A pair of teams looking for their first win of the 2013 season will meet on the gridiron as Oskaloosa entertains Carlisle in the Class 3A, District 8 opener for both squads.
Both teams are coming into Friday night’s contest with 0-2 records after dropping road games last week.
The Wildcats lost 33-26 to Ballard while the Indians fell to No. 5 Grinnell in a wild 55-46 tilt.
Oskaloosa coach Mike Sterner expects the contest to be a big challenge for his squad.
“This should be another great challenge for our team,” he said. “Carlisle is a strong team with good skill players. Once again, the line play will be a key to victory.
“We do not worry about the other team. We are focused on our best. We certainly need to continue our improvements on defense and our kids are up to the challenge. I am sure Carlisle is also also hungry for a win.”
Oskaloosa has a decided advantage over Carlisle in the running game, rushing nearly 250 yards more this season than the Wildcats.
In fact, Oskaloosa junior Andrew Landgrebe has outgained the entire Carlisle team as the junior has rushed for a district-leading 431 yards this season, including 279 yards against the Tigers last week.
Juniors Ty Erb and Kichanh McMullen have been the top ground gainers for Carlisle, which has gained 320 yards on the ground. The duo have rushed for 161 and 104 yards respectively. Erb has ran for two touchdowns as McMullen has added one.
Both teams have had problems mounting passing attacks in the early part of the season.
Carlisle junior quarterback Josh Hagedorn has thrown for 212 yards on 11 of 26 passing with two touchdowns.
Oskaloosa senior Jesse VanDalen has only attempted 22 passes, completing eight, for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Jake Epp is Carlisle’s top receiver with four receptions for 69 yards and two scores while junior Noah Smith has 96 yards on two catches and a touchdown.
Oskaloosa’s top receiver is senior tight end Spencer Medlin with three receptions for 53 yards. He injured an ankle versus Grinnell and his status is unknown for the game.
“We will miss a couple kids for sure this week, but we are also potentially getting some back from injury, which will help our depth,” Sterner said.
Senior Ryder Curtis has caught the only TD pass from VanDalen, good for 29 yards. Senior Jeremy Schneider has the other touchdown pass, a five-yard toss from Joe Sterner.
While both defenses have had problems stopping their opponents, they do have some solid talent.
Carlisle senior linebacker Spencer Endecott is the district’s top tackler with 33 while Epp has been in on 20 tackles. Epp has also added an interception and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Oskaloosa senior linebacker Mason Wisse is right behind Endecott in tackles with 28 and junior defensive back Riley Coniglio is sixth in the district with 23 tackles.
The two have also recorded the lone turnovers for the Indian defense, each with a fumble recovery.
“Offensively they are a very disciplined option football team,” Sterner said. “They also come off the ball low and hard. This is certainly going to be a chance for our kids to improve in those respects. They also have the ability to step back and throw, so our pass defense will need to continue to develop.
“Their defensive line gets off the ball low and hard and their linebackers are very good. We must each focus on our best 1/11th for success this week.”
Herald Sports Editor Jim Gries can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org