FBall West Hancock vs. Grundy Center 2

West Hancock sophomore Josef Smith runs though a gap in the Grundy Center defense Friday in Britt.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette

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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