A pair of teams with a total of 16 playoff appearances meet for the first time in their history when the Class 3A playoffs kick off Wednesday night.

Williamsburg, making the 3A playoffs for the first time after qualifying five other times in 2A, takes its 6-3 record into the 7 p.m. contest against No. 6 Oskaloosa (8-1) at Community Stadium in the first round of the playoffs. The winner advances to quarterfinals Nov. 8 against either Washington (7-2) or No. 3 Grinnell (9-0).

Although the teams haven’t met on the gridiron, Oskaloosa coach Darrell Schumacher said preparing for a team on short notice isn’t that difficult.

“It’s not really that tough with most of the physical stuff that we have to do during the season, like tackling drills, we just refresh on those a little bit,” he said. “We do a lot of mental preparation right now and this is the biggest thing about the playoffs is how teams can adjust to the shortened schedule.

“If you can adjust to the shortened schedule, then that’s a benefit to your kids. It’s just a matter of keeping them mentally fresh and have them ready to play and physically fresh.”

The Raiders, who were the runner-up in 2A in 2002, lost to District 6 champion Grinnell last week 34-7 in a game that decided the district championship.

Cody Baethke continues a long line of good running backs at Williamsburg as well as the Baethke name. His two older brothers, Dustyn and Tyler, both played collegiately at Central College.

Cody Baethke was fourth in his district with 1,196 yards and 15 touchdowns to lead an attack that was second in the district in total offense that averaged 367 yards a game.

Quarterback Trent Henderson has thrown for 1,415 yards and a district-leading 16 touchdowns while throwing only two interceptions.

Michael O’Rourke and Ryan Sauser have caught 65 of Henderson’s 92 completions for 1,082 yards. O’Rourke had latched onto 29 passes for 573 yards and nine touchdowns while Sauser has a team-high 36 receptions for 509 yards and two scores.

Oskaloosa led its district in offense and defense, gaining 3,772 yards in offense (419 yards per game) while allowing 2,259 yards to their opponents (251 yards per game).

Junior Tyler Sash has racked up 722 yards and has scored 11 touchdowns on the ground while adding 991 yards and 12 more touchdowns on 49 receptions. Spencer Stout has rushed for 613 yards and eight touchdowns while Cory Sheeley had picked up 335 yards and scored twice for the district champion Indians.

Senior quarterback Ryan Van Dalen is much like Henderson in that he takes care of the ball while finding receivers for a lot of touchdowns.

He’s completed 87 of 170 passes for 1,687 yards and a district-leading 17 touchdowns while being intercepted just four times all season.

Oskaloosa has been very tough to run against this season, allowing just a little more than 100 yards per game while giving up 15 points to their foes.

Senior linebacker Daniel Foster leads the team with 76 tackles while Chase Mitrisin and Jake Kerr both have recorded 53 tackles this season.

Eric Slaymaker is the top tackler for Williamsburg with 763 and Cody Huedepohl has been in on 63 tackles.

The Indians have not lost at home this season, which may not bode well for the Raiders.

Playing at home, especially in the first round, may play a big role in the outcome of the game.

“I think we play real well on the road, but it’s sure nice to play in the stadium and have our home fans there,” Schumacher said. “That first game is always nice to get under your belt. If we’re fortunate to win the game, that would be great and we would have to go on the road no matter what. We just want to go out there and focus on this game. Our kids will be pumped playing at home.”

Schumacher said he’s positive the Indians can force turnovers, which they’ve done a good job at creating.

Oskaloosa has intercepted 21 passes while causing 11 turnovers on fumbles. Sash and Tyler Alexander both have intercepted four passes while Adam Russell has picked off three passes.

“That’s one thing we have really worked on,” said Schumacher of the team forcing turnovers. “That’s a big thing we emphasized and our defense has done a tremendous job of doing that. Hopefully, we can continue to do that.

“Our defense feeds off our offense and vice versa. If our defense gets a turnover, our offense rises up to the challenge and gets it in the end zone for them. If our offense scores, our defense kind of turns it up a little bit more and is even tougher, Hopefully, that sort of thing will continue.”


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