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Dennis proving to be a menace for visitors of North Tama

September 30, 2011
By MARK PAWLAK - Assistant Sports Editor (mpawlak@timesrepublican.com) , Times-Republican

TRAER - Depending on your view, the confines of Dennis Athletic Field have been either extremely friendly or unfriendly.

The home team has handed every opponent to enter over the last five years a defeat.

The lights turn on again for another Friday night of football tonight as North Tama hosts Postville in a district showdown.

The defending Class A state champion Redhawks are ranked second in the state with a 5-0 record. The Pirates also are 5-0 and are ranked fifth in the latest Associated Press poll.

With a pair of home wins to its credit already this fall, North Tama has won 27 consecutive games in Traer. Not only have the Redhawks won at home, they've done it convincingly. North Tama has shut out 19 of those visitors (there was a run of nine straight shutouts from 2008-10) and won by an average of 32.3 points per game.

"You've got a crowd coming in every night and we can't let them down," said Redhawk junior Jacob Wrage. "They all have expectations of us and they're high expectations and we know that. We have to play up to that."

Fact Box

Postville (5-0) at North Tama (5-0)

Friday, 7 p.m.

Dennis Athletic Field, Traer

North Tama's last home loss came to Postville back on Nov. 1, 2006 in the state playoffs, 9-7.

"It's a huge game for us, and for them," North Tama head coach Brent Thoren said of tonight's top 10 pairing. "There are a lot of implications that are on the line for it. It's going to be a great test for us."

The Redhawks have overpowered the competition to date as they've won 60-0, 45-0, 42-0, 56-0 and 45-0 this season.

North Tama was hit hard by graduation from last year's championship team, but hasn't seemed to miss a beat with its new faces. The Redhawks are second in Class A in scoring offense at 49.6 points per game.

Eight different players have scoring rushing touchdowns, while there are six players with receiving touchdowns on the year. Wrage's eight ground scores are a team-high, while Nick Whannel adds four touchdowns. Mitchell Boerm has three receiving TDs, while Dalton Hulme and Jacob Watson have two apiece.

"I've been really happy with where we're at," Thoren said of the offense. "We're moving forward and doing a good job."

"There's a lot of kids out there for us that are athletes and can do a lot of good things with the ball in their hands," Thoren added. "We need to keep distributing the football to those athletes."

Postville is 12th in Class A in scoring at 31.2 points per game. The Pirates are coming off a 38-13 win over East Buchanan last Friday behind 124 rushing yards by Dallas Imoehl, while quarterback Zach Steffans ran for and passed for a combined four scores.

"They're a big-play offense and they've got some weapons that can be explosive," Thoren said. "We've got to make sure we're fundamentally sound, tackle well and can't give up a big play. We want to force them to try to grind it out on us."

The front of North Tama's defense has been as strong as ever. Nolan Hefty has a team-high 41 total tackles, Whannel has 36, Skyler Kvidera 27 and Boerm 26.

Tonight's contest at Dennis Field will have a playoff-like feel with its highly-regarded combatants.

"There's some challenges we're going to face Friday and there's nothing wrong with a little challenge," Thoren said.