HCHS aims to improve at 9th-ranked Pella

 PELLA (Sept. 4) -- For as well as the Harlan Community football team played a week ago in beating Grinnell 40-28, the goal this Friday night - maybe the requirement - is an even better performance at Pella.
 The Cyclones (1-0) trailed four separate times in last week’s season opener but rolled up 549 yards of offense against a highly-regarded opponent. They are ranked fourth in this week’s first Associated Press Class 3A poll of the year.
 Pella, meanwhile, was outgained 312-163 and ran just 43 plays from scrimmage in a surprising 30-6 defeat at Dallas Center-Grimes - this week’s 3A number one. The Dutch (0-1) are ranked ninth.
 What last week’s results have to do with this week’s results remains to be seen, but HCHS head coach Todd Bladt is certainly looking for improvement when the Cyclones kick things off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pella High School.
 “We had a lot of places we can improve. The kids saw that watching film and they’re going to do their best to improve and get better this week, because if you’re not getting better you’re getting worse,” Bladt said.
 “Typically, with almost every football season that’s ever been played, you see the most improvement in a football team from week one to week two. We’re not trying to be the anomaly here."
 Tonight marks the first-ever regular season game between the Cyclones and Dutch, but they have met four times in the playoffs.
 HCHS won the first three, including a 35-14 state championship game victory in 2009 - the last of the Cyclones’ state-leading 12 state titles. Pella has won three titles since them (2014, 2015, 2016) and held off a furious second-half comeback to beat Harlan 41-39 in the 2017 3A semifinals.
 Bladt is quick to note that last week’s 30-6 final score at DC-G was a little deceiving.
 “When you watch the film, they’re down 7-6 at halftime and then things got away from them a little bit,” he said. “They kind of got forced to do some things that they’re not real comfortable  doing - throwing up big passes and what not. They want to grind the rock and kind of wear you down and it was kind of the exact opposite (that) happened with DC-G grinding them out."

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