Top-ranked (8-man) Newell-Fonda and No. 3 (Class 1A) Emmetsburg will look to secure spots in the state football semifinals this evening.
The Mustangs will host No. 7 Marcus-MMC, while the E-Hawks travel to fourth-ranked IKM-Manning. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in both quarterfinals.
Winners advance to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls next week.
Newell-Fonda (11-0 overall) has become a regular to the postseason, qualifying each of the past three seasons. This, however, is the farthest the Mustangs and head coach Brian Wilken have advanced during the time.
For Emmetsburg, state berths and deep postseason runs are nothing news. The E-Hawks (10-1) are making a state-best 37th appearance in the playoffs. They own nine crowns over three different classes.
The semifinals for 8-man and 3A begin Thursday, while A and 4A take the field on Friday. Class 1A and 2A will go down on Saturday, with championship games taking place Thursday, Nov. 16 and Friday, Nov. 16.
Here's a closer look at the two Messenger-area games taking place this evening:
No. 3 EMMETSBURG (10-1) at No. 4 IKM-MANNING (11-0)
For the E-Hawks, it all starts with Andrew Wellik.
The senior has helped lead Emmetsburg to the No. 2 rushing mark in the entire state. Wellik's numbers alone are video game-like, as the tailback has rushed 216 times for 2,369 yards and 32 touchdowns.
While Wellik did his damage in a second round win over fifth-ranked St. Edmond - rushing for a school-record 358 yards and four touchdowns - the E-Hawk defense flexed their muscle as well. Emmetsburg kept a Gael unit averaging 31 points per game off the scoreboard.
Austin McCartan anchors the defense, recording 103 tackles this year. Mitch Petersen checks in at 83 tackles, while Nick Schany has 79 stops.
The E-Hawks have forced 31 turnovers this season, led by Jake Jackson's 10 interceptions - most in the state.
IKM-Manning has been a balanced offense throughout the year, as Scott Opperman has thrown for 758 yards (37 of 78 with 13 touchdowns to just four interceptions), while Sam Wegner has rushed for a team-high 801 yards as a sophomore.
Devontay Hocken (518 yards rushing), Shayne Wiese (497) and Cody Eischeid (466) have all contributed when called upon.
Wiese also leads the IKM defense with 180 total tackles this year, while Wegner has four picks and Hocken four fumble recoveries.
Emmetsburg and IKM share three common opponents: Manson Northwest Webster, Ridge View and St. Edmond.
The E-Hawks outscored those three teams, 112-21, while IKM beat Ridge View easily (28-7), but topped St. Edmond (7-6) and Manson NW (20-16) in much closer contests.
The winner of this game will face either No. 7 Mount Ayr (11-0) of No. 8 Council Bluffs St. Albert (10-1) in the semifinals on Nov. 10. The other side of the bracket features second-ranked Dike-New Hartford (11-0) vs. No. 6 Aplington-Parkersburg (9-2) and 10th-ranked Maquoketa Valley (10-1) vs. defending state champ and top-rated Iowa City Regina (11-0)
No. 7 MARCUS-MMC (11-0) at No. 1 NEWELL-FONDA (11-0)
The Mustangs have ran for 3,714 yards this season, good for an average of 9.6 yards each time someone carries the ball - tops in the state.
The total mark is sixth-best in the entire state; not bad for a team that plays on an 80-yard field.
Despite missing several quarters of late action with the outcomes of games no longer in doubt, Jonathan Johnson has ran for 1,397 yards on 111 carries. The senior has scored 25 rushing touchdowns, has posted five receiving scores on just eight receptions, and has converted four two-point plays.
Don't think for a second, though, that Newell-Fonda is a one-man machine. Senior quarterback Zak Sievers has ran for 806 yards and passed for 959, while Brady Bohe has rushed for another 640.
Sievers and Bohe have a combined 23 touchdowns on the ground, with Sievers throwing for another 16 TDs - and zero interceptions in 81 attempts.
Rigo Johnson is the defensive leader, having recorded 159 tackles, including 68 solo stops, and eight fumble recoveries. Dalton Anderson has six of the 20 interceptions for the Mustangs.
Marcus-MMC's main offensive weapon is senior quarterback Tanner Utesch. Through the air, Utesch is completing 87 of 129 for 1,529 yards and 30 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He also has 675 yards rushing and 12 scores.
Classmate Andrew Hoefling has rushed for 1,294 yards and 22 touchdowns, while catching 25 balls for 431 yards and eight scores.
Jake Meehan (32 receptions, 531 yards, 9 TDs) and Isaiah Petersen (17-354-10) provide two more capable targets for Utesch.
If anyone on the MMC defense is going to give Sievers his first interception this year it is likely to be Dylan Spieler, as the junior has picked off eight passes.
The winner takes on either No. 4 Exira-EHK (11-0) or Glidden-Ralston (9-2) in the semis on Nov. 8 in Cedar Falls. The other half of the bracket boasts third-rated Don Bosco (10-0) vs. No. 10 Clarksville (10-1), and ninth-ranked Adair-Casey (10-1) vs. No. 2 Murray (11-0).