Nevada football begins 3A playoff competition Friday at home against ADM
Friday will be a big day for the Nevada football program.
After spending decades as an also-ran program, the Cubs have earned the right to host a first-round playoff game after finishing the regular season ranked sixth in Class 3A with an 8-1 record. Nevada will take on 10th-ranked Adel-Desoto-Minburn (7-2) at Cub Stadium in Nevada.
"It's going to be awesome," Nevada quarterback James Edwards said. "I don't remember the last time Nevada hosted a playoff game. It's going to be a good game and a fun atmosphere."
Nevada ended the regular season by blanking North Polk, 35-0, at Nevada. The Cubs don't expect it to be quite so easy this Friday.
"Every team from here on out is going to be good," Edwards said. "We have to expect that."
The Cubs face a team with a similar philosophy on offense. ADM likes to use a power running game with a mobile quarterback.
"They're primarily out of a shotgun formation and do a lot of similar schemes that we do," Nevada head coach Andrew Kleeman said. "They're well-coached and fundamentally sound. Their quarterback runs the ball really well and throws well. They'll be a tough matchup."
Nevada and ADM have both faced Gilbert, Ballard and North Polk. Nevada's combined margin of victory is 98 points and ADM's is 57.
Matt Dufoe is the Tiger quarterback. Dufoe has completed 62% of his passes for 1,236 yards and 15 touchdowns with just five interceptions and he has also rushed for 886 yards and 11 scores.
Brevin Doll adds 874 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing for ADM. Chase Grove has 423 yards and five touchdowns.
Lucas Ray has 25 catches for 346 yards and four touchdowns as ADM's top receiver.
"ADM is nothing we haven't seen," Nevada safety Caleb Kooiker said. "They do a lot of read stuff. As long as our ends and outside backers can stay disciplined with their assignments I think we're stopping their offense, especially coming off a shutout last week."
Nevada has allowed just 11.1 points and 254.3 yards per game. The Cubs lead 3A in sacks with 22 and they've forced 23 turnovers.
Kooiker leads Nevada with 89 tackles and he also has two fumble recoveries. Linebacker Cael Franzen has 87 tackles and one fumble recovery. Defensive ends Gavin Melohn and Connor Schnettgoecke have six sacks apiece, cornerback Seth Brown has five interceptions and Ty Dittmer has 2.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries and interceptions apiece.
ADM uses a four-man front on defense. The Tigers are giving up 21 points and 259 yards per game.
"They're really fundamentally sound on the defensive side of the ball," Kleeman said. "They're just a good football team."
Vince Benetti has four sacks and Jacob Crystal three for ADM. Benetti and Crystal have combined for 23 tackles for loss.
Nevada counters with a power running game that ranks fourth in 3A at 242.9 yards per game. Edwards has 1,040 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing and running back Cason Stevenson 959 yards and 13 scores on just 97 carries.
"I think our offensive line is going to dominate like they have all season," Edwards said. "I'm not worried about them at all."
Nevada also features one of the best receivers in 3A. Senior Caeden DaSilva has 31 catches for 685 yards and eight touchdowns.
DaSilva may be due for a breakout game. He has nine receptions for 88 yards since making five catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns against Ballard.
"It's definitely frustrating if you don't have as many opportunities," DaSilva said. "But how I help the team is by blocking and on defense."
DaSilva could be the X-factor in the game for Nevada. But Kleeman said toughness in the trenches will be the biggest difference maker.
"If we can win the line of scrimmage that will be a big predictor of the outcome of the game," Kleeman said. "Obviously penalties and turnovers are always a big factor as well."
Nevada and ADM will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at Cub Stadium in Nevada.
Prediction: It didn't take long for Nevada to bounce back from the loss to Humboldt thanks to the team's mental toughness and the desire to get better before playoff time. That will help push the Cubs past ADM and on to the next round. Nevada 28, ADM 20.