Saturday’s Class 1A Semi-final meeting of the E’Hawks and West Branch Bears will be whale of a football game, in the opinion of Emmetsburg Head Coach Mike Dunlap.
“There’s no doubt West Branch is a good team,” Dunlap said. “They’re big and physical and they only lost one game all year, their second non-district game, to Wilton.”
According to Bud Legg of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, both teams have strong rushing attacks with West Branch using the pass more often. Emmetsburg has amassed 4,227 ground yards, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. West Branch has produced 3,060 rushing yards for an average of 6.4 yards per carry. The Bears have logged 1,176 aerial yards to E-Hawks’ 615.
“West Branch works out of the Wing I, and they’re very fast and have a big, physical offensive line,” Dunlap noted. “They like to run the blast, counter trey and power and have tailback with over 2,000 yards.”
When the Bears go on defense, they operate from a 5/2 or 4/3, according to Dunlap. “Again, they are big and physical up front. Obviously, they are a good football team to get to this point of the season.”
For Emmetsburg, there is obviously great incentive to come away with a victory on Saturday night. This is Emmetsburg’s first return to the UNI Dome for the semi-finals since 2003.
After missing out on playoff qualification last season, the E’Hawks dedicated the 2008 season to the concept of one game at a time. That mindset remains the key in the preparation for Saturday night’s contest, according to Dunlap.
“We simply have to come out on Saturday night and play our very best game of the year,” Dunlap said. “That’s just how it is.”