The first home game of the gridiron season is set for this Friday night at Emmetsburg's Duane Twait Field. After the opening night 46-21 win over Spencer last week, one might think the E-Hawks are ready to fly high for the season.
However, there is one small detail to be addressed before anyone can think about the approaching district campaign.
That detail is a visit by the Nighthawks of Boyden-Hull-Rock Valley, the top-ranked team in Class 2A, to Emmetsburg this Friday evening.
The E-Hawks can't afford to look any further than this Friday night, according to Head Coach Mike Dunlap.
"Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley has great speed and great athletes. Their quarterback is exceptionally fast and talented,"?Dunlap noted. "The went 11-1 last year and have 22 seniors and 24 juniors on their team. They're ranked number one in Class 2A for a reason."
There is a little history between the E-Hawks and what was then the team known as Boyden-Hull, dating back to 2003, when the two teams met in a playoff game.
Since that time, Rock Valley has joined into the mix to become the Nighthawks, a team that has been a perennial contender for the past several years.
"They operate out of the Spread offense,"?Dunlap noted, "and work from the shotgun, using the fly sweep and power. Passing-wise, they use verticals and the bootleg"
On defense, again, the Nighthawks' speed creates a tremendous concern for the E-Hawk leader.
"The play a 4/4 defense and multiple defenses from that,"?Dunlap said. "They are just a very solid, quality football team."
After capitalizing on four Spencer turnovers in the first half of last week's game, the E-Hawks still found areas of concern coming into this Friday's game.
"We have lots of things that we need to clean up,"?Dunlap acknowledged. "We've got to clean up the penalties, our tackling on defense and we just have to play assignment football on both offense and defense and our special teams."
As part of the home opener, the E-Hawks will honor the Honorary Captain during the pre-game coin toss.
Former Emmetsburg Superintendent John Gannon has been selected as the Honorary Captain for Friday's game.
Gannon served the Emmetsburg schools as Superintendent for 18 years, from 1970 until his retirement in 1988. A 1941 graduate of Pocahontas Catholic High School, Gannon served under General Claire Chennault in China during World War II as a member of the Flying Tigers.
Following his military service, Gannon attended Buena Vista College, graduating in 1950. John married in 1950 and he and Marge celebrated 60 years of marriage before her death in 2010.
The Gannons raised six children; Patricia Escue of Houston TX, Mike Gannon of Bellingham WA, Kevin Gannon of Seattle, WA, Mary Kay Larson of Seattle, WA, Donna Connelly of San Francisco, CA and Rob Gannon of Emmetsburg.
John's career as an educator and administrator included a ten-year stint on the Iowa High School Athletic Association's Board of Control from 1973 to 1983, where he was instrumental in the creation and introduction of the Football Playoffs. Gannon was also involved in the growth of the State Wrestling Tournaments, and helped develop the advance reserved ticket sales procedures still used today for the State Wrestling Championships.
John Gannon helped develop the current Emmetsburg High School athletic fields, as the high school was one year old when he came to Emmetsburg.
His greatest accomplishment is the numbers of outstanding educators and coaches he hired during his tenure of Superintendent of the Emmetsburg Community Schools.