High school football teams begin their postseason journeys on Friday, and for some area teams, the team on the other side of the ball in the first round is a familiar one.
The Sacred Heart Gremlins and Northwest Mustangs meet for the second time this season when they face each other in the opening round of the 8-man playoffs Friday in Hughesville. The Gremlins won the first meeting 62-52
“They’re loaded on the opposite side of the ball,” said Northwest coach Garry Walker. “They have (Trent) Lyles who is an incredible athlete in any sport that he plays, probably one of the most gifted athletes that we’ll encounter. Preparing for him is difficult because we don’t have anybody that can matchup to his skill set and only have nine players; it’s hard to matchup to that in practice. We just have to spread out and hopefully we can contain him.”
Northwest has struggled with low numbers all year and enter this week with both good news and bad news. The Mustangs will be without Garren Powell but they do get power-rusher Daniel Blaylock back after he was held out the past two weeks recovering from an injury.
Lyles had rushing, passing and returning touchdowns against Northwest in the earlier meeting, a game which saw 114 combined points, one stretch of 36 combined points in two-and-a-half minutes and a Mustang comeback bid fall short.
The winner of that game will take on Southwest Livingston next week.
Windsor at Crest Ridge
Windsor and Crest Ridge have also met before — last week. The Greyhounds beat the Cougars 47-40 to close the regular season. Crest Ridge got the ball to the Greyhounds’ 19 yard line at the end of the game but the Windsor defense held.
“It was a really big win,” said Windsor coach Dave Wanninger. “We had a close game against Cole Camp and got some people back. I think our kids are pumped up going into this first game of districts.”
There have been a few close games between Windsor and Crest Ridge. This is also a rematch of the 2014 first round of the district tournament, a game Crest Ridge won 26-20. The previous week, Crest Ridge beat the Greyhounds 14-0.
“It could come down to the last play again,” Wanninger said.
Wanninger said the Cougars feature a strong offensive line blocking for a team which will run read option and passed well at the end of the game last week.
Warsaw at Mountain Grove
In Class 3, District 3, the Warsaw Wildcats will try to take down Mountain Grove. The Wildcats fell 38-0 to Mountain Grove to open the postseason in 2014.
This year’s Mountain Grove team is 7-2 and scored 40 or more points four times, including 51 in a Week 1 win over Logan-Rogersville. The Panthers defense has been successful as well, allowing a touchdown or less in five games.
Appleton City at Lincoln
The unbeaten Lincoln Cardinals open district play with Appleton City. The Bulldogs have put points on the board on their way to a 4-5 record but so has everyone they’ve played. Appleton City averages 43.8 points per game and teams playing Appleton City average 38.5 points per game.
That Appleton City offense will face a Cardinals defense which has allowed 55 points in total all season.
Tipton at Osceola
The 2-6 Tipton Cardinals will travel to Osceola to face the 6-3 Indians.
Osceola and Tipton have a pair of common opponents. Both lost to Lincoln, Osceola losing 50-15 and Tipton losing 42-6. Both also lost to Cole Camp, the Cardinals shut out 28-0 and Osceola falling 22-17 when the Bluebirds’ Trace Brandes sacked Osceola quarterback Drew Carney on the final play of the game.
Though the Indians are 0-2 against Kaysinger Conference teams this year, they have fared well in their other games, outscoring teams 232-88.
Sweet Springs at Westran
After back-to-back wins over Orrick and Wentworth Military Academy, the Greyhounds have dropped four in a row. They will try to break the losing streak with a trip to defending Class 1 state runner-up Westran.
The Hornets (5-4) had their own mid-season losing streak but have turned things around the past two weeks, beating Slater 70-8 and Fayette 26-0.
When Westran lost Week 1 to Mark Twain, it was the first time they lost in the regular season since September 2012.
Knob Noster at Father Tolton
A 46-44 Week 2 loss to Lutheran St. Charles is the only defeat Father Tolton has experienced this season. The Trailblazers held their next four opponents under 10 points and then scored 93 in a win over Missouri Military Academy.
Father Tolton also took an 8-1 record into the postseason in 2014, including a Week 2 loss to Lutheran St. Charles and a run of holding teams under 10 points after that, but the Trailblazers lost in the opening round of district play to Hallsville.
Cole Camp at South Callaway
South Callaway’s run to the Class 2 state championship game in 2014 began with a 56-0 win over Knob Noster and continued with a 61-0 win over Hallsville, a 41-6 win over Higginsville and a 21-8 win over East Buchanan. When Lamar scored 30 points against them to win the state title, it was the first time in 10 games South Callaway had allowed more than 10 points.
This year’s South Callaway team has shown flashes of that defense, but has also allowed 48 points in a loss to Southern Boone and 32 in a close win at Van-Far.
The Bluebirds meanwhile try to get back to winning ways after they saw a five-game winning streak snapped Week 9 with a loss to Lincoln.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles