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Area squads target big picture

Prep Spotlight: Week 8

October 12, 2012
By DANA BECKER - Messenger Sports Writer ( , Messenger News

The playoff fever hits another degree on the thermostat tonight, as area teams move closer to the postseason.

Just two weeks remain to sew up bids, as elusive playoff berths remain on the line.

While some teams can more or less pencil themselves into one of the 32 spots available in their respective classes, several others know they need to continue accumulating wins through the rest of the month.

Also, there's the opportunity to lock up a home postseason matchup.

We start in Humboldt, as the Wildcats entertain Class 3A district rival Webster City. The Lynx are looking at a potential must-win situation following two consecutive losses.

Humboldt remains tied with Clear Lake and Iowa Falls-Alden at 3-1 in the District 3 race.

Third-ranked (1A) Emmetsburg will host fellow district unbeaten South O'Brien. Both schools are headed for the postseason, but the winner can take a big step toward clinching the league title with a win.

Prairie Valley plays in one of the top A districts in the state, with defending state runner-up West Hancock and state semifinalist Mason City Newman each calling District 2 home. Tonight, the Warriors host the fourth-ranked Eagles in a key contest.

Fresh off a 98-point performance last week, West Bend-Mallard will travel to Laurens-Marathon in hopes of keeping alive a possible district title or runner-up finish.

Here's a closer look at those games this evening:

WEBSTER CITY (4-3, 3-2) at HUMBOLDT (4-3, 3-1)

After starting the year 4-1, the Lynx find themselves needing to quickly right the ship in order to keep playoff hopes alive.

Webster City has been outscored 48-15 in losses to Clear Lake and Waverly-Shell Rock, sending them down the district pecking order. Now they hit the road for a second consecutive week.

If the Lynx are to get back on track, they might be forced to do so without junior quarterback Alex Oswald. The signal-caller left last Friday's game after suffering an injury in the third quarter. He has over 1,000 yards of total offense on the year.

Trey Tesdahl took over, completing one pass for 20 yards and rushing for another 33. Connor Larson will also be needed, as the junior has been held in check since a 111-yard performance vs. Algona three weeks ago.

Humboldt looks for a fifth straight win at home after back-to-back road victories vs. Waverly-Shell Rock and LeMars.

Sophomore tailback Brady Ross has posted consecutive 100-yard games, including a 41-carry, 195-yard, 2-touchdown performance last Friday. Ross now has 824 yards on the year and 13 scores.

However, opposing defenses cannot just stuff the box to stop the Wildcats. Senior Ben Jacobson is completing 48-percent of his passes for 810 yards and six TDs. Tyler Zaugg (18 receptions, 270 yards) and Garrett Nelson (15-169) are his main targets.

Humboldt is currently tied with Clear Lake and Iowa Falls-Alden at 3-1 in the district. The Wildcats lost to the Cadets back in Week 3, but defeated the Lions during Week 5. Clear Lake and Iowa Falls-Alden collide tonight in Iowa Falls.

SOUTH O'BRIEN (6-1, 4-0) at No. 3 (1A) EMMETSBURG (6-1, 4-0)

Not much has changed for the E-Hawks, as they continue to roll toward a state-record 37th playoff appearance.

Emmetsburg has not scored less than 40 points in any game this year outside of its loss to Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, and it has allowed just seven over the past two weeks.

Senior Andrew Wellik has 149 carries for 1,570 yards and 22 touchdowns, averaging 10.5 yards per carry on the year. After splitting duty last year, Wellik has been the main offensive weapon for Emmetsburg, as the next closest E-Hawk has just 37 totes.

In the last three Fridays alone, Wellik has ran for 824 yards, including three consecutive games of at least 200 yards. He also has 10 touchdowns in that span.

South O'Brien is the only other district team without a loss, as they have won three straight since a loss to Sioux Center. The Wolverines have outscored their opposition, 127-21 during the course of their win streak.

Zach Nieman leads the South O'Brien offense with 110 carries for 811 yards and 11 TDs, while Matt DeVos has 14 catches for 283 yards (20.2 yards per catch) and five scores from the arm of Kody Nelson (28-54, 480, 6 TDs).

No. 4 (A) WEST HANCOCK (6-1, 5-0) at PRAIRIE VALLEY (5-2, 4-1)

The Warriors will have the home-field advantage when fourth-ranked West Hancock comes to town, and they will need it.

After making a run to the state finals a year ago, the Eagles have not missed a beat, winning five consecutive since a 14-12 loss to eighth-ranked (1A) St. Ansgar in Week 2.

West Hancock has scored at least 40 points four times, including in recent wins over Lake Mills (40-14) and Southeast Webster-Grand (42-6).

Chris Schleluger, who has eclipsed 100 yards in every game this year, has likely gained the attention of the Prairie Valley coaching staff all week, as the senior has 1,273 yards and 19 scores this year. That includes a 310-yard, 4-TD showing two weeks ago.

The Warriors counter with the duo of Mason Gordon and Austin Promes. Gordon (903 yards, 12 TDs) and Promes (546, 5) have become a strong tandem, as both went over 100 yards last week.

Gordon, a 165-pound senior, has three 100-yard and two 200-yard games on the year.


Last week, the Wolverines scored 98 points - the third-most ever in an eight-man game - over CAL. Six different players rushed in touchdowns, and the West Bend-Mallard defense caused six turnovers.

It's been a year of balance for the Wolverines, as Jesse Zinnel, Jordon Buhs, Nathan Grimm, Ashton Fehr and Davey Jergens all have at least 30 carries, 200 yards and three touchdowns. Zinnel leads the team with 80 totes for 465 yards and seven scores.

Zinnel has also completed 51-percent of his passes for 928 yards and nine scores, including 29 passes and 550 yards to his twin brother, Jason.

Matt Cleveland can match Zinnel in both passing and running, as the senior leads the Chargers. Cleveland is 31-for-62 for 498 yards and 11 touchdowns, throwing just four interceptions. He also has 102 carries, 547 yards and seven scores - which are second to Collin Lind's 10.

The district continues to be led by No. 1 Newell-Fonda, while 10th-ranked North Iowa is also 4-1 on the year. The Wolverines face the Mustangs next week, and the Bison travel to Laurens-Marathon.

Other area games: Spencer (4-3) at Algona (3-4); Clarion-Goldfield (4-3, 2-3) at East Sac County 1-6, 0-4); No. 5 (2A) Spirit Lake (6-1, 4-0) at South Central Calhoun (3-4, 1-3); North Union (1-6, 0-4) at Hartley-HMS (4-3, 2-3); Manson Northwest Webster (3-4, 2-2) at Maple Valley-AO (3-4, 0-4); Pocahontas Area (4-3, 1-3) at No. 4 (1A) IKM-Manning (7-0, 4-0); South Hamilton (4-3, 1-3) at Eagle Grove (0-7, 0-5); Bishop Garrigan (3-4, 2-3) at Belmond-Klemme (2-5, 0-5); Southeast Webster-Grand (2-5, 0-5) at Mason City Newman (5-2, 5-0); CAL (0-7, 0-5) at No. 1 (8-man) Newell-Fonda (7-0, 5-0); Corwith-CWL (3-5, 2-3) at No. 10 (8-man) North Iowa (6-1, 4-1).