinger-Terril. The two have combined for over 500 yards on the ground.
WEST BEND-MALLARD (3-3, 2-1) at CORWITH-CWL (3-3, 2-1)
The winner in Corwith can make a strong push toward a potential playoff berth.
Both the Wolverines and Panthers are sitting behind Newell-Fonda in the district race. They are tied with two other schools at 2-1, meaning the winner will be able to keep pace, while the loser drops down the ladder.
West Bend-Mallard quarterback Jesse Zinnel has passed for 630 yards and ran for another 302. Classmate Jordan Buhs has a team-high 349 yards rushing, while Nathan Grimm sits at 297.
Grimm leads the Wolverine defense with 61 stops, while Jason Zinnel has four fumble recoveries.
Preston Jensen is the main offensive threat for the Panthers, having rushed for 554 yards. Sam Ludwig is completing 64-percent of his passes for 208 yards.
Other area games: Charles City (0-5, 0-2) at Algona (2-3, 1-2); Humboldt (2-3, 2-1) at Waverly-Shell Rock (2-3, 0-2); Garner-Hayfield (2-3, 1-1) at Clarion-Goldfield (4-1, 2-1); South Central Calhoun (3-2, 1-1) at Forest City (4-1, 2-1); No. 5 (2A) Spirit Lake (4-1, 2-0) at East Sac County (0-5, 0-3); Manson Northwest Webster (2-3, 1-1) at Sioux Central (2-3, 1-2); Pocahontas Area (3-2) at North Union (1-4); West Fork (1-4, 0-2) at Eagle Grove (0-5, 0-3); Belmond-Klemme (2-3, 0-3) at Prairie Valley (3-2, 2-1); Bishop Garrigan (2-3, 1-2) at Southeast Webster-Grand (2-3, 0-3); Laurens-Marathon (4-1, 2-1) at CAL (0-5, 0-3); Northeast Hamilton (1-4, 0-3) at North Iowa (4-1, 2-1)