Stakes increase for area programs

There will be plenty riding on games around the area Friday evening, as the postseason race begins to heat up.

With the change in the number of playoff qualifiers from a year ago, each and every contest from here on out will be of the utmost importance.

In Humboldt, the Wildcats welcome district leader and unbeaten Storm Lake. Sitting a half-game out at the moment, head coach Greg Thomas’ squad could really shake up Class 3A, District 1 with a win.

Webster City heads to Ballard for a meeting of 3-1, 1-1 squads, while Clarion-Goldfield/Dows/CAL looks to get back on track against second-ranked (Class 2A) New Hampton.

In Wall Lake, the Raiders welcome Southeast Valley in a battle of teams that have split their district games so far.

Here’s a look at the entire slate of area action tonight:

Storm Lake (4-0, 2-0) at Humboldt (2-2, 1-1)

In a district packed with perennial powers like Sioux City Heelan, Spirit Lake, Sergeant-Bluff Luton and Humboldt, the Tornadoes find themselves tied for the lead after four weeks.

Last Friday, Storm Lake claimed a 34-14 victory over Heelan, adding to convincing wins over Algona, Pocahontas Area and Cherokee to date. The program is 4-0 for the first time since 1977.

Michael Demers and Josh Werge are the leaders on offense for the Tornadoes, as Demers is completing almost 50 percent of his passes for 500 yards. Werge anchors the ground attack, averaging nine yards per carry.

Juniors Brandon Hoops and Kevin Duque lead a stout defense for Storm Lake, which pitched a shutout vs. Pocahontas Area.

Humboldt, meanwhile, is coming off a second big win, blasting Algona 45-14. In Week 2, the Wildcats downed Hampton-Dumont, 51-14.

Colton Monson had a career night against the Bulldogs, rushing 30 times for 159 yards with two touchdowns. Drew Thomas was 10 of 15 passing for 124 yards and two TDs, while adding 131 yards and two scores on the ground.

Humboldt racked up 547 yards of total offense in the win, as Thomas now sits at 841 yards of total offense on the season.

Webster City (3-1, 1-1) at Ballard (3-1, 1-1)

Week in and week out, the Lynx continue to hammer the ground game. Robert Fredriksen is averaging 10 yards per carry on the year, rushing 69 times for 690 yards.

Senior classmate Payton Kannuan is posting 11-plus yards per carry, while Drew Fielder, Trace Kepler and Zane Williams have all rushed for at least 150 yards.

As a team, the Lynx enter this week tied with Madrid for the top rushing total in the state with 1,645 yards, averaging 8.7 per carry.

Caleb Olson leads a defense that has allowed just 34 combined points in three wins this year.

Ballard is coming off a tough 16-14 setback to Dallas Center-Grimes a week ago after posting wins over Carlisle, Adel-ADM and Perry. The Bombers are led by Max Stoltz and Hunter Wright.

Stoltz, a senior quarterback, has 497 yards passing on 35 of 52 passes with eight touchdowns, and another 295 rushing. Wright, a junior, leads the team with 522 yards and seven scores.

The Webster City ‘D’ will need to keep an eye on Reece Huen and Austin Edwards. Huen has nine receptions for 164 yards, while Edwards is at six for 163. Both have three receiving scores.

Clarion-Goldfield/Dows/CAL (3-1, 1-1) at No. 2 (Class 2A) New Hampton (4-0, 2-0)

A 24-20 Cowboy loss to Crestwood last week prevented this match from being a Top-10 battle. Now, C-G/D/C is looking to pull an upset of its own.

This is a very critical stage in the season for the Cowboys, who play at New Hampton and then travel to Garner-Hayfield/Ventura next week.

The C-G/D/C offense was kept in-check by Crestwood, as Kainan Braun completed just 9 of 30 passes for 135 yards and rushed for only 80. Nathan Rapp was limited to 34 yards.

Entering this week, Braun has 531 yards passing with five scores, while adding 514 yards and eight rushing touchdowns to Rapp’s 273 and five scores.

The Chickasaws have scored double-digit wins in all but one game this year and have scored at least 21 in all four.

Senior Carter Stochl is completing 53 percent of his passes for 666 yards with seven TDs, but has been picked off six times. Keaton Geerts leads the ground crew with 304 yards, while Ryan Gorman has 12 catches for 292 yards, which comes out to over 24 yards per catch.

New Hampton has forced 14 turnovers, including eight interceptions, this year.

Southeast Valley (2-2, 1-1) at East Sac County (1-3, 1-1)

With three teams still 2-0 in the league, both the Jaguars and Raiders cannot afford another loss at this stage.

Southeast Valley picked up a much-needed 34-31 victory over Red Oak last Friday, snapping a two-game losing streak. Junior Kaleb Jondle rushed for 128 yards and a TD, while Nolan Brand had 182 yards passing, including 120 and two scores to Dakota Jaeschke.

Jondle and Aaron Swieter have formed a 1-2 punch in the backfield, as Jondle has 308 yards rushing on 51 carries and Swieter 131 on 40.

Brand is completing 55-percent of his throws for 873 yards with 11 touchdowns. Jaeschke ranks among the state leaders in with 12 catches for 420 yards and eight TDs. He is averaging 35 yards per reception.

Senior Sam Scott has taken control of the East Sac County offense, passing for 599 yards and running for a team-high 184. He has picked out Dylan Baumhover 20 times for 249 yards, while Konner Roth has 17 catches for 206 yards.

The Raiders were stopped by Underwood last Friday after winning their district opener vs. Red Oak, 29-6.

Last year, Southeast Valley claimed a 27-26 victory over East Sac County in Week 3. Jondle ran for 108 yards, Swieter 66 and Brand passed for 132.

Other area games tonight: Spirit Lake (3-1, 1-1) at Algona (0-4, 0-2); Iowa Falls-Alden (2-2, 0-2) at Greene County (0-4, 0-2); No. 4 (2A) Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (3-1, 1-1) at Pocahontas Area (0-4, 0-2); Clarinda (0-4, 0-2) at South Central Calhoun (3-1, 2-0); Okoboji (2-2, 0-2) at Emmetsburg (1-3, 1-1); Eagle Grove (1-3, 1-1) at Van Meter (4-0, 2-0); Manson Northwest Webster (2-2, 1-1) at West Central Valley (1-3, 0-2); No. 3 (A) Bishop Garrigan (4-0, 2-0) at MMCRU (1-3, 1-1); Hartley-HMS (0-4, 0-2) at North Union (1-3, 0-2); Newell-Fonda (3-1, 2-0) at Remsen St. Mary’s (3-1, 1-1); West Bend-Mallard (3-1, 1-1) at Clay Central-Everly (2-2, 1-1).