Who: Pella (6-2) vs Grinnell (7-2)
What: Class 3A Playoffs - Third Round
When: Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.
These two Little Hawkeye Conference rivals have met nine times since 2008 including each of the past four seasons. Pella owns a 7-2 advantage in the series in that span with wins in the past five meetings. The Dutch defeated the Tigers 28-14 last year.
One key player for Pella
Nick DeJong was a difference maker for Pella in their win over Winterset last week. The senior had 23 carries for 106 yards and one touchdown while adding another three tackles defensively. The linebacker helped lead an impressive defensive effort against a strong running Huskies team. He will have to do that again this week against 3A’s leading rusher in Grinnell’s Wyatt Hunter, who has rushed for 2,074 yards and 31 touchdowns. DeJong will have to get off blocks and clog up holes quickly against a quick runner like Hunter. Offensively, if DeJong can run like he did last week, that will not only continue to move the chains but help Pella in the time of possession battle, field position battle and open things up in the passing game.
Keys for Pella
Something has to give. It will be one of the top-ranked offenses in 3A with Grinnell (41.9 points per game) against one of the best defenses in Pella (11.6 points per game). The Dutch defense will be tested once again against a strong running game. Winning the turnover and field possession battle will be important for Pella. Grinnell forced five turnovers and ran for 286 yards in their shutout win against Fort Madison last week. It should be a good battle against a couple of hard-nosed football team egger to advance to the state quarterfinals.