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Area football preview: Finding something to play for

With much of the area’s football teams eliminated from playoff contention, with Southwest Valley and Lenox the exceptions, area teams are trying to find something to fuel them through the end of the season.

Lenox at Bedford

BEDFORD — Coming off a loss to Stanton, which remains undefeated in 8-player District 6 play, the Lenox Tigers have had little time to catch their breath.

Week eight presents a challenge in Bedford, at 5-2, who also has yet to lose a district game.

Lenox travels to Bedford, which defeated it 20-12 a year ago, with gametime set for 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs enter after having defeated East Union in Afton 28-8, with Cooper Nally having run for 192 yards and four touchdowns. Nally has thrown for 856 yards and ran for 305 this fall. Six Bulldogs have at least 100 yards rushing.

Lenox was riddled by penalty mistakes and an inability to stop Stanton on fourth down.

Brenden Christensen came up with a fumble recovery on Lenox’s lone takeaway last week. Causing the ball to hit the grass several times will likely be important for Lenox against a Bedford team that controls the ball for large portions of the game.

Colton Gordon led a rushing attack against Stanton that piled up 240 yards, as he had 128 of those yards with a rushing score and a 57-yard kickoff return for a score.

In order to have success on the ground, Lenox will have to strategize to get past Chad McMillin, who has 16 solo tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

East Union at Lamoni

LAMONI — East Union enters week eight trying to get itself out of a rut.

With the postseason now out of reach, the Eagles will be playing for pride, and to show that the start of the season, weeks one through three, was more indicative of the program they are.

Lamoni (4-2, 2-2) will host EU (3-4, 1-3) at Graceland University’s Huntsman Field Friday at 7 p.m., having won its last two games, 36-30 over Wayne and 50-14 over Murray.

Demons freshman quarterback Cael Ogier connected with receiver Stephen Ansong three times for 113 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Murray.

Ogier threw five passing touchdowns in all, going 7 of 13 passing for 165 yards, but did throw three interceptions.

Bryce Allie had been Lamoni’s starting quarterback coming into the week.

The EU defense will look to slow Demons backs Luke Jones and Riley Schwab, both of whom have 300-plus yards on the ground.

The Eagles surrendered 192 yards and four touchdowns on the ground alone in their 28-8 loss to Bedford last week.

Tackling and limiting explosive plays will be huge for the Eagle defense, which features six players with at least 30 tackles. Joshua Hardy and Kole Seales are both among the top 15 tacklers in the district.

The Eagle pass rush could be important, and Colton Abell leads EU with five sacks.

Murray at Wayne

CORYDON — Murray plays its final game of the season this Friday at Wayne (3-4, 1-3) coming off a 50-14 Senior Night loss to Lamoni.

Murray (0-7, 0-4) turned the ball over three times. The Mustangs continue to try to fix turnover troubles that have plagued the young team.

The Falcons are coming off a 54-0 win over Collins-Maxwell, in which Chase Keifer ran for 211 rushing yards on 12 carries for four touchdowns. Keifer now has bullied and sprinted his way to 1,339 rushing yards and 18 rushing scores this season, both tops in 8-player District 6.

Keifer has a nose for the ball on defense too, with three fumble recoveries to go with his 41.5 tackles.

Nodaway Valley at Earlham

EARHALM — After Nodaway Valley’s first win in over a year, a new breath of fresh air was drawn in by the program last week. They’re ready to go up against a 4-3 Earlham program fresh off the Cardinals 56-8 win over Griswold.

The Wolverines’ win came against Southeast Warren, 12-6.

“I give all the props to them. They could have lied down a long time ago,” coach Steve Shantz said. “I thought up front, I thought we played a lot more physical than we have all year and the defense came up with big plays.”

That included a pick-6 by Hunter Ernst, who also hauled in a passing touchdown.

Thomas Britten and Austin Wilson will look to lead the NV (1-6, 1-5) defense coming into week eight.

The Wolverines bent, but did not break, as Southeast Warren totalled 224 yards compared to Nodaway Valley’s 194.

Earlham’s offense, which averages 297.6 rushing yards per game, will be much more difficult to slow.

Southwest Valley at Southeast Warren

LIBERTY CENTER — With two programs heading in different directions after last week, Class A second-ranked Southwest Valley is facing a program stuck in a patch or poor play.

But the Timberwolves are taking to the road to face a Warhawks bunch that is likely to be fired up after a loss to previously winless Nodaway Valley.

Warhawks quarterback Colby Page has thrown for 714 yards this season. The Warhawks have incurred some harsh injury losses, and may be without several important players.

Southwest Valley’s defense is surrendering just 5.0 points per game, and looks to finish off an undefeated regular season and lock up a high playoff seed to secure home field advantage.

Des Moines Christian at Mount Ayr

MOUNT AYR — The Mount Ayr Raiders’ final chance in 2017 to secure a victory on the school’s new turf field will be Friday against winless Des Moines Christian.

After hosting Des Moines Christian (0-7 overall, 0-5 Class 1A District 5), the Raiders (2-5, 1-4) finish the 2017 season at Interstate 35, which now stands 5-2 and 3-2.

This is the final game at Raider Stadium for 16 Mount Ayr seniors. This group has an overall record of 28-14, including state semifinal appearances their freshman and sophomore years.

Des Moines Christian has been among the state leaders in passing statistics for several years. The Lions have improved the past two games when sophomore quarterback Jackson Waring gained his eligibility after transferring from Johnston. Waring has completed 26 of 47 passes for 255 yards and has also carried 43 times for 90 yards.

The Raiders won last year’s matchup with the Lions, 49-28.

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