The Class 3A No. 4 ranked Independence Mustangs (7-0) will look to keep their perfect record against the Waverly-Shell Rock Go-Hawks (2-5), who defeated them 27-0 last year.
Mustangs head coach Justin Putz said his team has not forgotten about the final two games of last season, when they lost to the Go-Hawks and Decorah to close out the season.
“We definitely remember the last two games of the season last year,” Putz said. “They helped motivate our guys all offseason. Our guys know Waverly-Shell Rock beat us 27-0 and remember how we couldn’t stop the run. It will motivate our guys this week.”
Waverly-Shell Rock’s running attack is not as potent as last year’s team, but they have a trio of running backs they rely on with Jonathan Wessel, McCrae Hagarty and Donovan Wessel. As a team, the Go-Hawks have been limited to only seven rushing touchdowns in seven games this year.
“We will have to be ready for a physical game,” Putz said. “Waverly is one of the bigger teams in the district. They will run it right at us. Offensively, we will have to be ready for some different looks and an aggressive defense.”
Go-Hawks quarterback Ethan Flegge has only completed 37.1 percent of his passes; going 43-for-116 in passing attempts for 606 yards, three interceptions and one touchdown.
The Mustangs defense has recorded three shutouts this season and has limited their opponents to only 42 points in seven games.
“The defense has really done a nice job for us,” Putz said. “They have played physical and aggressive defense all year. We hope they can help carry us through this tough finish to the season.”
Defensive players on the Go-Hawks to look out for include Cael White (32.5 tackles, four tackles for a loss, one sack), Cole Kramer (29 tackles, two sacks) and Layne McDonald (21 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one interception).
Mustangs quarterback Logan Schmitt is coming off another big week, where he combined for four touchdowns. He had 160 yards passing and 100 yards rushing.
Schmitt has rushed for 1,071 yards this season, but Independence also has two strong running backs in Kaleb Lamphier and Marcus Beatty that have made an impact this season.
“The entire run game has done a nice job,” Putz said. “The offensive line takes a lot of pride in the run game and work hard every day. The backs have done a nice job of finishing runs and breaking big plays.”
In the passing game, Schmitt has plenty of impact receivers to throw to as six different Mustangs have caught touchdown passes this season. Last week against Charles City, Blake Bartz caught three passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
“It is nice to have a lot of weapons,” Putz said. “That really puts pressure on the defense to guard the whole field. The receivers have really done a good job of catching the ball and getting open.”