HCHS center Ethan Leinen (72) snaps the ball against Winterset in Week 9, flanked by Carter Bendorf (51) and Derec Weyer to his left. Leinen is a three-year starter for the Cyclones, who will take on 7th-ranked Oskaloosa in the first round of the 3A playoffs October 26. Cyclone linebacker Wyatt Schaben (left) tackles Winterset’s Hunter Pashek last Friday. Schaben leads HCHS with 64 tackles.

HCHS vs. Osky matches two high-octane offenses

Cyclones open Class 3A playoffs against 7th-ranked Indians; QBs Mulligan, Henry among state’s best

 OSKALOOSA (Oct. 26) -- When the Harlan Community football team travels 163 miles to face Oskaloosa in Friday’s Class 3A playoff opener, it will meet an opponent with strikingly-similar offensive credentials.
 The 7th-ranked Indians (8-1) have totaled the sixth-most yards in 3A with 3,446 and scored 46 offensive touchdowns. The unranked Cyclones (7-2) are seventh in 3A with 3,432 total yards to go with 45 touchdowns.
 HCHS leads its class with 2,307 passing yards on 122 completions and has rushed for 1,125. Osky has the fourth-best passing offense (2,092 on 148 completions) while rushing for 1,354.
 So it may come down to who has the better defense when tonight’s game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. inside the spacious Lacey Sports Complex.
 Or, maybe one team catches the other off guard with a new formation, the breaking of a tendency or a trick play that has yet to be unveiled.
 “We’ve got a couple of wrinkles we’re going to try to do and see if they can answer the questions. I’m sure they’ll quiz us a little bit too and see if we got our homework done,” said HCHS head coach Curt Bladt.
 Defensively, the Cyclones appear to have an edge after finishing the regular season with back-to-back shutouts vs. Creston and Winterset. HCHS has outscored its nine opponents 332-132 despite allowing a combined 83 points in losses to No. 2 Lewis Central (49-14) and No. 5 Sergeant Bluff-Luton (34-32).
 Oskaloosa - outscoring the opposition 367-188 - has faced just one team that is currently ranked, beating No. 6 Pella 36-35 in an overtime Week 7 game. The Indians lost their season opener 51-33 to a 1A Pella Christian team that is 6-3.

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