Football: Week 3 Preview - Dallas Center-Grimes
By BRANDON HURLEY
Who: Greene Co. (0-2) at #2 Dallas Center-Grimes (2-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. in Grimes
Last Meeting: DC-G won 18-12 in Jefferson in 2016
Keys to the game: Can Greene Co. score on that vaunted DC-G defense? Will they be able to contain the Mustang rushing attack?
Coming off one of the biggest wins in program history, the second-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes Mustangs await Greene County as Class 3A district 2 play opens this week.
The Scott Heitland-led DC-G Mustangs knocked off three-time defending champ Pella in week two, ending their 42-game win streak with a 10-7 victory Sept. 1.
The Mustangs have allowed just seven points in two games, outscoring their opponents 45-7. They defeated ADM, 35-0 in week 1, allowing just 88 yards.
“They are just so well coached,” Greene County head coach Mitch Moore said. “Scott Heitland does as good of job as any coach in the state in coaching his players to do what they are supposed to do. They are very fundamentally sound, they play loose. They aren’t worried about making mistakes, they are trying to make plays.”
The often high-powered Pella offense mustered just 177 yards and one touchdown in DC-G’s upset win.
DC-G defeated Greene County 18-12 in last season’s matchup en route to 6-3 record a year ago. They return a veteran, confident and dangerous squad.
“They’ve got talent. Twenty-one of their 22 starters are seniors and their one junior, [Coty Lemon]. in my opinion might be the best defensive tackle in the state,” Moore said. “They’ve got a system and a program that they all believe in that’s been set in place for a number of years. They are seeing the fruits of the labor.
Lemon has 11.5 tackles so far this season to go with 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He amassed 43.5 tackles and six tackles for loss as a sophomore last fall. He stands at a massive six-foot-two and 285 pounds.
The Mustangs’ QB, Damon Clapper can both run and pass. He has five touchdowns this fall. The senior threw for 882 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016 while running for 239 yards on the ground. He threw just five interceptions in nine games last season.
Fortunately for Greene County, Nathan Brown is gone. He ran for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns during last year’s victory.
Shut down Clapper and the Rams may have a chance at pulling the upset. Greene County will look to lean on one of it’s own veterans come Friday.
“Jake Berns has to do a good job of knowing where [Clapper’s] at at all times,” Moore said. “He can match Clapper’s speed. But what makes him really good and allows him to excel in that offense is he’s a great decision maker. Clapper doesn’t always have to take the home run route either, he takes what’s given to him. He does that really, really well. He’s been in the system for many years.”
Moore expects the Mustangs to play cover 3 and man-to-man defense, among other packages.
The first road game of the year presents its own unique set of challenges as well, especially for a young, inexperienced team like Greene County.
But, Moore isn’t too concerned with how his guys will handle a hostile crowd. In fact, he’s welcoming the opportunity.
“I think it’ll be good for us to get away for a week and go over there,” the coach said. “We won’t have that same pressure that we felt in the second half against Harlan. I don’t think everybody was looking down on us, but you feel that. It might be good for us to go into another environment.”
Moore is quite familiar with the opposing coach, they’ve often exchanged text messages and even sat a few rows apart at the ISU vs. UNI game last Saturday in Ames. Heitland frequented ISU practices over the years when Moore was working as an assistant under Paul Rhoads and Matt Campbell.
“He’s a great student of the game,” Moore said. “There’s never been a time when I’ve been around coach Heitland when he thinks he laced up the first football, he always wants to get better.
He’s pushing the envelope, finding something new. He’s doing whatever he can to be the best coach he can be. He has a lot of support from the community.”
Their relationship expands beyond football as well. Heitland texted Moore words of encouragement prior to the Ballard native’s first game last week.
“He’s a great human being. Just like we are trying to do with our program, the things you do off the field, affect how you do on the field,” Moore said. “Coach Heitland, I imagine, is a guy that does everything right off the field. He’s a good guy for the profession of football. I have a ton of respect and admiration for that guy.”
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. in Grimes. It’s a tall task in a brutal stretch of games (Fifth-ranked Webster City visits Jefferson next Friday), but Moore knows his guys are ready to show the fans last week was a fluke.
“What a challenge for us. Now our backs are against the wall. This is an opportunity for our kids,” Moore said. “Let’s go show people that we are still invested and we still care about winning games. We aren’t going in there to put up a good showing, we are going in to win the football game and that’s been my message all week.”