The World-Herald named six honorary captains for the All-Western Iowa football teams — Nick Foss of Harlan and John McConkey of Atlantic in Class 4-A/3-A; Chance Cobb of Southwest Valley and Matt Fagan of Council Bluffs St. Albert in Class 2-A/1-A/A; and Thomas Hensley of CAM and Tyler Riebhoff of Audubon in Eight-Man.

In 2011 they signaled to the world — or at least the youth football community in west-central Iowa — that they were here to stay. The Audubon Warriors sixth-graders navigated a 7-0 regular season that year, only to lose a 22-20 heartbreaker to Sac City in the championship game of the padded West Central Iowa Youth Football League.

They have matched wits on the diamond for more than 30 years. More than 50 games, easily. Exira-EHK coach Tony Petersen shook hands with Coon Rapids-Bayard coach John Waddle on Thursday one last time between the white lines. 

Brett Daley’s pitching has steadily progressed. The Treynor junior was raw when he took the mound as a freshman. Cardinal coach Bob Mantell recalled a kid with a strong arm who was very unpolished. The velocity was there, but Daley didn’t have much else in his arsenal.

Audubon senior Mitchell Nelsen was involved in a case of mistaken identity Friday. Track fans across the state found out Saturday exactly who Nelsen is.

Meet Audubon’s Mitchell Nelsen, perhaps Iowa’s best example of an equal-opportunity athlete. As he finished junior high, friends told him he’d have to choose between cross country and football, sports in which he’d experienced success. He competed in both all four years of high school.

Treynor knew it was resilient. The team got a rare chance to prove it Friday night. The Cardinals traveled to Audubon as winners of 21 straight going back to before they claimed the Iowa Class 2-A state championship last season. Since suiting up this winter, they’d only endured two games decided by single digits.

The senior leads Audubon in scoring (14.1 points per game), free-throw shooting (93.3 percent) and steals (21). The Wheelers (7-4) will host Griswold on Friday.

Pick out one freshman, sophomore or junior walking the Underwood High hallways. That person is the difference between at least two more years of football familiarity and a foray into the unknown.

The senior is ranked 26th in Class 1-A by the Iowa Association of Track Coaches. He also is a standout on the Wheeler football team. He has accounted for seven touchdowns as a wide receiver and kick returner, and also plays defensive end.

Audubon junior setter Claire Olsen leads the Wheelers, averaging 7.38 assists per set. The Wheelers have won eight of their last 10 matches entering Thursday’s Western Iowa Conference contest at Underwood.

The words that came from Jameson Muxfeldt’s mouth certainly weren’t malicious, but they were telling. “We knew they were the No. 1 team, (or) so some people had them ranked,” the Logan-Magnolia senior lineman said.

Standing in the midst of his triumphant Audubon players and fans, co-coach Sean Birks said it would be hard to script a better opening night. Audubon fell behind AHSTW twice in the final 10:51. Both times, the Wheelers responded in spirited fashion.

It’s quickly become the most anticipated early-season event in Iowa high school football, and Audubon and AHSTW are thrilled to be in the middle of it.

For nearly three quarters, the closest Logan-Magnolia got to throwing the football came on a couple wide pitch plays. With a defense and rushing attack that played as physical as it did relentless, the Panthers were enjoying themselves just fine.