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Week 3 football preview: Class 1A No. 9 Mount Ayr looks to roll, Murray battles for first win

Hunter Ernst reaches out for the catch during Nodaway Valley's season opener against Central Decatur.
Hunter Ernst reaches out for the catch during Nodaway Valley's season opener against Central Decatur.

ACGC vs. Nodaway Valley

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. Greenfield

RECORDS: ACGC 2-0, Nodaway Valley 2-1

LAST MATCHUP (2018): ACGC 14, Nodaway Valley 8

OVERVIEW: The Wolverines pulled off a huge 40-21 win over Clarke last weekend, picking up their first win on their home field since 2017. Now that its rebounded from its first loss of the season and made a statement in front of its home fans, Nodaway Valley takes on an ACGC team that rushed for 326 yards last week.

ACGC's identity is similar to Clarke's. A healthy mix of the run game with a very limited passing attack. ACGC has passed the ball twice this season, both attempts coming last week, and have had four 100-plus yard rushers this season. If Nodaway Valley can be back on its game Friday night and stop the ball as effectively as it did the week prior, it will be in line for a successful night. The defense however is not endgame in the matchup.

Nodaway Valley's Nathan Russell passed for 300 yards or more in both wins this season and Tony Ayase has been a big help in keeping defenses on its toes, as well. ACGC hasn't seen a pass attack paired with a quality run game yet this season and hasn't done especially well in keeping points off the board (21 and 33) in last two weeks.

ACGC PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kolby Jacobe and Gavin Cornelison have more than 260 yards rushing and a collective eight touchdowns. They also have a combined 86 touches. They Wolverines' defense is going to get very familiar with them Friday night.

NODAWAY VALLEY PLAYERS TO WATCH: The connection of Russell to receiver Hunter Ernst has produced four touchdowns and 286 yards on 13 catches this season. Ernst has run off for the longest touchdown catch of the season this year (75 yards), so look for him to want the deep ball again. On defence, Austin Wilson and Clay Hohertz are leading District A-9 in tackling and have been disruptive through all four quarters in each game. They'll all be huge Friday.

Central Decatur vs. Mount Ayr

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Mount Ayr

RECORDS: Central Decatur 1-2; Mount Ayr 2-0

LAST MATCHUP (2018): Mount Ayr 20, Central Decatur 12

OVERVIEW: Class 1A No. 9Mount Ayr is coming off a 3-0 win against Interstate 35 that ended on a game-winning field goal by Peyton Stull. While the Raiders didn't rack up many yards (223 on offense), Mount Ayr totalled 11 first downs against an Interstate 35 team that eliminated it in postseason play last season.

The Raiders had a fairly even balance in the rushing game this season, but with the leading rusher being Reas Knapp at 52 yards, there isn't an esablished front back in MA who can take 20-plus touches a night. Passing has not exceeded 130 yards in each of the last two games either. While the offense is still finding its groove, the defense is a big part of what has helped the Raiders get to 2-0.

The Raiders have tallied 10 solo sacks this season and 18 tackles for a loss. It's clear MA is good at not only getting to the quarterback but also to the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage, but the Raiders can also pick off some passes – intercepting three passes (Dawson Frost 2, Trae Ehlen 1). Central Decatur's offense, which exploded for a season-high 42 points last Friday, will need to have its head on a swivel to avoid getting tackled for a loss.

CENTRAL DECATUR PLAYERS TO WATCH: Haden Leymaster has been the guy to turn to for CD receivers. His 17 catches and 217 yards leads the team and his six touchdowns are the most, also. He's also added a special teams touchdown to his resumé. Look out for No. 24.

MOUNT AYR PLAYERS TO WATCH: It's hard to single one out on the Raiders defense, but leading tackler Reas Knapp will be someone to keep in mind Friday night. He has 15 1/2 tackles and three for a loss and is also the Raiders' leading rusher. He'll be busy Friday night.

Seymour vs. Lenox

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Lenox

RECORDS: Seymour 0-3; Lenox 3-0

LAST MATCHUP (2018): Lenox 55, Seymour 8

OVERVIEW: It's hard to ignore Lenox in 8-man right now. A 93-point shutout over Melcher-Dallas where the Tigers attempted one pass, a 57-yard score from Cullen Wood to Keegan Christensen, means this rushing offense and defense is in full swing and working well.

Seymour enters Friday losers of its last three, scoring at most 20 points in each game. The passing game is less than stellar as starting quarterback Brody Tuttle has a completion percentage of 36.6 percent. Seymour has two 100-plus yard rushers so, like Lenox, it seems the Warriors will utilize the run well.

With how Lenox has been working the last three weeks and Melcher-Dallas putting up 50 points on Seymour Aug. 30, it could be another high octane night for the Tigers' offense.

SEYMOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH: Mason Sulser currently leads Seymour in tackling (26 1/2) and rushing (130 yards). He'll be a big part of Seymour's game plan Friday.

LENOX PLAYERS TO WATCH: Caeden David, Conner Fitzgerald and Colton Gordon each had an interception last week. Andrew Kennan, Keigan Kitzman, Drew Venteicher and Jon Weaver each had a fumble recovery too. While it's easy to go on about the offense, these guys could repeat that performance Friday.

East Union vs. East Mills

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Malvern

RECORDS: East Union 1-1; East Mills 0-1

LAST MATCHUP (2018): East Mills 42, East Union 0

OVERVIEW: East Union is without much of its playmakers from the year prior, losing leading rushers Josh Hardy and Matt McGuire along with their leading passer in McGuire. a team that had two 600-plus yard runners and a quarterback under center who passed for over 1,000 yards were keys to its over .500 season, so it'll be interesting to see if backup quarterback Gus McNeill can assume the position and thrive as McGuire's successor, as well with Levi Exline at running back.

On defense East Union has lost its leading tackler but much of those with considerable numbers are back on the roster, which is a good sign for the Eagles. Plenty of juniors and seniors boast experience and knowledge of the game that is crucial for 8-man football.

East Mills is fresh off a 61-26 loss to Audubon where their quarterback racked up 370 yards through the air. EU's defense has to be ready to make a small field look smaller with eight men, because if given the open look quarterback Michael Schafer is going to find his man for the first down and possibly paydirt.

EAST UNION PLAYERS TO WATCH: Keep an eye out for Gus McNeill under center. He's the most experienced QB going off of statistics from the year prior, and will likely get a chance to hold the position through this season if he posts modest stats – which can set him up for a starting job in his senior year as well. Gauge Mitchell posted a very impressive 11 sacks and was second on the team in tackling last season. If he's out there, EU's gunning for a loss of yardage.

EAST MILLS PLAYERS TO WATCH: I'm hesitant to say this is an "air raid" high school offense, but the numbers point towards it. Michael Schafer posted 2003 yards through the air last season with a solid 28 touchdown to 10 interception line. On top of that, his QBR (quarterback rating) was 155.4 in 2018. Schafer is fresh off a game where he passed for 370 yards with four passing touchdowns. Nic Duysen hauled in 265 of those yards and three of the TDs, so it's safe to say who the favorite receiver is. Keep an eye on these two when they're in need of some clutch yards or a quick score.

Southwest Valley vs. West Central Valley

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Corning

RECORDS: West Central Valley 1-1; Southwest Valley 0-2

LAST MATCHUP (2018): Southwest Valley 20, West Central Valley 18

OVERVIEW: After watching the lead slip out of its hands last week against Central Decatur, Southwest Valley is setting itself for a rebound on the road against West Central Valley.

WCV does not have a win this season. It also doesn't have any points, losing opening night 78-0 to Des Moines Christian and losing last week to Earlham 70-0.

Southwest Valley should have no problem against a team that has won one game since the start of the 2018 season, a 62-12 final against then-winless Nodaway Valley.

WEST CENTRAL VALLEY PLAYERS TO WATCH: West Central Valley does not have any statistics posted.

SOUTHWEST VALLEY PLAYERS TO WATCH: Tallen Myers could have a career night against a struggling West Central Valley (team-leading 17 1/2 tackles), so expect some reserves to get some snaps and opportunities to make noise. Keep an eye out for pretty much everyone.

Lamoni vs. Murray

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Murray

RECORDS: Lamoni 1-1; Murray 0-2

LAST MATCHUP (2018): Lamoni 52, Murray 16

OVERVIEW: Murray struggled off its bye week, scoring eight points on a then-winless Collins-Maxwell. This week will be another mighty test for the Mustangs as they face a Lamoni team who's scored 56 and 46 in back-to-back weeks.

After feeding Chance Lecy the ball 23 times and Zack Belden 16 times, it appears the Mustangs may have found two leading runners in the backfield. Lecy's workload boasts primary back numbers (46 attempts, 178 yards) and with freshman quarterback Belden possibly still needing some more time to grow into the role, it looks like the Mustangs will rely on Lecy to get the chains moving each drive.

If Lamoni's 331 yards rushing and 133 yards passing last week carry over into Friday and Murray has things rolling its way, there could be a barn burner in Murray all four quarters.

LAMONI PLAYERS TO WATCH: Patrick Savage has 362 yards on 37 rushing attempts this season, nearly averaging 10 yards every time he touches the ball. His seven rushing touchdowns and team-leading 13 tackles will keep him in the mix for Lamoni.

MURRAY PLAYERS TO WATCH: Colton Siefkas' increased time at quarterback saw him have more passing attempts under center last week. With a young Belden struggling last week, Siefkas went 5-for-8 in relief. Don't be too surprised if we see either one out there in rotation.

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