Your Prep Sports
Mount Vernon (1-0) at Class 3A No. 1 Solon (1-0)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Spartan Stadium
The Battle for Highway 1 returns to Spartan Stadium where Solon will attempt to extend its winning streak to an even two decades against its WAMAC Conference rival to the north Mount Vernon.
Lasts season Solon battled back from a 21-7 first-half deficit scoring 21 unanswered points to end the game in a 41-27 win over the Mustangs in Mount Vernon.
There hasn’t been a game decided by single digits in the series since 2016 and the Spartans have won the previous five meetings by an average of nearly 22 points per game.
If the rivalry needed another story line Solon head coach Lucas Stanton is a Mount Vernon graduate and is 2-0 against his alma mater in his time at Solon.
Players to Watch
Solon senior quarterback Blake Timmons has been among the most productive signal callers in the state over the past two seasons.
The 5-foor-10, 190-pound Timmons has been at his best against one of the Spartans’ biggest rivals in his career.
In two career starts against Mount Vernon Timmons has accounted for 470 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.
Timmons has thrown for 242 yards and two touchdowns without an interception and rushed for 228 yards and three scores against Mount Vernon the past two seasons.
Running back Henry Ryan or receiver/linebacker Jackson Jaspers or two-way lineman Clark Younggreen may be the best players on the Mount Vernon roster.
However, there may not be a more important player for the Mustangs on Friday than junior quarterback Joey Rhomberg.
After getting his feet wet at the varsity level last season the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Rhomberg was efficient in a week one win over Anamosa completing 20-of-29 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown.
Rhomberg had two interceptions in the opener and will need to cut down that number (more on this later) for Mount Vernon to pull the upset on Friday.
Keys to the Game
Solon – Stop the Run
Solon has controlled the line of scrimmage most years in the recent history of this rivalry.
When the Spartans haven’t had a significant advantage up front is when the games have gotten interesting.
Mount Vernon rushed for 266 yards in last year’s meeting, a game in which the Mustangs led for much of the first three quarters.
The closest Mount Vernon has come to a win over the Spartans in the past 15 yeas was a 26-21 loss at Solon in 2016. Mount Vernon out-gained Solon 255 to 132 on the ground in that game.
Outside of last year’s meeting and the 2016 game Mount Vernon has averaged just under 68 rushing yards per game against Solon since 2014 and Solon has won those six games by a combined score of 199-63.
Mount Vernon is solid up front and has an excellent back in Ryan who rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns in a week one win over Anamosa.
Win the line of scrimmage and Solon should be fine but allow Ryan to get out into space and the Mustang ground game to get going and things will get interesting in a hurry.
Mount Vernon – Hang on to the Ball
Mount Vernon had opportunities to stop its losing streak to Solon a year ago but was undone by four interceptions.
Turnovers have been a thorn in the side of the Mustangs many times during its 19 consecutive losses to Solon.
In the past five meetings with Solon the Mustangs are -14 in turnover margin and have thrown 13 interceptions.
Mount Vernon has committed 16 total turnovers in the past five meetings with Solon committing four or more in three of those games.
Both Teams – Special Teams
It’s a rivalry game. It should be close.
Call it a hunch but something says special teams end up playing a key role or swinging momentum in this one.
Both teams were solid in special teams in week one.
Solon got a special teams score as Nash Kotar returned a punt for a touchdown and the Spartans went 6-for-6 on PATs.
Mount Vernon converted all four of its PATs in the win over Anamosa, averaged better than 50 yards per punt and has a return weapon in Jaspers.
Whether it’s a big play or just solid special teams dictating field position expect special teams to make an impact on Friday.