The first week of the high school football playoffs is in the books, and North Iowa is down to nine teams. Eight area squads snagged victories on Friday in the first round, with St. Ansgar watching and waiting on bye week.
This week, there are several fun matchups on deck, and there is a possibility for some upsets. The following list is the Globe Gazette Locks and Upset Alerts of the week, with one bold prediction from each of the Globe's sports staff. Think of this as your fun little guide to area teams in week two of the state playoffs.
No. 5 West Hancock vs. Madrid
With seven straight wins, six of them by at least 28 points, West Hancock is a team to be feared in the postseason. In this second round matchup against the Tigers, the Eagles should be able to earn the win fairly easily.
As an offense, Madrid has 1,718 total yards this season, compared to 2,866 for the Eagles. The Tigers have a total of 15 touchdowns this season, while the Eagles have 40, with Cole Kelly accounting for 28 by himself.
Head coach Mark Sanger is never one to overlook any opponent, but West Hancock fans should feel comfortable going into this one. Aside from the Eagles' sterling offensive numbers, the defense has been huge this season, with 75 tackles for loss, and 13 picks, with the unit allowing just one opponent to score more than 14 points.
The Eagles should be able to beat Madrid in typical Eagles fashion, to advance to the third round.
No. 2 St. Ansgar vs. West Fork
West Fork will be highly motivated in this rematch of the Eagles' week four 54-21 loss to the Saints. No matter the motivation though, it won't be enough to take down the No. 2 Saints.
The Warhawks have 2,479 total yards on offense this season, with quarterback Kayden Ames leading the way with 1,467 yards passing and 592 yards on the ground.
For St. Ansgar, three rushers have made it to over 1,000 yards this year, led by senior Ryan Cole, with 1,170. The Saints' first three quarters against Lake Mills on Oct. 9 showed that the run game can be stopped, but only for so long.
The Saints have thrived this season on defense as well, with only two opponents scoring more than 16 points.
With two weeks of rest, one of the best offensive lines in the area, and a trio of backs capable of big yardage, the Saints should be able to pull off another win.
Newman Catholic vs. No. 8 Wapsie Valley
Since their 35-6 loss to West Fork on Sept. 11, the Knights have played extremely well, with four wins in their past five games. The only blemish in that time was a 10-point loss to No. 2 St. Ansgar, a game where quarterback Max Burt threw for 220 yards, and the Knights trailed by just two points in the third quarter.
The Knights have shown an ability to adapt their game-plan to the weaknesses of the opposing defense, and spread the ball around. Newman Catholic has 1,467 yards rushing yards this season, led by junior Jack Maznio, with 528. In the passing game, Burt has thrown for 1,358 yards this season, with 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
A Newman Catholic win over the No. 8 ranked Warriors would be an upset, but the Knights have proven that they will not just roll over for a heavily favored opponent.
The Warriors are a balanced offense, with 1,259 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, along with 1,370 passing yards with 23 touchdown receptions on the season. Kobe Risse is the biggest weapon the Knights need to find a way to stop, as Risse has passed for 1,348 yards, and leads the team in rushing with 908 yards.
It will be a tough task, but if the Knights let Max Burt sling the ball around, maybe they can pull this one out. Newman proved that it can hang with the big boys when its gave No. 2 St. Ansgar a scare.
With a little bit of luck, they might just pull it out this time.
Lake Mills vs. No. 9 South Winn
The Bulldogs' 5-3 season record is misleading. In Lake Mills' 42-24 loss on Sept. 25 to Newman Catholic, the team was missing defensive star Caleb Bacon, who currently leads Class A with 95 tackles. In the Oct. 9 loss to St. Ansgar, the Bulldogs held St. Ansgar to just six points through the first three quarters, only losing the lead in the final six minutes of the game.
Lake Mills has an impressive running game, with 2,001 team rushing yards this season. The Hanson's have led the charge for the Bulldogs; senior Casey Hanson has 791 yards and nine touchdowns on 105 carries, while Brady Hanson has seven touchdowns and 610 yards on the ground.
South Winn's only loss this season came against MFL-Mar-Mac, when the Bulldogs rushed for 359 yards. If the Hanson's can break some yardage, Lake Mills could stay in it.
Conversely, the Bulldog "three-headed monster" defense will have to contain quarterback Jacob Herold, who has rushed for 538 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
On defense, if Bacon is on the field, the Bulldogs have a chance. He is a fearsome presence at linebacker, and when he isn't playing, the team struggles.
It will be hard, but Lake Mills has proven it can put up a fight. If you are looking for an upset, keep an eye on this game.
Mason City vs. No. 6 Webster City
Forest City vs. No. 5 Waukon
Clear Lake vs. Spirit Lake
Osage vs. No. 10 Columbus Catholic
A Bold Prediction
Gunnar Davis: Max Burt will throw three touchdown passes in the first half against Wapsie Valley.
Shane Lantz: Cole Kelly will rush for 150 yards and three touchdowns by halftime of West Hancock's game against Madrid.
Jerry Smith: West Hancock's Cole Kelly and St. Ansgar's Ryan Cole will combine to carry the ball 40 times in the first half of their respective games.
Shane Lantz covers sports for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Shane.Lantz@GlobeGazette.com, or by phone at 641-421-0526. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneMLantz.
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