Regular season comes to close

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The regular season for prep football will come to a close Wednesday for the Minnesota teams and with that comes some big rivalry matchups. Albert Lea plays Austin in Austin and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva will travel to Wells to face United South Central in one of the area’s most heated rivalries.

For some teams section seeding is at stake and for others the final game is a chance to add to the win column. Either way there will be some exciting games Wednesday.

Albert Lea (1-6, 0-6) at Austin (2-5, 1-5)

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When these two teams get together anything can happen and this time around it’s likely to unpredictable again.

Albert Lea defeated Austin twice last season, once in the last regular season game and then again in the first round of the section playoffs. The series is at 3-2 over the last four years.

The Packers have two wins on the season, a season-opening 27-8 win over Red Wing and a 38-21 victory over Mankato East. The rest of the season has been a struggle filled with narrow losses for Austin. Outside of a 42-13 loss to Owatonna and a 38-14 loss to John Marshall, the Packers have lost by a total of 12 points to Faribault, Century and Winona.

Jerrad Ryks leads the team in rushing with 891 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Albert Lea was handed another setback last Friday against Century when starting cornerback Logan Kortan suffered a concussion. Kortan will miss the game Wednesday and his return is not known yet. The Tigers are already dealing with the loss of starting safety Luke Grossman who is out for the season with a broken fibula. Michael Hutchinson has filled in the secondary and came up with an interception last Friday as did Jared Talamantes. The defense still held Century to 117 yards passing.

The Tigers have had trouble taking care of the football in the last three games. Albert Lea has 15 turnovers in its last three games. The offense has shown the ability to pull off the explosive play throughout the season, even without Grossman in the lineup at running back. Matt Tiegs turned in a 97-yard touchdown catch against Century last week and he scored a pair of touchdowns against Faribault the week before. The Tigers will need that explosive play against Austin Wednesday night.

Key stats: 15 turnovers for Albert Lea in last three games, Jerrad Ryks 891 yards rushing with 11 touchdowns

Alden-Conger (4-3, 4-3) at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton (1-6, 1-6)

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Knights this season. At times they have played with the best in the conference and other times they haven’t. Alden-Conger knocked off Hills-Beaver Creek in week four, but was beat by Westbrook-Walnut Grove 41-32 and Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Martin Luther 32-14. Last week against Edgerton the Knights competed in the first half before special teams troubles hurt their chances. Three blocked punts gave Edgerton good field position and it took advantage all three times.

This week will give Alden-Conger a chance to enter the postseason on a high note and a possible No. 1 seed for the section playoffs.

J-W-P has just one win this season and that came against winless Madelia in week three. J-W-P put up 50 points in that game, but hasn’t produced more than 14 in any other game.

Alden-Conger is reeling from injuries right now and this game will give players another week to get healthy before the playoffs.

The running game for the Knights was strong two weeks ago as they put up 448 yards against Nicollet, but last week against Edgerton was a different story as the team had only 81 yards rushing. Much of that had to do with the passing game working well for Alden-Conger. Quarterback Lucas Kleinschrodt finished with 208 yards passing.

Key stats: J-W-P 14 points per game average Alden-Conger 208 yards passing from Lucas Kleinschrodt

Glenville-Emmons (0-7, 0-7) at Lyle/Pacelli (2-5, 2-5)

The Wolverines will give it another shot at picking up a win Wednesday against Lyle/Pacelli, but last time out against the Athletics Glenville-Emmons lost 50-14. In that game Michael Adams threw for 172 yards.

Adams has shown improvement at quarterback this season and the passing game has made strides for the Wolverines.

Lyle/Pacelli hasn’t won since the second game of the season and will be hungry to pick up another win against Glenville-Emmons. The Athletics are averaging 25 points a game.

Key stats: Michael Adams 172 yards passing against Lyle/Pacelli in the previous meeting. Athletics average 25 points per game.

NRHEG (6-1, 5-1) at USC (2-5, 2-4)

This game has been circled on the calendar for both teams since the end of last season when USC upset NRHEG in the first round of the section playoffs. It was the second win of the season for the Rebels and it was against one of their biggest rivals. The Panthers were undefeated at the time and were the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. So needless to say, this game is a big one for both teams.

NRHEG has cruised through much of the season with the exceptions being a 16-12 loss to Waterville-Elysian-Morristown and a 15-14 win overtime win over Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop last Friday. The game against G-F-W probably shouldn’t have been as close as it was, but the Panthers had three touchdowns called back because of penalties.

USC is on the uptick after pulling off an upset 29-25 win against Minnesota Valley Lutheran last Friday and that momentum could be just what the Rebels need to further fuel them against NRHEG. The USC defense played well in the later stages of the game and got three stops late in the game to preserve the win. The Rebels will need another performance like that against a powerful Panthers offense to stay within striking distance.

Key stats: 207 yards of rushing last week for the Panthers. Riley Swearingen 193 yards passing against MVL, Rebel defense allowed 43 yards rushing