CEDAR RAPIDS - As playoff primers go, this one looked textbook.
Top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier will charge into the Class 3A playoffs with a full head of steam after scoring 41 first-quarter points and thrashing South Tama, 62-7, in the reg ... »
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The unstoppable force is set to collide with the immovable object.
As cheesy as it might sound, the phrase is appropriate when West Delaware and Clear Creek Amana take the field.
The sixth-ranked Hawks will match strengths with the No. 9 Clippers in a battle of unbeaten Class 3A District 4 teams Friday night at Tiffin. The winner will become a front-runner for a postseason berth and district title.
“Obviously, they have a tremendous tradition there and a great coaching staff,” CCA co-head coach Matt Hughes said. “This is by far going to be our biggest challenge of the year. We know they are going to play sound football. ... They are going to be very physical. We’d like to think that’s our recipe as well.”
West Delaware (5-0, 3-0) has produced 3A’s top-ranked offense, while CCA (5-0, 3-0) has posted three shutouts and allowed just 22 total points.
“If you look statistically, that’s the way it’s going to appear,” West Delaware Coach Doug Winkowitsch said. “They have a stingy defense. We are going to have our work cut out. I think the key for us is we have to keep moving the chains and do our best to keep our drives alive.”
The Hawks will be challenged to add to their 2,483 total offensive yards, including 1,607 on the ground. The Clippers have surrendered a fraction of that this season. Opponents have put up just 797 yards of offense. Only one team has amassed more than 100 passing yards and CCA has allowed one 100-yard rusher.
“We’re going to have to control the trenches on both sides of the ball,” Hughes said. “We’re going to have to move the ball.
“We’re going to have to play good sound fundamental defense and keep doing what we do, and try to get 11 to the ball and try to create some turnovers.”
Senior Tanner Wessels has become a focal point of the Hawks potent offense in his first year as a starter. He has stepped in under center this season, passing for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has added 457 rushing yards and five scores.
Winkowitsch said Wessels’ ability to extend plays have paid dividends.
“He just makes plays with his feet,” Winkowitsch said. “He’s made really good decision. I think he’s a kid that we knew he would step right in to that quarterback role and do a fantastic job.”
Wessels has connected with four receivers at least eight times. Kabryn Cook leads the way with 310 receiving yards. Tyler Kelley has 258 and Iowa State recruit John Nagel has 12 catches for 158 yards. Their size is a luxury. Nagel is 6-foot-6 and Kelley is 6-4 with Cook one inch shorter.
“He has some nice targets, too,” Winkowitsch said. “It helps to have three kids that are 6-foot-3-plus to throw the ball to.”
The Clippers have tallied 23 or more points in all five games. They have pounded the ball, averaging more than 250 rushing yards per game. Matt Brimeyer and Jared Eckrich have assumed the majority of the carries. Brimeyer has 380 yards and three TDs, while Eckrich has 324 and five. Cade Gallagher averages 6.8 yards per rush.
“They’ve got a great ground attack,” Winkowitsch said. “I think our defense will really have to play well and slow down their three-back set.”
The Clippers’ previous five opponents own losing records. They mapped out this season and knew this three-week stretch would pose the stiffest test. After the Hawks, CCA travels to a rebounding Marion squad and then heads to perennial power and playoff contender Davenport Assumption.
The Clippers have had the proper approach the entire season.
“We’ve known there was going to be this patch coming with good football teams and great challenges,” Hughes said. “Our whole motto, so to speak, throughout the whole preseason and heading into this week, is every week we are just trying to go 1-0.
“If we can go 1-0 enough times, we’ll be happy at the end of the season.”
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