HCHS defensive lineman Allen Fries (55) refuses to let go of Osky quarterback Cole Henry’s jersey as Alex Schechinger (42) helps make the tackle during last week’s playoff game. Cyclone quarterback Preston Mulligan (4) prepares to take the snap from center Ethan Leinen (72) vs. Oskaloosa as Jacob Schechinger and Joey Arkfeld (54) get ready to block.

Cyclones hope history on their side in LC rematch

HCHS has avenged regular-season losses in the playoffs before, will need big turnaround vs. 2nd-ranked Titans

 COUNCIL BLUFFS (Nov. 2) -- It’s a tall task that awaits the Harlan Community football team Friday night, but also an enviable one.
 Forty-six Class 3A squads watching from the outside of the playoffs this week would love to still be playing.
 “Absolutely,” said HCHS head coach Curt Bladt, who is currently guiding his 36th Cyclone playoff team in 41 years at the helm. “It doesn’t come around every year and we’ve got to cherish it while we’ve got it and do the best we can with the challenge that faces us.”
 The challenge in front of the Cyclones (8-2 overall) is tonight’s 3A quarterfinal playoff game at 2nd-ranked Lewis Central (10-0). Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
 The talented Titans, first in 3A with an average of 425 yards per game, 9.6 yards per play and 50 points per game, have rolled past their first 10 opponents by at least 28 points apiece. Their lowest point total of the season is 42, which they’ve been “held” to three times.
 LC beat Harlan 49-14 in Week 7 and opened the playoffs last Friday with a 51-7 win over Carroll despite star quarterback Max Duggan going 0-for-6 in the first half with his first two interceptions of the year.
 HCHS is no doubt the underdog, but has posted its own impressive numbers this fall in averaging 36.8 points per game. The Cyclones rank fourth in 3A with 383.5 yards per game (7.0 yard per play) and boast 3A’s leading passer in Mulligan (2,430 yards, 29 TDs). Their only loss besides LC came against 5th-ranked Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 34-32, in Week 2.
 All of the pressure Friday will be on Lewis Central, which is seeking its first-ever trip to the UNI-Dome under the sometimes heavy burden of high expecations.
 Beating the Cyclones twice in one season has long been an elusive proposition for southwest Iowa teams. On the road to 12 state titles and eight runner-up finishes in program history, HCHS has avenged several regular-season defeats on its way to the dome.

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