The football season starts Friday for the Shenandoah Mustangs as they make the trip to Avoca to battle AHSTW.
It’s the first of only two non-district games this year after the Iowa High School Athletic Association announced in July that the season would be shortened to seven regular season games. Each team will qualify for the playoffs.
The Mustangs know they have a challenge to open the season against a Viking program that hasn’t had a losing season since 2011.
“AHSTW has been a dominant program for the most part recently,” Shenandoah head football coach Ty Ratliff said. “They have given us a good challenge each year and we haven’t been on the winning side.”
The Vikings won just five games last year after finishing second in the state two years ago. They return their quarterback, one of their top two running backs and two of their top five receivers from last season. They lost all of their top five tacklers from last season. The two teams met in Shenandoah last year with the Mustangs making a late rally to trim the final deficit to eight.
“We want to make sure we’re coming out with a lot of energy,” said Ratliff. “Our kids believe right now they can accomplish anything and are ready for the matchup.”
Shenandoah football took the field for the first time last Friday in the maroon and white scrimmage and Ratliff said it was an overall good experience.
“The scrimmage exposed a lot of things we have to work on,” said Ratliff, “and on the flip side a lot of things we did well. I thought everybody had a pretty fair shot to go showcase their skills. I thought the overall play was at a pretty high level, but we still have a lot of things to work on moving forward.”
Ratliff said it was huge to have July to work before official practices began. He said many of the kids were at a good starting point in picking up the offensive and defensive basics and they have gradually built on that during practice.
Kickoff time is set for 7 p.m. Friday in Avoca. The home opener for the Mustangs is the following Friday against Sidney.