Fairfield football welcomes underdog role
With a 3-6 record headed into postseason play, the Trojans are going to be an underdog no matter where they play.
The role sits just fine with head coach Mike Schenck, who believes the Trojans’ record might be to their advantage against first-round opponent Winterset (6-3).
“When Winterset has played outside the district they haven’t had a lot of success, and because they see us as a 3-6 team they may come in a little overconfident, which I hope is the case,” Schenck said.
Winterset has lost two of three games out of district, including a 48-14 loss to A-D-M in Week 2 and a 20-19 loss to Creston in Week 8. Their third loss, a 37-22 defeat at the hands of district foe Norwalk, came at midseason.
Not many probably saw the Fairfield vs. Winterset matchup coming, either, but not much has gone as expected this season. The overlying assumption was that Fairfield would be traveling to Pella this week, but the Huskies pulled off the upset against the Little Dutch last week to win the District 8 title and the right to face Fairfield. Against Pella, Winterset came back from a 14-0 deficit in the second half, scoring on two late defensive touchdowns and a field goal to win 17-14.
It wasn’t the first time Winterset earned a close win. The Huskies won the district title often playing clutch football, also edging Knoxville 23-21 and claiming a 21-17 victory over Carlisle.
Despite Winterset’s late-game heroics, Schenck believes Wednesday’s matchup will be a favorable one.
“I think it’s probably a better matchup [than Pella] for us simply because I think they’re less likely to put the ball in the air and more likely to run,” said Schenck. “They don’t have the experience of playing us before, either, so hopefully those will be factors that work out to our favor.”
The Trojans haven’t seen anyone quite like the Huskies yet, but Washington might be the closest team. Like the Demons, Winterset hangs its hat on tough, physical play. They’re also run-first on offense, led by 1,000-yard rusher Noah Kaldenberg. Senior quarterback Cory Briney has a 10-to-10 touchdown to interception ratio and has thrown for 967 yards overall. Winterset also has a big-play threat in wide receiver Trae Gilliand, who has 41 catches for 553 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012.
“They have a nice running back who’s gained over 1,000 yards, and they’ve got a nice wide receiver,” said Schenck. “They run out of multiple offensive sets, everything from the wishbone to spread shotgun stuff, so defensively there’s a lot of things we’ve got to get ready for.”
The Trojan offense put together its most consistent game to date in last week’s 25-13 win over Chariton, and holding on to the football could be more important than ever this week. Winterset is led by an opportunistic defense that has returned two interceptions for touchdowns and recovered another two fumbles for touchdowns.
“We’ve got to be patient and we can’t afford to turn the ball over,” said Schenck. “It’s going to have to be like we played last Friday, where we have 10- or 12- play drives and not turn it over and not have penalties that kill drives.”
Schenck also anticipates Fairfield’s special teams playing a pivotal role vs. Winterset.
“It’s going to be a fact that maybe we have to do something with our specialty teams. Take a kickoff back, block a punt ... or maybe Matt Carr makes his first field goal — but we may have to have a big play on specialty teams.”
With a short week of practice, the projected starters are the same as those who played Friday. Backup running back Nick Jackson is back from an ankle injury, and Austin Gridley has also returned to practice. Brett Scott remains questionable following a high ankle sprain in Week 7.
Kickoff for the first-round matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in Winterset.
Pos. Name Class
QB Dillon Fry Sr
RB Mason Carnahan Sr
WR Spencer Peterman Sr
WR Justin Hammes Sr
WR Alex Shier Jr
TE Vince Horras Jr
LT Jake Mineart Sr
LG Mason Ellis Jr
C Cody Craff So
RG Austin Deao Sr
RT Daniel Schwarz Sr
K Matt Carr Jr
Pos. Name Class
DE Jake Mineart Sr
DT Gabe Jaquez Sr
NG Kooper Dahlstrom Jr
DT Justin Leonard Jr
DE Cody Cohen Sr
OLB Aaron Gevock Sr
ILB Seth Davisson Sr
CB Mason Carnahan Sr
CB Justin Hammes Sr
SS Josh Dimmitt Sr
FS Jonny Swanson Sr
P Daniel Schwarz Sr