Newman FB vs West Fork

Newman's Josh Fitzgerald breaks a tackle by Ian Latham of West Fork on a 68-yard touchdown run during a game this season.

ARIAN SCHUESSLER, The Globe Gazette

MASON CITY – After a tough stretch in the middle part of the season, with two games remaining, the Newman Catholic football team knows that the playoffs are out of the picture for this season.

But that doesn’t mean the Knights don’t have anything to play for when they take the field against a Nashua-Plainfield team that has been one of this season’s big surprises.

The Knights take the field at home tonight for the final time this season, and plenty is at stake.

First, it is Senior Night, so the Newman home crowd will see seven Knights take the home field for a game for the final time.

The Knights will also be looking for a strong finish to what could go down as a solid season.

One more win will guarantee Newman a winning season.

Victories in the final two games could mean that the Knights finish as high as third in one of the most competitive districts in the state.

“We are looking to get back on track,” Knights coach Rich McCardle said. “We want to get our offense moving again.”

The Knights offense, which was explosive to start the season, got sidetracked last week due to a tough St. Ansgar defense, soggy field conditions, and the absence of Josh Fitzgerald, who has been one of Newman’s most important big-play threats all season.

Fitzgerald, who has combined for nearly 800 yards rushing and receiving, returns to the lineup tonight.

The Huskies, though, have fought their way to a 5-2 overall record and are still in the hunt for a playoff spot as they are 4-1 in district play.

N-P picked up a huge district win over Grundy Center a week ago, and the lone district blemish for the Huskies is a three-point loss to St. Ansgar.

The Huskies feature a balanced offense that has produced nearly 1,000 yards on the ground and more than 750 yards through the air this season.

The key for N-P in its wins this season, though, has been a defense that has recorded three shutouts and surrendered an average of just five points per game in its five victories.

“They are doing things a lot better than last year,” McCardle said. “Our key will be stopping the run.”

After working through some injury issues, the Knights will enter the game largely healthy for the first time in several weeks, so McCardle and the Newman fans may very well see the return of the big-play Knights.

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