Dike-New Hartford to face Sumner-Fredericksburg in district opener

The Dike-New Hartford football team will face a road test in its district opener against #6 (1A) Sumner-Fredericksburg Friday.

The Wolverines finished 1-2 in non-district play, with the games being decided by a total of four points. The losses to #1 (1A) Grundy Center and Osage were each by one point, and the win over West Branch was by two points. Head Coach Don Betts says offensive consistency and finishing drives will be keys moving forward.

"We've still got to find that consistency offensively," Betts says. "We've taken steps in that direction, I really like the progress we've made. We've found our offensive identity with our running game. Our running backs do a great job, our offensive line play is starting to come together. Our passing game still has to improve, but we've made strides there. It doesn't get any easier in this district we've got. But I think we're in a good position as we move into district play. We've played some tough competition, and that makes you better."

The running game has been led by Noah Borcherding and Micah Walston, who have provided a “one-two punch” by each averaging about four yards per carry.

The Wolverine offense will likely need more firepower against a 3-0 Cougar team that ran wild in a 58-6 win at Oelwein last week. Betts says Sumner-Fredericksburg has a lot of talent and can score at will.

"They're still a tough, physical, run the ball down your throat type of football team, but they've been able to add the passing game this year. I think that's what's made them even more dangerous, their ability to throw the football. They hung 58 points on Oelwein, that's a heck of a lot of points against anybody. We're going to have to slow that down and score some points ourselves. I really think it'll be a good battle. It'll go a long way in determining what the playoffs look down the road, I believe."

A balanced offense is led by quarterback Dawson Van Sickle, whose eight passing touchdowns are the fourth-most in Class 1A. As a unit, the Cougars average 5.6 yards per carry, led by running backs Noah Henderson and Jaxon Willems, who average over seven yards per carry.

Dike-New Hartford is 6-1 all-time against Sumner-Fredericksburg, but the teams haven’t met since 2015. The opening kickoff will be at 7:00 p.m. in Sumner.

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