WEEK 2 FOOTBALL PREVIEW:
By BRANDON HURLEY
Who: Harlan (0-1) at Greene Co. (0-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1 in Jefferson
Last meeting: Harlan won, 42-19 in 2016
Keys to victory: Can the Rams shut down the Cyclones’ vaunted rushing attack while finding points through the air?
A tradition-rich program in search of it’s mojo visits Greene County Friday night.
The Harlan Cyclones take on the Rams in a clash of non-district opponents at 7:30, both of whom are in search of their first win.
The magnitude of Friday night isn’t lost on first-year Greene County head coach Mitch Moore. He knows what Harlan brings to the table.
“This might be the most storied program in the history of Iowa high school athletics, certainly in football. The number of state championships they’ve won, the number of state appearances,” Moore said. “It is far superior than anybody in this state. What an opportunity for our program to have them come into our place when we know we can play with people now.”
Harlan Community will feature a run heavy attack.
Senior Nick Foss ran for 87 yards and a touchdown in the Cyclones’ 31-21 loss to Class 4A Lewis Central in week one.
He was a dual-threat in 2016, running for 139 yards and a touchdown in their 42-19 win over Greene Co. a season ago. For the year, he stacked up 1,164 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground while hauling in 24 catches for 622 yards and six touchdown receptions, a 25.9 yards per catch average.
The Rams hope to shake off a season-opening loss of their own, falling to Kuemper Catholic, 21-14. They expect a feisty football team Friday night.
“Harlan’s not going to hang their head,” Moore said. “They understand the importance of this game. You can go into district play with some serious momentum, regardless of what happened in game one.”
Harlan’s 2016 starter at quarterback, Deren Schmitz – who passed for 1,875 yards and 18 touchdowns – didn’t play in week one, out with a rumored injury. The then junior threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Greene County last fall.
Schmitz’s replacement, completed nine-of-22 passes for a mere 138 yards and two touchdowns last week, but also tossed three interceptions.
Moore hopes the Rams can use that to their advantage. The coach wants to force the Cyclones to become one dimensional.
“The big key for us is matching their physical play,” Moore said. “They are a physical. big football team and if we can play physical and we can keep hitting their running backs and keep hitting the people that have the ball in their hands and wearing on them, that’ll be key.”
The Rams held a double-digit lead last fall in Harlan before surrendering to a 23-point defeat. The new head coach doesn’t usually rely on that type of motivation, but said it can add a little extra to the fire.
“I never used that last year stuff as motivation because it’s a whole different year, they are a different team,” Moore said. “But, at least in the back of their head they know ‘Hey, we could play with those guys last year, why can’t we play with them again?’”
A big, feisty defense awaits the Ram offense. Moore hopes to get his guys out in the open with quick passes, just like they did against Kuemper.
“Their defensive line is coached tremendously well. They play with their hands, they are physical and they stunt,” Moore said. “They twist. They’ve got two linebackers that can run downhill and hit you in the mouth.”
The back line is where Moore expects Greene County to hone in on and exploit. The Rams will play fast, keeping the defense on their toes.
“Their secondary and and their corners and safeties, I feel that we can take advantage of them a little bit,” the coach said. “With our guys like Trey Hinote, Lance Hughes, Jorden Patterson and Carter Morton.”
Hinote leads the state in receiving with 152 yards and nine receptions. Moore wants to jump on the Cyclones quick, just like last year. He wants to surprise the visitors.
“We’re going to see if people can keep up with our tempo,” the coach said. “It’s hard to keep up with us if we’re completing passes and getting up to the ball and getting in formations and and playing with pace. Hopefully, we’re going to put some pressure on Harlan early.”