The HLV Warriors aren’t merely wading into the pool of eight-man football.
“When we said we were going to do this, we said we were going to jump in with both feet,” HLV Coach Kevin Smith said. “The kids have picked it up well.”
That’s for sure.
HLV improved to 5-0 overall, 4-0 Eight Man District 5 with a 73-28 rout of Twin Cedars on Friday. It’s just the latest in a five-game string of lopsided victories.
The Warriors rank second among the state’s 67 eight-man teams in scoring offense (64.2 points per game), eclipsing the 70-point mark on three occasions and rank third in scoring defense (12.6). That adds up to a state-leading scoring margin of 51.8 points per game.
It’s fairly ironic that the Warriors are doing so well in a game that athletics director Cory Lahndorf said in 2010 that the school wanted to avoid.
Enrollment numbers dictated otherwise.
“We’ve always been one of the smallest schools in (the South Iowa Cedar League), and it was pretty obvious when we played BGM last year when we counted 28 guys on their sideline, and we don’t even have 28 kids out,” Smith said.
At an enrollment disadvantage, HLV was climbing uphill. The Warriors were 2-7 last year, “and that left a bad taste in the kids’ stomachs,” Smith said. “They made a big commitment in the weight room in the summer.”
The transition began. And the playbook changed.
“We went through it and said, ‘This play can be modified (for eight-man). This one can’t.’ ” Smith said. “The biggest change is on defense. The defenders are looking for guys that aren’t there any more.”
The change has been smooth, because the Warriors have speedy athletes. And that speed has broken the opposition’s backs.
In the Warriors’ first four games, they averaged 12.5 yards per offensive play. Cole Lahndorf has rushed for nearly 800 yards, including 222 against Twin Cedars.
An easy early schedule has helped pave the way to the 5-0 start. It’s about to get tougher. HLV hosts one current unbeaten (Melcher-Dallas) on Friday, then entertains another (Wayne) two weeks after that.
A South Winn-win situation
South Winneshiek moved into sole possession of first place in Class 1A District 4 Friday, jumping to a 20-0 halftime lead and coasting past defending state champion Saint Ansgar, 28-12.
“One of our goals this season is to be outright district champions, and we knew to do that, we had to go over there and win,” said South Winn Coach Jason Ohrt.
The Warriors did so by dominating the line of scrimmage. They accumulated 278 rushing yards, including 152 by Colton Hageman, who upped his season total to 702 yards and eight touchdowns.
“Our lines played well on both sides,” Ohrt said. “We drove down and scored right away, then we had a nice goal-line stand on defense.”
South Winn (5-0, 3-0) faces archrival North Fayette (2-3, 0-2) next week. A win would wrap up a playoff berth with three weeks still to play.
One milestone reached, another looming
Marion Coach Tony Perkins was unaware that he was on the cusp of a coaching milestone until Thursday morning.
“I didn’t know until I was looking up some stats, and it kind of jumped out at me,” he said.
Perkins picked up his 150th career win Friday when the Indians rallied for a 25-14 win over Maquoketa at Thomas Park Field.
“Honestly, yeah, it means a lot,” Perkins said. “It’s very special, considering all the kids I’ve coach at Marion.”
Perkins is 150-81 in 25 years. He has been at Marion since 1999.
West Branch Coach Butch Pederson is a win away from an even greater achievement. He stands at 249-61 in 30 seasons. The Bears are at Sigourney-Keota next week in a 1A District 6 encounter.