Lennox (4-1) vs. West Central (4-1)
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Friday in Lennox
COACHES: Lennox – Matthew Luze (third season; 11-13); West Central – Kent Mueller (12th year; 110-31)
SEASON TO DATE: The Orioles edged ‘11B’ fourth-ranked Tri-Valley 23-21 at home last week, and have generally kept things close in their four wins this season. Lennox edged Tea Area and Canton by one score in earlier games after opening the season with a 27-15 win over Hot Springs. Two weeks ago, Madison defeated Lennox 52-21. West Central upended defending ‘11A’ champion Dell Rapids last week, limiting an opponent to a lone score for the third time this season. The Trojans’ 28-7 loss to top-ranked Madison on Sept. 11 was closer than the final score might indicate.
FAMILIAR FOES: West Central sent Lennox packing in the state quarterfinals last season, winning 28-6. The Orioles return the centerpieces from that offense, though, with third-year starter Tyler Leisinger at quarterback and a three-headed approach in the backfield led by John Oldenkamp, Collin McEntee and Jacob Lackas. The Trojans are similarly assembled with multiple backs making gains on the ground. Jonah Rechtenbaugh, Joseph Hanisch and Noah Vettrus have taken turns making the big plays on offense, while Hunter Hanley anchors the stout defensive front. The two Dakota 12 conference foes are no strangers and stylistically similar.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Trojans have more consistently beaten down teams, but there’s value, also, to Lennox winning close games. West Central is the more explosive between the two and carries in a defense that’s allowed more than 20 points just once in five games. If the Orioles wish to avenge last year’s playoff loss, it might have to come in the form of churning points out of turnovers.