A lot is at stake tonight when South Tama's football team hosts Grinnell for the final regular season game.
Players, coaches and fans on both sides know what's at stake when the two rivals take the STC field at 7:30 p.m. There's a rivalry trophy, district title and bragging rights until next year on the line tonight.
"We're not that pressured," STC coach Jay Hoskey said. "We've had a good year and we want to make it great. These guys are pretty confident in what they can get done. We're healthy and feeling strong. These guys think they can beat anybody and that's a good thing. We respect Grinnell and we know they have a darn good team, but we're not going to be intimidated by anybody. Being physical is a big part of that. We don't like Grinnell and they don't like us, but that's a good thing."
Tonight's game will be South Tama's final regular season home contest this fall. The STC seniors will be honored before the game for senior night.
"Being at home is a good thing," Hoskey said. "Senior night can be a distration, but it will be neat to honor these guys. Hopefully this won't be our last game at home.
"This is a great group of seniors," he said. "A number of them have played on varsity since they were sophomores, but also a bunch of them have chipped in as role players like they are right now. It's a fun group."
South Tama has won its last four games since falling to Newton on Sept. 14. In the last four games, STC has scored 189 points, while allowing just 44 points to its four opponents.
The Trojans offense is led by senior Kyle Stephenson, who has rushed for 1,398 yards on 206 carries and 21 touchdowns. He ranks 14th in all classes for his rushing yards, but just third in Class 3A. His 21 touchdowns lead 3A by three this fall.
Grinnell's junior Eli Dunne leads his squad with a passing attck. He has completed 119 of 185 passes for 1,807 yards, while throwing 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His average completion is 15.2 yards. He ranks 11th in all classes and third in 3A for passing yards this season.
"They throw the ball extremely well," Hoskey said. "They will run a lot of spread offense. Their quarterback is the coach's son and he's 6-5 with a good arm. He's also got a good touch. He's a great athlete. He's one of the best athletes in this part of the state. He's kind of their catalyst."
Hoskey said the Tigers aren't big in size, but he said they are athletic and quick. He also said their defense is strong, too.
"They're not big, but they have a lot of kids who are athletic, coordinated and can move," Hoskey said. "They have some smaller, quicker, athletic guys. They are lean, but strong.
"They will give you more fronts and looks than a lot of teams," he added. "They will play pressure defense. Probably what they don't do as well as the rest of it is maybe they haven't been tested much against a power running team. They do well against quick teams."
Grinnell enters the game with a perfect 8-0 record and the only unbeaten team in Class 3A Distict 4. Meanwhile, South Tama comes in 7-1, which is its best record in years, and sitting second in the district standings.
Friday's winner will take the district title and be assured a home playoff game next week. Grinnell is assured of a top-two finish in the district and a home game next week. However, STC would need some help should it lose tonight's game. A loss tonight could tie the Trojans with Boone and Newton, if both of them win tonight.
South Tama beat Boone, but lost to Newton earlier this year. Boone beat Newton, but lost to STC, meanwhile Newton beat STC but lost to Boone. All three teams could finish with a 4-2 district record, creating a three-way tie for second place. Then it would go to the 13-point differential rule used by IAHSAA.
South Tama will be trying to regain the Steve Kriegel Memorial Trophy for the first time since 2007 when Grinnell visits tonight.
"We are telling the guys we have to be here and not just go through the motions," Hoskey said of the Trojans week of practice. "We're ready for Friday, but we have to get the mindset that we have to get better before Friday. Even the smallest increase could be just what we need."
The freshman game will be played before the varsity contest tonight. The freshman contest will start at 4:45 p.m.