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North Iowa football teams got their first look at their own squads last week, as the high school football season kicked off.

This week, the area’s most interesting match-up will be between two rival schools, whose stories so far in 2019, and overall football philosophy, are very different. 

The Osage Green Devils, who were ranked No. 10 in Class 1A before last week’s 56-12 loss at Clear Lake, and the St. Ansgar Saints, currently No. 3 in Class A, will face off at Osage. 

Osage, under head coach Matt Finn, relies heavily on the passing game, while St. Ansgar, in nearly 20 seasons under coach Drew Clevenger, leans on the run. 

The Green Devils, coming off of a tough loss to begin the season, are hoping for a strong performance against their Top of Iowa rival, while the Saints are hoping to keep their momentum rolling after a 66-14 win against West Fork. 

“They’re always a really-coached team,” Finn said. “It’s fundamental football, and that is on both sides of the ball. It’s nothing super flashy, but they do it really well. Year in and year out, it doesn’t matter who is under center, who is in the backfield, or who is on the line. They’re going to get theirs.”

With so many North Iowa teams choosing to run the ball, Osage is a bit of an outlier. They focus mostly on passing, which means that opposing teams have to watch film and change their usual defensive game plan when facing the Green Devils. 

For Finn, the reliance on the pass means that his offense operates at a very fast pace, which is sometimes a good thing, and other times a drawback. 

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“Even if you are doing well, if they’re controlling the clock, they’re in control,” Finn said. “That is something we have to pay attention to. I love that pace if they’re off-schedule. If they’re behind, or if they’re doing things they don’t normally do, we’re in a great place.”

The Saints don’t get to see pass-heavy teams very often, and the players are excited to see something new. 

“It should be a fun one,” senior Jack Sievert said. “They’re going to be a tough team to beat. They throw the ball a lot more than most people we see, and that is something we relish. We don’t see that a lot during the season, but we definitely will in the postseason.”

Despite the Green Devils’ poor performance last week, Clevenger is expecting the two teams to be fairly evenly matched in this Friday’s rivalry game. 

“Osage is very athletic and very well-coached,” Clevenger said “They do a great job over there, and I think they’re a very good team this year. It seems like, when one team isn’t as good, you kind of throw the records out this week. It’s always a highly competitive game, and it’s always a fun game. 

"We know that if we give anything less than our best effort, we’ll get beat on Friday.”

Osage and St. Ansgar will face off at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Osage.

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