The Twin Cedars Saber football team is two wins away from having a perfect regular season, as they travel to Seymour (1-6) Friday night before hosting what will likely be the district title game against HLV, Victor (6-2) Oct. 21. HLV's two losses have come against eight-player powerhouses Lone Tree and Iowa Valley.
"We've found ways to pull out victories," Twin Cedars Head Coach Aaron Allspach said. He believes the key to the Sabers' success has been the balance of the talent, and the players have bought into playing together as a team.
Twin Cedars' defense has also improved this season. Allspach said the team has tried to shore up tackling. Allspach credits the senior leadership on the team, including eight seniors. But what is also important is ensuring that all players know what the expectations are and that they feel like part of the team.
"We've only got like 10 players who play all the time," Dakota Pinegar said. When they step out, he added, the reserve players need to know what they are doing.
"We're as strong as our weakest link," Allspach said. He wants to ensure that everyone gets into the game - even if it's cheering on the sidelines.
"We try to involve them as much as we can," added Jake Knox.
The Twin Cedars offense has racked up 186 rushing points and 96 receiving points. They have racked up 2,368 total yards, 47 touchdowns and 1,405 rushing yards. This is made possible by a strong offensive line, led by Jake Crozier. Twin Cedars' center, 150-pound Quinton Goemaat, has also been holding his own against nose tackles that are much larger than him. Andrew Stanhope and Pat Dykstra round out the line, with Knox coming in at tight end.
Not all of Twin Cedars' points have come offensively. The team has 66 return points as well. Their total points include one of the team's 12 interceptions returned for a touchdown, six kickoff returns for scores and three punt returns. Overall, Twin Cedars is second in scoring, among eight-player teams, behind only Lone Tree.
"It's going pretty good for us," Trace Embray added. He believes the defense has been the highlight of the team - a team he considers to be the best he has been a part of in his four years at Twin Cedars.
"The thing that matters to to us in the end is the wins," Embray said. "We have a good chance to go undefeated if we keep playing like we have."
The Sabers look past no opponent, but none of them believe Seymour will present as great a challenge as HLV.
"I think they're going to have a really tough defense," Knox said. "They look about the size of us. They're small, they're fast."
"We've got a lot more athletes than they do," Pinegar added. "I think that they're going to be tough, I mean considering the scores of Colo and us and Colo and them. I think we're going to be pretty close together."
"I know they'll have a good defense," Allspach added. Embray also recognizes HLV's toughness, but added, "Nothing tells me we can't beat them."
Though the challenge of HLV lies ahead, Allspach and his team are pleased with where they stand at this point.
"Our expectation from outsiders was probably to be 5-4," Allspach said. "I definitely had higher expectations than that."
Regardless of the expectations, Twin Cedars fans have been loyal. Allspach and his players have taken notice and want to express their appreciation.
"It's been great," Jake Crozier said. "It's packed every time." He added that when fans get into it, the defense benefits and they feed off of the energy.
"It's the best feeling in the world making a tackle or catching a touchdown pass and you just hear the crowd roar," Knox added. "It's awesome."
"I think that HLV's going to be a good game for attendance because it's basically going to be for the district title," Pinegar added.
The team is eager to make a strong playoff run, but there is something more important to them at this point.
"Playoffs are nice, but we haven't won a district title...since us two were kindergarteners," Crozier added. "It would be kind of cool to hang another banner, not just another playoff team."
"I think we'll definitely be prepared," Knox added. "Watch a lot of film, come together as a team, make a lot of tackles.."
"Up to this point, we're pleased," Allspach said. "Now that we're winning, we still need to strive to get that district title."