WILTON, Iowa - As homecoming week hits Wilton, Beavers head coach Lance Pedersen is happy to be seeing an unranked opponent for the first time all season - Louisa-Muscatine.
But Pedersen insists the task doesn't get any easier for his football team.
"We're coming off a three-game stretch in which we had the toughest schedule in the state," Pedersen said. "But L-M is good and coach (Guy) Dierikx does a good job with them, so we have to come out and be ready to go."
Wilton is catching L-M as it starts to get healthy again.
According to Dierikx, Andy Sierra and Tim Ruiz, who were banged up against West Liberty last week, are expected to be ready against Wilton.
As for the rest of Dierikx's dubbed "cripple crew," quarterback Anthony Kruse returns after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the first quarter against Fort Madison.
Lineman Cole Lawrence is back following a concussion against Wapello two weeks ago.
"We will still be missing quite a few kids though," Dierikx said, "and will be calling upon some younger kids again."
Pedersen isn't worried about the distractions that come with homecoming festivities.
"Ever since I've been here, they know that from 3-6 p.m. (each day) I need their undivided attention," Pedersen said. "I do want them to have fun, but the ultimate goal is to win the game on Friday night."
The Beavers went 1-2 against their rigorous schedule to start the season, topping Sigourney-Keota, 45-21, after coming up just short against sixth-ranked Mediapolis, 28-21, in the opening week.
Top-ranked Iowa City Regina humbled Wilton last Friday, 35-0.
Wilton quarterback Dylan Stepleton and receivers Brandon Van Zandt and Seth Kaufmann have been more than reliable.
In the first two games of the season, Stepleton was 11-of-25 passing for 235 yards and four touchdowns. Kaufmann and Van Zandt are the recipients of two touchdown passes each with all of the team's receiving yardage between them.
"Coach Pederson has Wilton playing some very good and fundamental ball," Dierikx said.
"Dylan (Stepleton) is a phenomenal athlete and (Brandon) Van Zandt is a big, physical athlete.
"They also have a few kids who fly under the radar and can hurt you with the big play like Seth Kaufmann who has become a solid receiver for them."
Pedersen has his concerns about containing Sierra, who has rushed for 301 yards this season.
He is averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Blake Kemp also has 222 yards on the ground.
"They have a very good running attack," Pedersen said. "Andy Sierra is a good back and they run a double wing that makes him hard to find.
"They do have a good running attack and their defense flies to the football. It will be a tough challenge on Friday night."
The key to a win for the Beavers, Pedersen said, will be special teams.
"We'll have to be able to recover the onside kick," said Pedersen, "and contain Sierra on the kickoff return. We're going to have to control all three phases of the game."