Second half of season starts

Published 10:20 am Thursday, October 2, 2008

The second half of the season begins for the seven area teams and it will be an important stretch for each team. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva and Northwood-Kensett have the best records at 4-1 on the season and both have big tests. Other teams will look to finish out the season on a high note after a slow start.

Albert Lea at Faribault

The Tigers were dealt a big blow Monday when they learned that running back and safety Luke Grossman will miss the rest of the season. Grossman broke his fibula against Winona and the Tigers are going to miss his game-breaking ability. Hector Rivera and Matt Tiegs will see the majority of the work in the backfield but losing Grossman in the defense may have the biggest impact. Grossman was one of the team’s leading tacklers from his safety position.

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Faribault is coming off a 22-7 win over Rochester Century last week and is 3-2 on the season. The Falcons have had trouble putting up points in the Big Nine this season and have 46 points in four games. The 22 points against the Panthers was the most Faribault has scored.

What will be interesting to see is how Albert Lea responds to the loss of Grossman in the backfield. Tiegs has the ability to make big plays as well but doesn’t have the rushing numbers Grossman did. Grossman had 318 yards rushing on the season heading into the Winona game, but after coming out of the game in the first quarter, Albert Lea had just 37 yards rushing.

Key stats: 318 yards rushing for Luke Grossman, 320 for all other rushers for the Tigers. Faribault is averaging 17 points a game.

Alden-Conger vs. Nicollet

The Knights were in the midst of a five-way tie for first place in the Southern Confedercy Conference before their game against Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain, but lost 32-14.

Lucas Kleinschrodt has been the main cog in the offense for Alden-Conger and if the team can get off to a fast start things should in order for the Knights.

Nicollet has been shutout twice this season, against Hills/Beaver Creek and Edgerton, and lost 38-20 to ML/GHEC early in the season. The Raiders enter the game with a 2-3 record and are averaging 12 points a game.

Key stats: Alden-Conger 1-1 at home, Knights averaging 30 points a game.

Glenville-Emmons vs. Spring Grove

The Wolverines are still winless this season, but are playing in one of the tougher conferences in the state this season. Glenville-Emmons fell 54-10 to No. 4-ranked Houston last week at home.

The 10 points were the second-highest total the team has had this season. Michael Adams and Landon Hall are beginning to look like a solid passing connection and hooked up for a long pass play in the second quarter against Houston that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Garret Schumaker.

Spring Grove is 2-3 on the season and has won its last two games. The Lions defeated LeRoy-Ostrander 34-21 last week at home. Glenville-Emmons lost to LeRoy-Ostrander earlier in the year 22-6.

Wolverines head coach Derek Nelson said this is the game that could be the Wolverines win for the season and if that’s going to happen the offense has got to get going for Glenville-Emmons.

Key stats: Michael Adams 7-for-18 last week; Landon Hall 4 catches 49 yards.

Lake Mills at West Hancock

The Bulldogs pulled off another huge 41-21 win last Friday against Belmond-Klemme who entered the game undefeated in district play. It was another big win for a team that got out of the gates slow. The Bulldogs weren’t expected to challenge for a sub-state spot entering the season because they were so young, but they have found themselves doing well in district play. In fact Lake Mills could easily be 3-0 in district play if not for a fourth quarter comeback from Garner-Hayfield.

Jake Brekken has been a monster for the Bulldogs and rushed for 187 yards on 32 carries with four touchdowns last week. He now has 661 yards on the season with 8 touchdowns. The biggest surprise last week was the improved play of quarterback Brad Midlang. Midlang completed 9-of-10 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.

West Hancock is 1-4 on the season and 1-2 in district play. It’s become clear this season that the Eagles are not the same team that went 9-2 last season and made the state semifinals. Senior Jeremy Dodge and freshman Zac Schleuger have split time in the backfield. The Eagles picked up their first win of the season last week against West Fork.

Key stats: Jerod Harmon 15 catches for 191 yards on the season, 6 catches for 93 yards last week.

NRHEG at Minnesota Valley Lutheran

The Panthers saw quarterback Payden Peterson throw for four touchdowns and run for two more last week in a 58-8 win over Maple River last week and his emergence was important for NRHEG and its running game.

The Eagles tried to stop Greg Ramaker by stacking 10 in the box in the game, but Peterson’s passing opened up the rushing attack and Ramaker still rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Peterson finished the game 5-for-6 with 114 yards and his emergence helped make the Panthers multi-dimensional and that will surely help against a strong Minnesota Valley Lutheran team.

The Chargers are 4-1 on the season, the same as NRHEG, and their only loss came against Waterville-Elysian-Morristown three weeks ago. MVL grabbed a big win over Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop who is 3-2 on the season. It was the first conference loss for G-F-W on the season and it didn’t come easy as the Chargers won 21-14. It was the first loss in three games for G-F-W.

This game will likely determine second place in the Gopher Conference as it looks like the Buccaneers have a good chance to go undefeated in the conference this season. MVL is averaging 30 points a game this season and the Panthers are averaging 41 points a game and this one could turn into a shootout. The interesting feature of this game will be the defensive matchup as the most points the Chargers have allowed in a game is 20 and for NRHEG it’s 16.

Key stats: Payden Peterson 5-for-6 with 114 yards and four touchdowns. NRHEG has allowed 15 points per game and MVL has allowed 16 points per game. The series is tied at 2-2 over the last four years.

Northwood-Kensett vs. Tripoli

The Vikings rose to No. 7 in the Class A polls after a 29-7 win over Newman last week and seem to have found their stride. They are 4-1 on the season with their only loss coming to No. 2-ranked Emmetsburg in week two.

Sam Arnold emerged last week as another option at running back for N-K after a 196 yard night last week. His big game eased the workload on Phil Fierova. Fierova leads the team with 378 yards and Arnold has 329.

Tripoli is 2-1 in district play and 3-2 overall. The Panthers have a balanced offensive attack with Kristofer Schult leading the team in rushing with 597 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Drew Dettmering has thrown for 710 yards and 10 touchdowns.

It will be the first big test for the young secondary of Northwood-Kensett. The secondary has proven up to the task when teams have tried to exploit their youth, but haven’t faced a quarterback with the type of numbers Dettmering has this season.

Key stats: Ethan Milius 17 catches for 244 yards on the season for Tripoli. Sam Arnold 196 yards last week.

USC vs. Maple River

It’s homecoming week for United South Central and Friday is a big game for the Rebels as they face rival Maple River. The Eagles won 27-8 last year, but this is an opportunity for USC to pick up its second win of the season as Maple River is winless on the season. It would be the first two-win regular season in two years for the Rebels.

USC lost 42-20 last week to conference lead Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, but played a close game in the first half. Rebels’ quarterback Riley Swearingen passed for 127 yards last week and had two touchdown passes. The USC running game was less successful and ended with 10 yards total.

The closest the Eagles have come to winning was a 21-14 loss to Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop, but have been blown out in every other game.

Key stats: Riley Swearingen 10-for-17 with two touchdowns last year. Rebels had 10 yards rushing last week. Maple River has a three-year winning streak against USC.