PARKERSBURG – Momentum has been a fickle beast for both the Aplington-Parkersburg and Dike-New Hartford football teams.
The Wolverines seemingly had it following an impressive win at Class 3A Oskaloosa to open the season, but have been shutout in each of their last two games, losses to Grundy Center and South Hamilton. The Falcons took their share of lumps in back-to-back losses to Clear Lake and West Marshall before finally finding their footing last Friday in a win over Hudson.
As the two teams prepare to face each other Friday in Parkersburg at Ed Thomas Field at the midway point of the 2020 season, head coaches Don Betts and Alex Pollock both feel this rivalry game could be the push that could ignite their teams.
“As crazy as it seems you are looking for that one big push that is going to get that momentum going into the playoffs because it is going to be here before you know it and this is the game,” Pollock said. “They are probably thinking the exact same thing.
“I think we both can look at our 1-2 records and say this isn’t where we want to be, but looking ahead there is a lot of possibilities.”
Betts says A-P, like his D-NH squad, probably feel closer to summit of the mountain rather than at the bottom looking up.
“We need to keep getting better,” Betts said. “I’ve told our team the last two weeks we are not that far away. We had a pretty brutal stretch to start the season, honestly. We’ve faced two really good ball clubs the last two football games.
“We have some little things we need to get better at. I think our kids heads are in the right place and they are working hard. We had a great practice last night and that is what we really have to focus on is us continuing to get better.”
Both teams have had similar struggles with turnovers.
The Wolverines trailed just 8-0 with four minutes to go last week against South Hamilton, and turned the ball over and ended up losing by three touchdowns.
“Really thought our offense, given the conditions last week, did a lot of good things,” Betts said. “We got playmakers. There are a lot of things to build upon from last week both offensively and defensively.”
The Falcons have lost seven fumbles in three games.
“We have done a lot of good things,” Pollock said. “The biggest issue we’ve had is turnovers and turnovers at critical times. Friday (against Hudson) we fumbled the ball multiple times inside the 20 going into score so ball security is going to be a big thing for us.”
Both teams have strong run games. Drew Larsen for DNH and Chase Verrett for A-P, and both have good quarterbacks, Nathan Moore for the Wolverines and Owen Thomas for the Falcons.
“Offensively, for so many years they were in that hurry up, Wing-T offense, especially when Ed (Thomas) was there,” Betts said. “They were so darn good at that. Then they tried a few things the last few years, and now they are back to an I-formation, don’t do a hurry up, but it is that same philosophy to run the football, come off the ball, knock you off the ball mentality they had for almost 30 years. I really think they have swung back to that mindset.”
For Pollock, he sees a young Wolverine team that with time will figure it out.
“They are a big, physical team led by a Hall of Fame coach,” Pollock said. “Any time you have that, I think you are dangerous. They have always had the athletes. I just don’t think they have totally put it all together.”
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