Hartington-Newcastle (4-2, 2-1)
at Wausa (1-5, 0-3),
3 p.m. Friday
Last week: Hartington-Newcastle beat Wynot, 40-20; Wausa lost to Allen, 52-26.
Outlook: The Wildcats are riding high off the win against their rivals, but they can’t take Wausa lightly as they are playing for their slim playoff lives this weekend.
“We are expecting to play a team that is in desperation so we will see everything they’ve got,” Hartington-Newcastle head coach Cory Uldrich said. “It’s a trap game for us and not because we are so much better, but because we have a really big one the next week against Bloomfield with District championship implications. It’s easy for kids to look ahead.
“We have to focus on Wausa, because they have one of the better players in our District in Ethan Baue. He’s a really good football player.”
Uldrich said that ball security is big against Wausa who will probably be doing whatever they can to make things happen.
But the Wildcats are riding high right now and could be locked and loaded.
“We are playing as well as we have all year,” Uldrich said. “Even in our lost to Allen and the week before against Randolph, we are getting more physical and tackling better and our offense is balanced. The thing we need to clean up is special teams. It would make our lives easier.”
Giving up kick returns for scores in recent games doesn’t help the Wildcats, while Wausa is looking to do whatever it takes and any opportunities the Wildcats provide, the Vikings will take advantage.
“Hartington-Newcastle looks a lot like us a couple of years ago,” Wausa head coach Adrian Alonso said. “They like to spread the ball out and they focus on two or three kids and they’ll try to get the ball to them.”
Wausa made Allen have to grind out a win, as it was more of a slow drip than a fast rush of dominance. The Vikings trailed 6-0 after one quarter and 28-12 at halftime.
“We had 45 offensive plays in the first half so that’s controlling the ball the way we needed to,” Alonso said. “We were doing all the right things we just needed to make more good plays. But we didn’t make things easy for ourselves.”
Alonso is also dealing with a lot of banged up bodies and has been able to only practice with 10-11 players most of the last week.
“We are struggling,” Alonso said. “Mentally we are still there, and the kids are still playing hard.”