There is always that one make or break, must win game for each high school football team throughout a season. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes toward the end of the year, but it’s almost inevitable. Well, for Glenwood (6-1, 4-1), that game is tomorrow night. The Rams will host Winterset (5-2, 4-1) with a playoff ticket on the line. Both teams are tied at second place in the District 7 standings behind Harlan (6-1, 5-0), who likely clinched a district title with their 7-6 victory over Winterset last week.
This week eight matchup couldn’t come at a better time for the Rams. Not only have they won their last three games in blowout fashion, but Glenwood is seemingly playing their best football of the season in the month of October. The Rams blew out Denison 52-14 in week five, followed by a 42-20 win over Atlantic in week six and a 49-13 trouncing of Creston last Friday.
The Rams have used a powerful offensive line and a dangerous rushing attack to get the job done over the past couple weeks. Junior fullback Noah Carter has led the way on the ground, rushing for 411 yards and eight touchdowns on 59 carries in the last three games combined.
Carter isn’t the only one that has been tearing it up. Senior quarterback Andrew Blum has been utilizing his legs to add to a high powered Glenwood running game. Blum is the Rams’ leading rusher over the entire season with 731 total yards and seven touchdowns on 132 carries. Junior slot back Cooper Silvius is also a major contributor to Glenwood’s success on the ground. While he only averages about seven carries per game, Silvius is third on the team in yards with 403, and boasts the highest yards per carry in District 7 (minimum 45 attempts).
Obviously a large amount of credit is due to the Ram offensive line, as they have absolutely dominated the trenches in the last couple of games. The line has assisted in two consecutive 400-yard rushing performances from the Glenwood offense, and they will look to continue that streak this week against a tough Winterset defense.
That stellar defense has been the highlight for a much-improved Husky team this year. Coming off a 3-6 season in 2016, the Huskies tore through the first part of their 2017 schedule with their only loss coming in week two against Class 3A No. 6 Norwalk. That is, until Winterset hosted Harlan last week and lost a nailbiter to drop their second loss of the season.
Despite the absence of the 2016 District 7 tackles leader, Conner Van Pelt, the Huskies haven’t batted an eye on the defensive side of the ball. Winterset has allowed only 13 points per game all season, and held Harlan to a season-low seven points last week. However, they will undoubtedly have their hands full against a high powered Glenwood rushing attack.
The Huskies will pose a multidimensional threat on offense. Led by junior quarterback Casey Kleemeier, the Winterset offense keeps opponents guessing with a two-pronged approach. Kleemeier has been outstanding in his junior campaign. Not only does he rank second in the district in passing yards (889), but he also owns the best touchdown to interception ratio with 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions on the season.
With a wishbone offense, Winterset’s rushing game is a balanced attack, as the Huskies have four players with 190+ yards on the season. Junior back Hunter Pashek has had the biggest workload, carrying the ball 70 times on the season for 303 total yards.
Keys to the Game
There are many aspects to this game that could be deciding factors, although some of them are more obvious. The Huskies will need to keep Glenwood from getting into their rhythm in the run game. Plugging holes with blitz packages and solid linebacker play will be pivotal for the Winterset defense. On offense, Kleemeier and the Huskies need to take advantage of a Ram secondary that has struggled with the deep ball lately. Executing those things will likely give them the best chance of pulling off the upset tomorrow night.
For the Rams, if they continue to do what they’ve done over the last few weeks, there won’t be many defenses out there that will be able to stop them. Getting the ground game rolling early will be critical for Glenwood against the hard-nosed Winterset defense. While they have been winning and winning big, miscues on special teams and missed coverages in the secondary have plagued the Rams throughout the season. They will need to limit those mistakes before they become costly. All in all if Glenwood focuses on the areas at which they excel, solid defense and lots of running, they shouldn’t have too many problems with the Huskies.
Even with a loss tomorrow night, each team would have a realistic shot at sneaking into the state playoffs as a wildcard. While this is not necessarily a “win or go home” game, there is no doubt a guaranteed playoff bid is something these two teams yearn for. Needless to say, this one could get intense, so buckle up Ram fans.
My pick: Glenwood 21, Winterset 16
Kevin’s pick: Glenwood 14, Winterset 13
What You Need to Know for Friday
Plan on going to the game? Kickoff is at 7:30 PM at Ram Memorial Field. Tomorrow night will also be the American Heart Association’s sixth annual Red Out event in Glenwood. Each Ram player will be honoring/remembering a friend or loved one affected by heart disease by wearing red socks and wristbands on the field. Glenwood High School REACH/SADD invites you to participate by wearing red in the crowd as well.
Can’t make it to the game? GlenwoodSports.com has you covered with pregame talk via Facebook Live at 7:00 PM, followed by a live audio/video stream of the entire game starting at 7:30 (link on home page).