In just their second year back playing a full varsity schedule, the Lincoln Cardinals will play for a district title Friday.
“We’ve come a long way from when we started,” said Lincoln running back Heath Renno. “I think it means a lot to the town and to the team what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve worked for.”
On Friday, 11-0 Lincoln will visit 10-0 Skyline with a spot in the Class 1 state quarterfinal on the line.
Strength of schedule helped Skyline beat out Lincoln for the top seed in the district — Skyline had 55.94 points, Lincoln had 48.6. Skyline’s schedule included wins over Summit Christian and Marionville— the Eagles and Comets’ only losses of the season — as well as 6-3 Fair Grove.
“We’re excited,” said Lincoln coach Danny Morrison. “Not really any nerves or anything like that, they’re just excited. We get this opportunity, we get to play for a district championship, and they’re ready to go. We know we’re a good football team, we know they’re a good football team and it’s going to be a heck of a battle.”
Skyline’s offense has been hard to stop, averaging 51.6 points per game and scoring 45 or more points in every game but one.
“Really they can do anything,” Morrison said. “They’ve got a lot of athletic kids. Not a bunch of huge guys that are going to try to overpower you, they just have a lot of skill kids at every position. … I think they won Class 2 state track last year and most of those kids are playing football for them. They just do a lot of stuff well.”
That offense will face an equally speedy Lincoln defense which has allowed an average of 5.5 points per game this season and shut out Rich Hill, Wentworth, Windsor, Harrisburg and Windsor again.
“Everyone on our defense is outstanding and doing a great job,” said Cardinals defensive end Tyler Kroenke following Lincoln’s 52-0 win over Windsor on Friday. “Everyone does their job, there’s nowhere to go and we just go out there, make plays, play fast and physical football.”
On offense, Lincoln has scored an average of more than 48 points per game and has reached the 50-point mark in both district wins so far. The Skyline defense allows 16.2 points per game with Marionville able to score 37 on them but four other teams held under 10, including Cole Camp.
Morrison is hoping for an even mix of passing and rushing against Skyline. With rainy conditions in the win over Windsor, Lincoln for the most part left the passing game out while Renno rushed for 233 yards and three touchdowns in a half.
“We’re hoping to get our passing game and running game going,” Morrison said. “They’re going to be just as fast as we are so we’re going to have to out-work them and try to make some things happen there.”
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles