With more than half of the regular season officially in the books, playoff races are starting to take shape across the state.

Here’s a few things we learned from Friday night’s games across the North Iowa area:

Eagles taking off – If there’s one thing Bob Sanger has learned in his 50 years of coaching high school football, it’s how to turn kids into winners.

West Hancock got off to a bumpy start to its season by dropping a 40- contest vs. Garner-Hayfield-Ventura, and then following up with a close loss to Belmond-Klemme, 12-8.

What the Eagles have solved since then is it takes a complete effort – offense, defense and special teams – to win football games. Their special teams led them to a big win over North Butler to get them jump started, the offense shined in a 42-point win over West Fork, and this week, it was the defense’s effort, combined with timely scoring, that scored them a big win over Grundy Center, 30-0.

Next up for West Hancock (3-2, 3-0) is another tough and important challenge at Newman Catholic (4-1, 2-1).

Nerves of steel – Homecoming games have enough adrenaline surrounding them to begin with. Osage and Riceville each took that to the next level Friday night.

Each faced one-score deficits in the fourth quarter and each pulled out a win.

Osage used a 25-yard touchdown pass from Drew Olson to Lucas Schwamman with 3:34 left in its game vs Crestwood to rally for a 21-20 victory.

Ninth-ranked (8-man) Riceville faced a seven-point hole late in the fourth quarter of its game vs. Northwood-Kensett, but a touchdown with 2:21 remaining, plus a two-point conversion, lifted the Wildcats to a 14-13 win to stay perfect in district play.

Still perfect – Bishop Garrigan and St. Ansgar each made the Class A quarterfinals a year ago, and each are still firing on all cylinders this season.

With the help of Drew Bacha, the fourth-ranked Golden Bears rolled to a 42-7 win over MMCRU Friday night. Bacha carried the ball 16 times for 234 yards and two touchdowns, plus returned a punt for a touchdown.

No. 9 St. Ansgar rode its rushing game to an easy 46-0 win over West Fork on Friday. Dayton Smith led the way with 128 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and added a 36-yard touchdown reception.

Belmond-Klemme just missed being included in that group as it was handed a 14-13 loss vs. district rival Denver to drop it to 4-1 overall. Also at 4-1 are Clear Lake, Newman and Riceville, all of whom won Friday night.

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