(Underwood) -- The Underwood/Treynor rivalry returns on Friday night when the KMAland No. 1 Eagles (3-0, 1-0) travel to the No. 6 Cardinals (2-1, 1-0) in a Class 1A District 9 battle.
Coach Nate Mechaelsen’s team is coming off of a workmanlike 51-6 win over MVAOCOU. The Eagles had seven different players find the end zone in their third straight blowout win.
“We talked about coming out and dominating all phases of the game,” Coach Mechaelsen told KMA Sports. “I thought we did that for the most part. I was really pleased with our defense and special teams, but we were sloppy offensively. There are some things I want to clean up.”
The defense has now accounted for three touchdowns while special teams has scored twice in wins over Atlantic, Tri-Center and MVAOCOU. Scott Pearson has been dynamic no matter where he gets the ball.
The junior has scored touchdowns on the ground, through the air, on an interception and on both a kick and punt return.
“Scotty is one of our best football players, one of our best athletes and one of our hardest workers,” Mechaelsen said. “We want to get him involved as much as possible. The more he plays, the more he’s involved in our football team, and he’s a threat every time he touches the ball.”
Pearson and the Eagles now ready themselves for one of their most important games every year. The Underwood/Treynor matchup has been won by the Cardinals each of the past two seasons by a combined six points. Since the turn of the century, the two Western Iowa Conference rivals have split their 16 meetings.
“It’s one of the best rivalries we play,” Coach Mechaelsen said. “It’s one of the games we look forward to every single year. It’s a game the last two years that have come down to the wire, and they obviously didn’t go our way. It’s an outcome we want to turn around.”
While Underwood has incredible balance on the offensive end, Treynor likes to keep it on the ground. The Cardinals have rushed for 645 yards in three games and thrown for just 65 yards on 19 total attempts.
“We have to stop the run,” Mechaelsen said. “Their philosophy is to run, and they’re good at it. Last year, I felt we really did stop the run. They came out in the I formation, and it took us a little bit to get control of that. Once we did, we played run defense pretty well.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Mechaelsen doesn’t have a lot to quibble about, although he says it’s important they continue to improve.
“We’ve got to get better in all phases on offense,” he said. “We ran the ball pretty well (on Friday), but we’ve got to be able to throw the ball and get our athletes in space. We haven’t played a full four quarter football game yet this year. I’m interested to see if we can do that and see how good we really are.”
Keith Christensen will have reports in Treynor on Friday evening during the Red Oak Chrysler Connection Show. KMA Sports has full-scale coverage on AM 960 and FM 99.1 from 6:20 to midnight.
Listen to the complete interview with Coach Mechaelsen linked below.