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Eight-Man Playoff Football Preview: Northwood-Kensett at Ar-We-Va

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Rockets in playoffs

Eight-Man Playoff Preview

Northwood-Kensett (8-1) vs. Ar-We-Va (9-0)

Friday, October 26

at Westside, 7 p.m.


Head Coach: Chris Petersen, 5th year (37-14)

Nickname: Rockets

District: Eight-Man, District 1 (7-0, first place)

Overall Record: 9-0

Final Ranking: No. 1

Playoff Appearances: 12 (Class A: 1991, 1992, 1996; Eight-Man: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)

Overall Playoff Record: 6-11 (Class A: 1-3; Eight-Man: 5-8)

Points Per Game: 49.5 (446)

Points Allowed Per Game: 12.7 (114)

Total Offense: 350 p/g; (146.4 rushing, 203.6 passing)

Rushing Touchdowns: 27

Passing Touchdowns: 30

Leading Rushers: Drew Schurke, 90-581, 9 TDs; Keegan Simons, 126-520, 16 TDs; Dalton Ehlers, 23-104; Will Ragaller, 6-65, 1 TD

Leading Passer: Simons, 91-150, 1,584 yards, 26 TDs, 3 interceptions

Leading Receivers: Schurke, 46-786, 11 TDs; Derek Oeser, 30-634, 16 TDs; Wyatt Neumann, 7-141, 1 TD

Scoring Leaders: Schurke, 190 points; Simons, 108 points; Oeser, 102 points

Tackle Leaders: Ragaller, 40 UA, 59 A; Simons, 37 UA, 28 A; Schurke, 39 UA, 20 A; Oeser, 35 UA, 23 A; Ben Von Glan, 25 UA, 41 A; Wyatt Neumann, 29 UA, 29 A; Ehlers, 23 UA, 35 A

PAT Kicker: Schurke, 41-51

Field Goal Kicker: Schurke, 5-7 (long of 37)


Head Coach: David Capitani (30th year) Spent six seasons as assistant prior to taking over head job.

Nickname: Vikings

District: Eight-Man, District 2 (6-1 , tied for first place with Don Bosco and Rockford)

Overall Record: 8-1 (Lone loss to Rockford in regular season finale, 36-26)

Final Ranking: No. 8

Playoff Appearances: 18 (Eight-Man: 1984, 1988, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018)

Overall Playoff Record: 15-17

Points Per Game: 39.0 (351)

Points Allowed Per Game: 6.1 (55)

Total Offense: 309.8 p/g (282.3 rushing, 27.5 passing)

Rushing Touchdowns: 44

Passing Touchdowns: 6

Leading Rushers: Lane Anderson, 163-711, 13 TDs; Logan Bejegerdes, 73-676, 13 TDS; Brandon Varner, 63-414, 7 TDs; Caden Schrage, 26-236, 4 TDs

Leading Passer: Bejegerdes, 14-33, 230 yards, 6 TDs, 3 interceptions

Leading Receivers: Nathan Cordle, 4-110, 2 TDs; Marquise Bery, 5-64, 2 TDs

Scoring Leaders: Anderson, 84 points; Bejegerdes 78 points; Varner, 42 points; Logan Mayberry, 33 points

Tackle Leaders: Kyle Nichols, 38 UA, 57 A; Schrage, 22 UA, 41 A; Samuel Kliment, 26 UA, 31 A; Varner, 27 UA, 23 A

PAT Kicker: Mayberry, 31-39

Field Goal Kicker: Mayberry, 0-1

The Game

Top-ranked Ar-We-Va will put its unblemished record on the line Friday night when the 9-0 Rockets host No. 8 and 8-1 Northwood-Kensett in an Eight-Man first-round playoff game at Westside.

Northwood-Kensett will be making the 183-mile trip that will take just under three hours to reach Westside.

The Vikings won eight consecutive games before falling 36-26 to District 2-foe Rockford in the final game of the regular season last Friday night at Rockford.

Northwood-Kensett has shut out six of its nine opponents, including five of the first six, as the Vikings outscored their opponents 248-8 during that span.

Among Northwood-Kensett’s victories is an 18-0 shutout of district-foe Bon Bosco, the two-time defending Eight-Man state champions.

Ar-We-Va and Northwood-Kensett have played two common opponents this season in Clay Central-Everly and Harris-Lake Park.

Ar-We-Va beat CC-E (48-12) and H-LP (39-6), while Northwood-Kensett defeated CC-E (67-0) and H-LP (26-0).

Both squads are senior-laden teams with outstanding underclassmen playing key roles on both sides of the ball.

Northwood-Kensett is basically predicated to run the ball, while Ar-We-Va features more of a balanced attack in the run and pass department.

Ar-We-Va will be making its fourth playoff appearance in Petersen’s five years at the helm.

This is Petersen’s eighth trip to the playoffs, including four with Ar-We-Va (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018) and four with Melcher-Dallas (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).

Comments from Petersen

To be honest, Northwood-Kensett was the last team I expected to be matched up with in the first round and actually the team I didn’t want to play in the first round.

Northwood-Kensett runs a system offense with the Wing-T style. They rotate in five or six backs. It’s a system and they do it well. Basically, they come right at you and dare you to try and stop them. We’re definitely going to have our work cut out for ourselves.

They run a ball-control offense. They like to sustain drives, eat the clock up and wear down the defense.

Defensively, they have a team that fills and closes really well. They’re not over aggressive, but they have three big guys up front trying to stop the run. They are very physical and that’s something we’ll have to match. Their leading tackler is a freshman.

