INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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The area football slate in Week Zero consists of six games, all in eight-player, one on Thursday night.
Time and place — 7 p.m. Thursday, at Victor
Last year’s records — WACO was 3-6; HLV was 9-2.
Overview — HLV reached the second round of the eight-player playoffs last year. Wyatt Kaplan rushed for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns. WACO is making its eight-player debut, and returns its top rusher, passer and receiver from a year ago.
Time and place — 7 p.m. Friday, at Lone Tree
Last year’s records — Central City was 3-7; Lone Tree was 6-4.
Overview — Lone Tree is another eight-player newcomer, and perhaps the best equipped team on the east side of the state to make a quick transition from 11-player to eight-player. Quarterback Trey Pierson returns, as does top target Jovonte Squiers. Wade McKinney rushed for 678 yards last year for Central City.
Time and place — 7 p.m. Friday, at Marengo
Last year’s records — Clarksville was 1-8; Iowa Valley was 2-7.
Overview — Iowa Valley joins the eight-player foray with a fairly veteran crew. Bennett Goettsch ran for 1,170 yards and 16 touchdowns, and collected 55 tackles.
Time and place — 7 p.m. Friday, at Dubuque (University of Dubuque)
Last year’s records — Easton Valley was 3-6; Midland was 6-4.
Overview — Midland could be setting up for a breakthrough season. The Eagles were competitive in all of their losses last year, and won’t have any difficulty scoring points (they averaged 49.2 per game in 2015 behind quarterback Alex Martens, who passed for 2,534 yards and 30 TDs and returns this season). Easton Valley played 11-player football last year.
Time and place — 7 p.m. Friday, at North English
Last year’s records — Tri-County was 1-8; English Valleys was 1-9.
Overview — English Valleys won last year’s game, 33-6. In each of its eight losses last year, Tri-County scored one touchdown or less.
Time and place — 7 p.m. Friday, at Springville
Last year’s records — West Central was 3-7; Springville was 5-6.
Overview — Both teams were playoff qualifiers last year and were eliminated in the first round. Springville’s Henry Hoogland and Seth Blake combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards last year, and both return. West Central welcomes back its top two tacklers, led by Dalton Bunn (85).