The Noard family is having a reunion of sorts Friday in Wyoming, Ill.
Neither Galen Noard nor his son, Jade, are looking forward to it.
That’s because the father and son will be on opposite sidelines as Galen’s undefeated River Valley football team takes on Jade’s undefeated Stark County squad in a 7 p.m. Lincoln Trail Conference game.
“It’s not fun for a lot of reasons,” Galen said. “Obviously, one of us has to lose. The bigger reason is he does a heck of a job down there and he has some good kids. It’s just not fun.”
Jade’s not looking forward to it either.
“Generally, these games aren’t a whole lot of fun,” said Jade, who has his brother, Taul, as an assistant coach. “It’s a game you have to get through. I don’t get a whole lot of enjoyment out of it.”
While it may not be fun for the Noards, it’s a big game as each team enters 4-0. It’s especially big for the Falcons, who have never won four games in a season before.
“These kids have never been in a game of this magnitude before,” said Galen, who calls Stark County his team’s biggest test so far and the best team in the conference. “You want them to be excited and you want them to appreciate the experience, but you don’t want them to get so sky high they can’t play a good, solid, sound game. That’s what we’re shooting for. With a game of this magnitude, we want to make sure we compete, and I think we will.”
Neither father nor son expect many surprises come Friday. Jade grew up attending his father’s practices and played for his father in high school.
“We run some things that are similar to what he does at River Valley and we run a lot of things he did at other places,” Jade said. “Defensively, we’re a little different, but offensively, I’m sure he can pick out a lot of things that are probably his that I’ve stolen.”
Quarterback Ryan Daum leads a Stark County offense that averages 50.5 points per game. He has 11 touchdowns with no interceptions.
“I think we have to play keep away,” Galen said. “We have a power-type offense and they are a more finesse, spread-type offense. They have a lot of speed and are able to score quickly. I think we have to use our power offense and grind the clock down and be very conservative with the ball.”
Jade, who said his team has had trouble with strong running teams in the past, hopes to prevent the Falcons from chewing up the clock with their three-pronged rushing attack of Tom Miller (438 yards, 7 TDs), Nathan Helle (264 yards, 3 TDs) and Sam Poignant (307 yards, 3 TDs).
“We always tell our kids against teams like this we have to win first down to put them in situations they’re not as comfortable in — second and long and things like that,” Jade said. “If we can do that every once in a while, I think that will put us in good situations.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.