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Cedar, Ponca resume old rivalry on Friday

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HARTINGTON - The rivalry continues on Friday night when Cedar Catholic travels to Ponca as both teams start their district play. 

Cedar and Ponca are both 1-3 coming into the game, and both teams have lost to BRLD, Oakland-Craig, and Aquinas Catholic. Cedar’s win came against David City this week, while Ponca’s win was in week one against Tekamah-Herman.

Having played three of the same non-conference opponents, the Trojans and Indians will have every opportunity to study up heading into Friday’s battle. 

“It helps some because you can compare and contrast what worked and didn't work for them in comparison to what worked for us,” said Cattau. “At this point in the season, every team is developing tendencies so we can really study those as well.”

Last year, this game had a ton of hype going into it. Both Cedar Catholic and Ponca were undefeated and ranked in the top three for Class C2. This year, the teams look much different, with both schools having graduated large senior classes that played a big part last fall.

“I do know these are completely different teams that lost a lot of good players off those teams and we are both still trying to really find what we can really do well,” said Cattau. “I believe we have found that on both offense and defense so now we need to build upon those results. “

For Cedar, that means the traditional ground and pound, especially after junior running back Jacob Keiser went off for 330 yards and three scores against David City. 

For Ponca, expect to see a lot of work on the ground, specifically from senior running back Gage McGill.

“They have a very skilled running back in McGill, that is the heart of their offense,” said Cattau. “they will play him in the backfield and also split him out when they run their spread formations. He is very elusive and has excellent speed, so we must contain him every play.”

Cattau also will be working with his secondary this week, after allowing over 240 yards in the win over DC. Ponca lost a stud quarterback in Logan Kingsbury, but the Indians will still test over the top at some point.

“Their quarterback, Aden Anderson, throws a good ball and is a very strong kid, so he can be difficult to tackle. He played fullback for them last season so we know he has a lot of toughness. He is also their middle linebacker and he makes a lot of tackles so we need to be able to get him blocked.”

With both teams having a backfield presence in Keiser and McGill, expect the battle of the trenches to establish control of the game. 

Both Cedar and Ponca lost a lot of experience on the line, and have been improvement projects through the first four weeks.

“Their line on both sides of the ball continue to get better each week,” said Cattau. “They lost a lot of experience so they are somewhat similar to us in that area. They are physical at the snap and play very well fundamentally.”

All-State linemen Rex Becker will have an impact for the Trojans on both offense and defense as the junior linemen will lead the way for the Trojans.

Both teams look to get a step closer to .500 on the season. After Cedar lost in Ponca 20-0 last year, expect a competitive game through all four quarters.