STATE CENTER - Today may not have been circled on the calendar of the West Marshall football team, but the Trojans have certainly been eying this date.
Sure, it's Homecoming in State Center, but aside from that, tonight's the night West Marshall gets another crack at North Polk, the team that ended its season a year ago.
Tonight at 7:30 p.m., the two teams will face off again in Class 2A District 7 action.
T-R FILE PHOTO
North Polk’s Noah Pickard (35) wraps up West Marshall quarterback Braydn Beals (7) during their Class 2A playoff meeting Nov. 8, 2010, in Alleman. North Polk eliminated the Trojans, 21-0.
"Spent all year thinking about that playoff game," said West Marshall quarterback Braydn Beals.
It was a game that saw the Trojans on the short end of a 21-0 score and eventually sent North Polk to the 2A title game.
The Comets took advantage of a physically worn down Trojans team that was down four starters and had a host of others battling more than just nicks and bruises.
North Polk (3-1, 1-1) at West Marshall (4-0, 2-0)
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: State Center
"We knew that people had to come in that pretty much had no experience playing," said Tysen Streeter of the injuries.
They may be a year removed from that field in Alleman, but the memory hasn't faded.
"We remember it. There's no question about that," said West Marshall head coach Ken Winkler.
Both teams return almost all their skill position players from a year ago, with the Comets leaning heavily on running back Noah Pickard.
The senior has gone for over 100 yards in all four games this year for the Comets (3-1, 1-1) and has 701 yards on the year while sporting an 8.3 yards-per-carry mark.
"They're capable of being pretty balanced," said Winkler, "but I think if they had their choice they would give the ball to Pickard."
The Trojans (4-0, 2-0), ranked second in Class 2A, enter the contest having outscored their opponents 181-14 on the year.
Dalton Ferch has rushed for 623 yards and 11 TDs to lead the way while Beals has passed for over 300 yards with four touchdowns against zero interceptions.
Both teams will be plenty familiar with the other as this marks the third time in a year they've faced off. West Marshall defeated the Comets, 27-26, in the regular season last year.
"They know us. We know them. It should be a good game," said Ferch.
But after learning the lesson that regular-season success doesn't necessarily translate to a trip to the UNI-Dome, the Trojans are trying to keep this contest in perspective.
"We haven't dwelled on (last year's game) because there's a lot of football left to go after this," said Winkler. "We try to focus on each week being the biggest game of the year that way you don't overlook somebody."
Even with all the extracurricular activities surrounding any Homecoming contest and the extra motivation that comes with playing the team that ended your season, Winkler doesn't envision his team losing focus or coming out too amped this evening.
"The lows and the highs aren't with this group like they are with some groups," he said. "They have been pretty steady."