Rockford, the team that beat Northwood-Kensett in the final game, did a nice job of spreading them out defensively and creating space. Rockford’s quarterback ran well and they rushed for over 300 yards against them, so I’m hoping we can take advantage with our balanced attack and look to exploit their weakness.

Obviously, we’re going to do what we do best and that is stay balanced. I’d like to think that Northwood-Kensett hasn’t seen a team like ours that has the balance to run and throw the ball well.

We also hope that we can create some mismatches with Schurke and Oeser. Oeser has had such a good year and has really stepped up when teams try and take away Schurke. We will need to give Simons time to throw the ball, but at the same time, Simons is an outstanding runner and can also hurt you with his legs.

Our defense has been outstanding this season. I think we’re in the top five in points allowed. They’ve done just a tremendous job all season. I think we have seven guys with 40 or more tackles. They just have a defensive mentality. And it’s just not been one or two kids. We’ve had a number of different guys lead us in tackles during the season.

Just like their leading tackler is a freshman, we have our own freshman leader in Ragaller. He just has a great football IQ.

The six seniors have done a tremendous job of leading this group and keeping the underclassmen grounded.

The underclassmen have learned a lot from the senior group and it’s really impressive to watch.

What’s neat is that the senior group understands their success stems from the success enjoyed by Ar-We-Va’s teams over the last three years. The team two years ago layed the foundation for this group and truly were the groundbreakers. A few of our kids played big roles with that bunch and they get it. I think that’s why they’re as grounded as they are. They’ve taken what they learned from them and ran with it.

When all said and done, we have to stop the run. In order to do that, our guys are going to have play responsibility football. Bottom-line, our guys have to do their job and then have trust in the guy beside them that they will do their job. It’s going to take all eight guys on the field doing their jobs.

As much as I didn’t want to play Northwood-Kensett in the first round, I’m sure they weren’t thrilled to be matched up with us either. First of all, they have the long trip. Second, they’re facing a pretty good football team that’s been solid all year in all phases of the game.

I don’t think either team will be overlooking each other.

Neither team is going to change what they do at this point of the season. Field position, controlling the line of scrimmage and turnovers all play big roles in playoff games.

We’ve forced 30 turnovers in nine games, so we’ve had a salty year in that department. Northwood-Kensett doesn’t pass much, so they don’t turn the ball over a lot.

The kids are excited. The coaches are excited. And I’m sure the community is excited. I think you’re going to see a large and enthusiastic crowd. The atmosphere should be amazing.

Comments from Capitani

Ar-We-Va is obviously a very good football team. They’re number one for a reason. Watching them on tape, they have a lot of weapons offensively that really create a lot of mismatches for opponents.

As good as they are offensively, I’m really impressed with Ar-We-Va’s defense. They have aggressive kids and seemed to be very disciplined. It’s nothing fancy, but they just have kids who get the job done.

The Simons kid at quarterback and Schurke kid are very talented and we’ll have our hands full with them. Schurke seems to do it all, whether it’s running the ball, throwing the ball, catching the ball or kicking the ball. We’ll definitely have to know where he’s at on the field at all times.

You know we don’t throw the ball that effectively, so for us to be successful, we’ll have to control the ball, control the line of scrimmage and sustain some drives. We can’t go three-and-out continuously or it’s going to be a long night for us.

Defensively, we can’t give up the big play and let them march right down the field on us. Ar-We-Va has big-play capability and that’s a big concern of mine. We have to limit the big play and find a way to keep them in front of us.

Rockford, I think, is very similar to Ar-We-Va. The night they beat us their kids just outplayed our kids all around.

We had a couple of kids out that didn’t help our cause, but Rockford just played better than we did that night. They were able to run the ball effectively and threw when they had to.

You know the Don Bosco win was our best effort of the season by far. I think Don Bosco thought we could get there and they would take care of business, but our kids were focused and never let off the gas and the momentum. The game was close throughout, though, as we scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the win.

Yeah, I would rather play Ar-We-Va at home, but that’s not our choice. Our kids are used to long bus rides. They’re young men. Once they get off the bus, they’ll be ready to play.

For the game to be in our favor, we have to keep the score down. We can’t get in a shootout with Ar-We-Va. If we do, I don’t think I’m going to like the outcome. Our defense will have to be ready to play. Again, we can’t give up a lot of big plays. We know they’re going to get some just because of the talent they have, but we have to find a way to limit them.

Schedules and Results


Aug. 24 - vs. Boyer Valley, W 41-0

Aug. 31 - at Woodbine, W 68-6

Sept. 7 – vs. West Bend-Mallard, W 38-22

Sept. 14 – at Harris-Lake Park, W 39-6

Sept. 21 – vs. Remsen-St. Mary’s, W 49-12

Sept. 28 – at Newell-Fonda, W 47-14

Oct. 5 – vs. Clay Central-Everly, W 48-12

Oct. 12 – at Kingsley-Pierson, W 64-42

Oct. 19 – at River Valley, W 42-0


Aug. 24 – vs. Clay Central-Everly, W 67-0

Aug. 31 – at Harris-Lake Park, W 26-0

Sept. 7 – vs. Dunkerton, W 42-8

Sept. 14 – vs. North Iowa, W 54-0

Sept. 21 – at Riceville, W 41-0

Sept. 28 – at Don Bosco, W 18-0

Oct. 5 – vs. Janesville, W 28-11

Oct. 12 – vs. Tripoli, W 49-0

Oct. 19 – at Rockford, L 36-26

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