Creston/Orient-Macksburg seeks to slow down the speed of Bondurant-Farrar in a Class 3A non-district football game 7 p.m. Friday at Panther Stadium.
The Panthers (2-1 overall) will be facing the Bluejays (2-1) with new faces in key positions. Former quarterback Nyanti Gehrke, who ran for 148 yards and a touchdown in Bondurant-Farrar’s 21-13 win against Creston/O-M last season, is now under center at Dowling Catholic. Gehrke also threw for 78 yards and a TD versus the Panthers in 2018.
Cade Eichmeyer, who saw limited time in the Bluejays’ offense a year ago, has stepped into the signal-calling role.
“Their quarterback (Eichmeyer) runs the ball really well. I don’t know what position he played last year, but he’s a capable quarterback and a he’s really good runner,” Creston/O-M head coach Brian Morrison said.
Eichmeyer has rushed 27 times for 165 yards and three touchdowns in addition to completing 16 of 27 passes for 249 yards with two interceptions and a TD.
Christian Conn, who ran for 81 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers a year ago, graduated last spring. But lightning-fast Kaeden Lozano has been giving opposing defense headaches this fall.
“It’s just their speed,” Morrison said of the Bondurant-Farrar offense. “They have Kaeden Lozano, a slot receiver who they put in motion, who is their leading rusher with almost 500 yards in three games. He’s an explosive player, and I was impressed with him. Winterset and ADM, neither of those teams could contain him.”
Lozano has 448 yards and 10 TDs on 47 carries in 2019. Six of those touchdowns came in a 49-6 win last Friday at South Tama, when he gained 160 yards on the ground.
“(Lozano) is fast. He gets to the edge and he rounds the defense,” Morrison said. “Against Winterset, Lozano, by himself, would have won the game for Bondurant by a ton. They were able to run up-and-down the field, but what hurt them were penalties and turnovers in critical situations.”
Winterset escaped with a 36-35 win at Bondurant-Farrar Sept. 6.
In three games this season, five different Bluejays have intercepted at least one pass for a total of nine pickoffs overall. Oskar White and Cameron Meislahn lead that group with three interceptions apiece.
“Scheme-wise, they do good things, and they do different things that we haven’t seen, as far as what they do up front,” Morrison said. “They are a four-man front that can also become a five-man front. They move their guys round on the defensive line. We will definitely have our hands full.”
Top tackler Braden Miller has 22 stops and seven tackles for loss. Meislahn adds 15 1/2 stops and five tackles for loss while Cael Sykes (14 1/2 tackles) and Ty Beresford (11 1/2 tackles) are among Bondurant-Farrar’s top defenders.
Creston/O-M suffered its first loss of the season with a 36-21 defeat at Carlisle last Friday. The defeat knocked the previously-ranked No. 9 Panthers from The Des Moines Register Class 3A rankings.
Morrison said he feels good about the way the Panthers have responded.
“We definitely have a sense of urgency because our last game was a loss for us, but I like our game plan going into Bondurant,” Morrison said. “We have had a good week of practice. Our focus right now is improving as a football team on offense, defense and special teams. We need to make sure our kids have the best scheme to compete against Bondurant this Friday.”
Morrison said the Panthers must be aware of the situations they face.
“We need to focus on the details by being sure of the little things because, in football, they can turn into big things,” Morrison said. “We have to have
ºreceivers running the right routes, linemen are blocking the correct people, we’re making the correct checks on our coverages, we’re communicating in the secondary and you can go down the list. We have to play like it’s Week 8 in Week 4. We should be cleaning some things up, and hopefully we do that this week.”
Andy Mills (concussion protocol) is sidelined this week for the Panthers. Garin Wurster will take Mills’ spot at inside linebacker while Kaeden Bolton, back from injury, moves into a Wurster’s role at outside linebacker. Brodie Wallace will play at strong safety for Evan Bruce, who has a rib injury.