January 25, 2021

Area football preview: Lenox takes on rival Bedford, Wolverines' add new opponent after cancellation

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TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Lamoni

RECORDS: Murray (2-1), Lamoni (2-1)

LAST MATCHUP (2019): Lamoni 64, Murray 6

OVERVIEW: After a slow start in Week 1, Murray's offense has been on fire, scoring 72 and 60 points in consecutive weeks. This week, however, the Mustangs will face their toughest test against Lamoni, a team Murray has struggled with over the past few seasons.

Zack Belden has emerged as a key part of the offense, scoring 11 total touchdowns in the past two games for Murray. He has passed for 253 yards and rushed for 224. The rushing attack has been an important piece for the Mustangs, with multiple backs contributing.

Lamoni's been balanced on both sides, falling only to Martensdale-St Marys in a 64-46 shootout in Week 1. Through the next two games, the Demons allowed 12 total points while scoring 90 of their own. Lamoni has relied on the ground game, rushing 122 times while passing 39 times. Expect the Demons to keep up the rushing attack, as it's been their bread and butter.

Murray hasn't beat Lamoni since a 44-40 win in 2016. If the Mustangs are going to stay hot, they'll need another strong offensive performance, but the run defense stopping Lamoni's ground game is going to be the key factor.

MURRAY PLAYERS TO WATCH: Belden has been the main source of offense in the last two weeks, look for him to have another good game. Wyatt Gannon and Chance Lecy are the leading tacklers for the Mustangs. Murray will need those two to have a good game on the defensive side of the ball.

LAMONI PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cael Ogier and Logan Jones have been the go-to running backs for the Demons, rushing for a combined 418 of Lamoni's 542 yards on the ground. Ogier has also been the key receiver for quarterback Javin Evans' 326 passing yards.

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Jefferson

RECORDS: Nodaway Valley (1-3), Greene County (1-2)

LAST MATCHUP: First meeting

OVERVIEW: The Wolverines fifth game of the season was originally scheduled to be against Ogden, but a cancellation Monday evening gave Nodaway Valley a new opponent. The Wolverines are on a two-game losing streak and lost a lead late against Madrid last week to fall to 0-1 in Class A District 8 play.

Nodaway Valley struggled against strong Mount Ayr and Madrid offensive and defensive lines. The ability to pass the ball was a strength for the Wolverines early in the season, using the run game to set up passes. In the last two losses, Nodaway Valley has rushed for 61 combined yards.

Greene County is coming off back-to-back losses against South Central Calhoun and Atlantic. The Rams haven't been able to keep up with their opponents' offenses, struggling to stop either team's rushing attack. The Rams allowed over 200 yards on the ground in both games. The offense has been turnover prone, however, passing for three interceptions.

If Nodaway Valley can find a way to get the ball moving on the ground and take advantage of a takeaway or two, the Wolverines put themselves in a good position to get a much-needed win on the road.

NODAWAY VALLEY PLAYERS TO WATCH: Look for Tony and Adam Ayase to be options on the ground and in the passing game. Nate Russell has been good for the Wolverines, passing for 603 yards on 54 completions, but he must keep from giving the ball away. It hurt the Wolverines last week and could play another factor in Friday's game.

GREENE COUNTY PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bryce Stalder has passed for 400 yards, but only completes 45.5% of his passes. He's been prone to turnovers this season, so watch for Nodaway Valley's defensive backs to take advantage. Bradyn Smith and Jackson Morton are the leading tacklers for the Rams, racking up 20 1/2 tackles. Look for the defensive duo to make some noise.

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

RECORDS: Colfax-Mingo (0-3), Mount Ayr (2-1)

LAST MATCHUP (2015): Mount Ayr 42, Colfax-Mingo 20

OVERVIEW: Mount Ayr is coming off a one-score loss to another ranked opponent in a game the Raiders had a chance to win. Mount Ayr has relied heavily on the run game through the first part of the season, so expect the Raiders to keep things consistent.

Jaixen Frost, Mount Ayr's starting quarterback, returns after missing two weeks due to contact tracing with COVID-19. He looked like he would be an integral piece of the offense before being sidelined. Now, Payton Weehler can move back to receiver, giving Frost and the Raiders more versatility with the offensive attack.

The Tigerhawks' defense has struggled, averaging 54 points allowed in each game. The offense, similar to the defense, hasn't had a great start to 2020, scoring 38 points through three games and is coming off a shut out last week.

Mount Ayr has a chance to figure out what the offense can do with Frost back at quarterback against a struggling Colfax-Mingo defense. Look for the Raiders to get back to its scoring ways while playing stout defense.

COLFAX-MINGO PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jayden Horrach has been the most important piece to the Tigerhawks' offense, rushing for 282 yards on 65 carries. Colton Lind has been the primary quarterback, passing for 272 yards but has thrown for six interceptions. Look for the Raiders to take advantage of mistakes.

MOUNT AYR PLAYERS TO WATCH: Frost is back in action for Mount Ayr and hopes to give the offense more options in the backfield and on the outside. Look for Weehler and Trae Ehlen at receiver to become targets for Mount Ayr through the air.

