Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 13, 2017

Four county teams gear up for first-place foes

By Mt. Pleasant, New London, WACO and Iowa Wesleyan all play first-place teams this weekend | Oct 05, 2017
MPN file photo Levi Puig (right) and the Panthers will look to knock off a powerhouse in Solon on Friday night.

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Each of the five Henry County football teams have taken a different road to get to this point in the 2017 season. The county still has one undefeated team, one winless team, two squads hanging on for dear life in the playoff picture and a college squad trying to get back on their feet.

The five squads do have one scary thing in common, though. They each play one of their toughest games on the schedule. In fact, the five teams in which Henry County squads face this weekend have combined for just one loss in district/conference play.

Mt. Pleasant (4-2, 2-2) — The area’s big school could very well be 5-1, or even 6-0 if it weren’t for a few bad breaks against district opponents Washington and Oskaloosa earlier this season. While the Panthers are still technically alive in the playoff race, it’s going to take a couple of upsets for MPCHS to get into the dance.

The first thing that has to happen, is the Panthers have to pull off perhaps the biggest upset of the season against a heavily favored Solon team ranked first in the AP Poll and third in the Gazette poll in Class 3A.

The Spartans, led by star quarterback Cam Miller (14 TDs/1 INT), have put up at least 40 points in all of their district wins this year. They’ve also given up just 14 points total, including their two non-district matchups.

The Panthers have won their last two games and have been either tied or leading at halftime of every game. They are still reeling, however, from a couple of key injuries, including one to senior Brody McGhghy, who is still first in rushing yards for the team this season and second in receiving yards despite not playing in Mt. Pleasant’s last three games.

If the Panthers did pull the monster upset, they would be well on their way to a two-loss season with just the two bottom teams in the district (Fairfield and Keokuk) waiting for them in their final two contests. And while still not a likely automatic berth, that would make the Panthers a good-looking squad when the IAHSAA considers their two wildcart selections.

New London (5-0, 3-0) — For unbeaten New London, the time is now. The Tigers would all but lock up a playoff spot with a win in either of their next two games.

First place is up for grabs on Friday night at home for the Tigers, when they host Lynnville-Sully, the only other unbeaten team in the district. The Eagles are ranked sixth in the AP poll and fourth in the Gazette poll, and are coming off a 35-7 thumping of previously-ranked Pekin last weekend.

Lynnville-Sully sports a balanced offensive attack that is stocked with many weapons. Four different running backs have found the end zone at least five times for the Eagles, and starting quarterback Elijah Collins has 10 touchdowns spread out amongst six different receivers.

The Eagles have given up only 21 total points in their four district games, but it’s hard to simulate the type of speed New London brings to the table.

The duo of Keontae Luckett and Dallas Bell has run wild over opponents this season. Luckett has ran for 695 yards and nine touchdowns. Bell has run for 660 yards and four scores, and both average over nine yards a carry. The Tigers have also been deadly on special teams, scoring return touchdowns in each of their last three games.

A win would put New London in the driver’s seat in Class A District 6, but even with a loss, the Tigers could clinch a playoff spot the next week against Pekin.

WACO (3-4, 2-2) — WACO doesn’t have the easiest end-of-season schedule in the world, but the Warriors are still in the playoff hunt for now. The Warriors, however, are going to have to pull off an upset Friday when they take on Baxter, the 10th-ranked team in 8-Man football according to the AP poll.

Much like Solon and Lynnville-Sully, Baxter also sits atop their district and have yet to lose a league game this season. Baxter’s only blemish was an 81-18 non-district loss against St. Mary’s.

In their four district games, Baxter has scored no-less than 62 points. In fact, the St. Mary’s loss was the only game in which the Raiders scored under 60 points, and they’ve put up over 70 points on three different occassions.

WACO has been known to put up quite a lot of points themselves, but the Warriors will need to bulk up on defense to stay in the game Friday. Baxter quarterback Braydon Aker has put up an insane 1,733 passing yards and 30 touchdowns this season, and also has 396 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

Winfield-Mt. Union (0-6, 0-4) — Winfield-Mt. Union has quite the task ahead of them this Friday night. The Wolves will face an angry Pekin squad, fresh off their first loss. The Panthers have also recently been kicked out of the top-10 in the AP poll, but do sit atop the “teams receiving votes column.”

The key to stopping the Panthers? Stop Monico Requena, the senior running back who has 821 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground this season, and has also tallied 69 yards and a score through the air.

Requena went over 200 all-purpose yards even in the Panthers’ loss last Friday, so W-MU will need to be all over him if they want to stick around with their SEISC North Division rivals.

Iowa Wesleyan (1-4, 1-3) — There’s no way around it, the IW football team has hit a skid. After winning their conference opener on Sept. 9, the Tigers have lost three in a row, giving up at least 30 points in each loss. The worst defeat came on Saturday at home when Eureka topped IW 49-18 in Mt. Pleasant.

The Tigers will hit the road to face a St. Scholastica team that sits 4-1 overall and 4-0 in conference play. After getting absolutely pummelled 98-0 by St. Johns in their only non-conference game, the Saints have won four in a row.

IW will have to get their offense working if they want to snap their three-game losing streak. The Saints have given up a total of 10 points in their last two games.

All four high school teams will play on Friday, Oct. 6, with the small schools starting at 7 p.m., and Mt. Pleasant kicking off at 7:30 p.m. IW will kick off their road game on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 2:30 p.m.

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