Creston/O-M (1-2) football will enter Week 4 of the regular season a little banged up, but it will not deter the Panthers from throwing everything they have against the Glenwood Rams (2-1).
The Class 3A District 9 matchup will be the second-straight week where Creston/O-M is taking on a ranked opponent. Last week, the Panthers lost 34-7 to AP No. 4 Lewis Central, and will continue on in 2020 in what Creston/O-M head coach Brian Morrison considers the toughest district in the state.
“It’s a repeat (of last week),” said Morrison. “Our district is pretty dang good. I told the kids, we have to be clean on our side as far as what we do. I think we had a really good week of practice, offense, defense and special teams. I think it’s the best week we’ve had, two weeks in a row, all year.”
Glenwood lost to Class 3A No. 3 Harlan, another tough District 9 team, 22-13 last week. Harlan made its push in the second half, scoring 22 unanswered, and successfully snuffed out the Rams’ rushing attack.
Glenwood rushed for just 49 yards on 29 attempts (1.7 yards per carry). Quarterback Brock Sell passed for 123 yards, but passed for under 50% of his attempts. Morrison said improvements are necessary, play clean on offense and defense, and feels the success on stopping the Rams lies in eliminating the run.
“They’re a good football team. There’s no doubt about it,” said Morrison. “There’s no margin for error for us against anybody in our district. ... Stopping the run is critical for us. We need to get teams in second and long to be successful. ... Up front, Glenwood is really good.”
Glenwood’s leading rushers are CJ Carter with 156 yards and Sell with 152 yards. Last season against the Panthers, the Rams came at Creston/O-M with a revolving door of backs – rushing for 245 yards on 51 carries with seven different ball carriers.
The rush has been a problem in both losses for the Panthers. Lewis Central tallied 194 yards on the ground and Winterset tallied 296 on the ground. Coincidentally, the Panthers have had the same problem – only their issue is getting the ball moving with an offensive line that will let them.
“I think the running backs are playing hard,” said Morrison. “They’re doing the right thing. Up front, we’ve got to clean up the run throughs and blocking the right assignment. I know we emphasize it all week, ... we’ve shown improvement, ... the effort is there. We’ve just got to do the right thing.”
Creston enters Week 4 with Gage Skarda as the leading ball carrier with 74 yards on 38 attempts. Colby Burg leads in receiving with 98 yards on seven catches, and also leads in interceptions with four. Briley Hayes, Connor Travis and Derek Paup are tied for the lead in tackles with 12 each.
After starting 2019 2-0, and finishing 2-7, the Panthers have found themselves in a familiar spot with district play being tough on them. Morrison says the kids are working hard, and they can only control what they can control.
“Our kids are competing like crazy. They’re playing hard. We’ve just got to fix things are far as what we can control,” said Morrison. “We can’t control the opposing team and what talent they have. We’ve just got to get us right and that’s been the focus the last three weeks.”
Week 4 will not only be a challenging game due to the opponent, but due to personnel. Without dynamic athletes Cael Kralik (out for the season, torn ACL) and Brance Baker (out for season, dislocated shoulder), Morrison moved players around and has noticed some stepping up in their absence.
“I think Colby Burg has stepped up already,” said Morrison. “He was on defense before they got injured, he was starting on offense. ... We did make some changes on moving the kids around.”
Notably, Gannon Greenwalt has moved to a regular cornerback position and Evan Bruce has moved to a wide receiver spot to help relieve the depth in each position.
Baker missed the second half of last Friday’s contest with the injury. Kralik played in the season opener against Boone before his injury limited his playing time into Week 2. He has not played since Week 2.
T Avery Fuller 6-4 200 Jr.
G Owen Richards 6-0 280 Jr.
C Jackson Kinsella 6-1 200 Sr.
G Chris Wilson 6-1 285 Jr.
T Keegan Smith 6-0 270 Sr.
WR Derek Paup 6-2 210 Jr.
WR Colby Burg 6-0 160 Sr.
WR Britain Miller 5-8 150 Sr.
QB Cole Strider 5-10 150 Sr.
RB Briley Hayes 5-10 150 Jr.
FB Garon Wurster 5-5 150 Sr.
K Aiden Anderson 5-9 150 Jr.
DE Derek Paup 6-2 210 Jr.
DT Andy Weis 5-9 220 Jr.
DE Jackson Kinsella 6-1 200 Jr.
OLB Connor Travis 5-8 145 Sr.
ILB Briley Hayes 5-10 160 Jr.
ILB Garon Wurster 5-5 150 Sr.
OLB Kaden Bolton 5-8 150 Sr.
CB Gannon Greenwalt 6-0 160 So.
CB Colby Burg 6-0 160 Sr.
SS Evan Bruce 5-8 135 Jr.
FS Brodie Wallace 5-11 150 Sr.
P Derek Paup 6-2 210 Jr.