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Lenox

RECORDS: Bedford (0-3), Lenox (3-0)

LAST MATCHUP (2019): Lenox 26, Bedford 8

OVERVIEW: Lenox hosts its rivalry week against Bedford as both teams have started off the season on opposite ends of the spectrum. Lenox is on fire, it's experienced a last-second win before back-to-back blowout victories. Bedford has had two blowout losses and is coming off a one-score loss last week.

Lenox has been solid on both sides of the ball, outscoring opponents 176-49. Lenox's three-headed offensive attack with Cullen Wood, Brad Larson and Isaac Grundman has worked wonderfully. Johnathan Weaver has been stellar on defense, leading the team with 23 tackles and 3 1/2 for a loss.

Bedford's offense put up 16 points in the first quarter last week but allowed Stanton to take the game in the second half. The offense moved the ball on the ground, rushing for 254 yards, with quarterback Tristen Cummings rushing for 124 and Eli Morris rushing for 132. Stanton's offense, however, was able to move the ball through the air, passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

Look for Lenox to take advantage of a Bedford team that struggled a week ago in the secondary. Wood has been very efficient this season, completing over 55% of his passing attempts while throwing for six touchdowns and two interceptions. Look for Keegan Christensen, the leading receiver with six catches for 180 yards, to be a solid target.

BEDFORD PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cummings and Morris had breakout games last week, rushing for the majority of their season yards against Stanton. Expect Bedford to use the duo more this week. The defense, however, is going to have to stop the high-powered Lenox offense. Carter DeMott lead the team with three sacks, he'll need a big day to keep Wood and the rushing attack down.

LENOX PLAYERS TO WATCH: The offense has been run-heavy through three weeks of the season. Larson and Grundman have proven to be extremely pivotal in the offense. Bedford struggled last week in the passing game. Wood has the potential to have a big game passing to Christensen and Larson.

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Council Bluffs

RECORDS: Southwest Valley (4-0), St. Albert (1-2)

LAST MATCHUP (2019): St. Albert 28, Southwest Valley 7

OVERVIEW: AP Class A No. 10 Southwest Valley is coming off a win over AHSTW, making it the Wolverines fourth win to start the season, remaining the only undefeated that started in Week 0 and making a claim as one of the top teams in Class A.

Southwest Valley's rushing attack has been aggressive all season, but not better than last week. The Timberwolves rushed for 338 yards. Five running backs carried the ball against the Vikings, contributing to four touchdowns on the ground. Two running backs went over 50 yards with Brendan Knapp breaking 100 yards.

St. Albert was one score short of a comeback win against Riverside a week ago. The Falcons have faced some tough competition, including a 28-3 loss to Class 3A No. 4 Lewis Central. The defense has been solid allowing no more than 28 points in a game this season, but has faced serious competition with Logan-Magnolia giving the Falcons issues as well.

This week will be another test for Southwest Valley. The Timberwolves are going to have to find a way to keep the rushing attack going with the Falcons expecting a strong ground game. The offensive and defensive line play are going to play a big factor in the success of Southwest Valley.

ST. ALBERT PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cy Patterson is a multi-sport athlete that will be effective in any facet of the game. Look for Patterson, along with 2019's returning leading rusher Connor Cerny to prove to be important in the Falcons moving the ball down the field.

SOUTHWEST VALLEY PLAYERS TO WATCH: Brendan Knapp has been old reliable for Southwest Valley, taking the reigns of the offense. Expect Knapp to be the focal point again, but receivers like Tucker TePoel are going to be another strong option to keep things balanced. The lines featuring TePoel and Tallen Myers are going to be key this week.

TIME AND SITE: 7 p.m. in Afton

RECORDS: Fremont-Mills (3-0), East Union (0-3)

LAST MATCHUP (2015): Fremont-Mills 42, East Union 12

OVERVIEW: East Unions has struggled this season, offensively and defensively. Opponents have been able to move the ball while keeping the Eagles from doing much to put up points. This is a big game, as a win could give the team the momentum it needs.

The Eagles have put up 26 points this season, scoring six points two weeks ago and being shut out last week. The offense is going to have to find a way to score on a stingy Fremont-Mills defense that has allowed 41 points this season.

Fremont-Mills has 805 yards on the ground, scattered through a bevy of running backs while being efficient in the passing game, throwing for 326 yards. The balance has helped lead the offense to average 59 points per game.

The passing game and the rushing game has been held to two key players, Gus McNeill and Emmet Long. East Union will need to find more than a duo to take a win this week. The defense is going to have to step up against the Knights' running backs.

FREMONT-MILLS PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jake Malcom is 20-for-29 passing this season, throwing for six touchdowns and one interception. Seth Malcom has the team-high in rushing yards, racking up 314. Expect the Knights to be balanced on the offensive side of the ball.

EAST UNION PLAYERS TO WATCH: McNeill and Long have been the main sources of offense. Look for them to produce the most significant amount of offense again this week. The Eagles will need leading wide receiver Scott Driskill to step up this week, giving the offense another facet.