As we enter Week 8 of the prep football season, several district titles still hang in the balance - while some could be sealed this evening.
Playoff berths and postseason seedings are also on the minds of coaches around the state.
South Central Calhoun hits the road to take on eighth-ranked (Class 2A) Spirit Lake. Both are unbeaten in district play, and the winner of this will likely take home the crown.
North Central Conference rivals Humboldt and Webster City collide in a key district tilt, as both are still jockeying for better positioning and a potential home playoff contest.
Emmetsburg can clinch another district title with a win at South O'Brien, while a pair of ranked 8-man teams in No. 3 Newell-Fonda and fourth-rated West Bend-Mallard each try to pass one final test before a huge meeting next Friday.
Here is a look at the pivotal games around the area this evening:
S. Central Calhoun (4-3, 4-0) at No. 8 (2A) Spirit Lake (6-1, 4-0)
The Titans are used to the underdog role this year, having competed against bigger schools with lofty rankings already.
Now, South Central Calhoun gets the top dog in District 2 in the Indians, who have scored over 40 points four times this year.
Junior Alec Henrickson is completing 52 percent of his passes for 1,430 yards and 13 touchdowns. Classmate Austin Folsom is his top target, hauling in 19 catches for 453 yards, while Trevor Jensen has 25 for 348.
Spirit Lake is dominated by its junior class, as Josh Hofstra is the leading rusher with 479 yards and seven scores.
The Titans are paced by Jake Petzenhauser. The senior has 766 yards passing and a team-high 250 rushing.
In usual SCC form under head coach Bryan Case, the defense has led to the late-season surge. Since allowing 49 points to rop-ranked (2A) Carroll Kuemper last month, the Titans have surrendered just 26 in three straight wins.
These two teams should finish in the top two district spots, but a win will clinch the title for that squad.
Humboldt (5-2, 2-2) at Webster City (6-1, 4-1)
The Wildcats survived last week, rallying to defeat non-district foe LeMars.
Now, a key contest awaits in long-time rival Webster City.
Jaxon Heinz and Brady Ross are the focal points to the Humboldt offense. Heinz has passed for 610 yards, while Ross has rushed for just 1,100 and scored 15 times.
The Lynx counter with Trey Tesdahl and Connor Larson, as Tesdahl has just under 500 yards through the air and Larson has ran for over 1,000.
Tesdahl suffered a broken finger, however, and will be out of action. Alex Oswald will replace him in the backfield.
Clear Lake is the clear-cut leader in District 3, having handed both Humboldt and Webster City defeats. The 'Cats, though, also lost to Waverly-Shell Rock - an opponent the Lynx rallied to defeat last week.
With a win, the Lynx would all but secure the runner-up slot and a first-round home playoff game in the process, where they are 4-0 in 2013.
Emmetsburg (4-3, 4-0) at South O'Brien (6-1, 3-1)
After a 2-3 start, the E-Hawks have found their stride, defeating Hull Western Christian and Hartley-HMS - a pair of perennial playoff contenders.
Emmetsburg graduated several key players from a year ago, but they have found new faces to step up.
Senior Allen Jensen has 838 yards on the ground and 13 scores.
As usual, the defense is tough, led by Greg Wesley. Emmetsburg has forced 12 turnovers and allowed just 16 points the last two weeks - and only 35 over the last four.
Since a six-point loss to LeMars Gehlen, South O'Brien has posted four consecutive victories, including two straight on the road.
That stout E-Hawk defense will be put to the test by senior Zach Nieman, who has rushed for 1,440 yards and 21 TDs this year.
No. 3 (8-man) Newell-Fonda (7-0, 5-0) at CAL (0-7, 0-5); Laurens-Marathon (3-4, 2-3) at (No. 4) West Bend-Mallard (8-0, 5-0)
The Mustangs and Wolverines meet next week in an 8-man showdown.
First, though, they must each get past district foes tonight to keep the top-billing intact.
Newell-Fonda is led by Brady Bohe, who has rushed for 1,340 yards on just 135 carries this year. That puts him just under 10 yards per carry, and he has scored 22 times.
Gabe Podraza has filled in nicely for the departed Zak Sievers, completing 59 percent of his throws for 418 yards while also rushing for over 400 more.
For West Bend-Mallard, it's been a by-committee approach. Davey Jergens has over 600 yards, while Jesse Zinnel and Jordan Buhs have over 350 each. All three average over six yards per carry and have scored a combined 32 touchdowns on the ground.
Both have had little trouble with the opposition this year, so expect another pair of high-scoring games setting up the big showdown.
Next Friday's contest takes place in Newell.
Other area games: Algona (2-5) at No. 8 (3A) Spencer (6-1); East Sac County (2-5, 1-3) at Clarion-Goldfield (2-5, 1-4); IKM-Manning (3-4, 1-3) at Pocahontas Area (1-6, 1-3); Maple Valley-Anthon Oto (2-5, 1-4) at Manson Northwest Webster (5-2, 2-2); Eagle Grove (0-7, 0-5) at South Hamilton (5-2, 3-1); Belmond-Klemme (4-3, 2-3) at No. 9 (A) Bishop Garrigan (5-2, 4-1); Prairie Valley (5-3, 4-1) at West Hancock (0-7, 0-5); Mason City Newman (2-5, 2-3) at Southeast Webster-Grand (2-5, 1-4).