Week 6 preview: Clarinda’s balanced offense poised to test streaking Greene County
By BRANDON HURLEY
Crunch time has arrived.
Just two weeks remain in the COVID-19 shortened, seven game Iowa high school football regular season.
And though they’ve struggled through their fair share of ups and downs, the Greene County Rams sit at 3-2 overall and 1-1 in 2A, District 9 play. All things considered, they are firmly in the hunt for a top-tier playoff seed. That’s a good thing, folks.
The Rams are currently tied for the 13th-best record in 2A along with seven others. One of those seven teams is Shenandoah, which GCHS will square off with in the season finale Oct. 9 in Shenandoah. With all 64 teams in Class 2A qualifying for the playoffs this year, a higher seed essentially assures a first round home game.
With that being said, the Rams must first get past a pesky Clarinda squad in their final home game this Friday in week 6 action.
Clarinda’s smash-mouth offense will test a Greene County defense struggling to contain the run.
The Rams have allowed more than 150 rushing yards and at least two touchdowns in three of their last four games, including 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns to winless Red Oak last week.
Fortunately, Greene County has produced a riveting two-game winning streak immediately following a disheartening mid-season two-game skid. They are positioned to finish strong.
Clarinda has enjoyed a bit of rejuvenation as well. The Cardinals, after dropping two straight to open the year, have won two of their last three, including a 45-10 beatdown of Shenandoah a week ago. The Cardinals’ only loss in the last three weeks was to Class 2A, District 9 leader, Atlantic in a nail-bitter, 7-0 back on Sept. 18.
Clarinda tends to roll out a balanced, pro-style offense, leaning heavily on a powerful rush attack. The Cardinals lead the district with 13 rushing touchdowns while they are second with 702 yards. They’ve also thrown for the second most touchdowns (6), led by dual-threat quarterback Wyatt Schmitt. The sophomore leads the district with 10 total touchdowns, effective most out of a pistol formation or the shotgun, having tallied 754 total yards (607 passing and 147 rushing).
Clarinda has relied on the steady production of four athletes who have carried the ball at least 13 times. Sophomore Tadyn Brown has compiled 263 yards and four touchdowns for a 6.4 yards per carry average. Schmitt has a healthy stable of receivers to throw to as well, piloted by Michael Shull, who’s hauled in 16 catches for 297 yards and a pair of scores. Clarinda has size and talent. They’ll provide quite the challenge for Greene County’s defense.
“They are big across the board and have some good athletes,” Greene County head coach Caden Duncan said. “We need to play fundamentally sound defense and do our jobs consistently.”
Defensively, the Cardinals have found their groove. After allowing 69 points combined in their first two losses, Clarinda has held opponents to an average of just over seven points per game over the last few weeks. They held district-leader Atlantic to just seven points and Shenandoah, a team that was averaging 25 points per game prior to their week 5 loss.
The Cardinals, who are 2-1 in district play, have recorded eight sacks and 41 tackles for loss, recovering five fumbles and intercepting four passes along the way.
As it stands, Greene County is just a half game back of Clarinda for the second spot in the district. The Rams have only played two district games, compared to Clarinda’s three. In order for GCHS to come out with a key victory, Duncan believes his athletes must take advantage of opportunities. That, and the defense needs to produce one of its best performances of the fall.
“Big plays and turnovers will be the deciding factors in my opinion,” Duncan said. “Whichever team wins those two categories has a great chance to win.”
Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Linduska Field in Jefferson.