Rebounds and rivalryPublished 11:12am Thursday, September 19, 2013
It was a rough week for Fergus Falls football fans as all three teams fell in gridiron action Friday and Saturday.
The Fergus Falls Otters looked to surprise doubters last Friday as it held a 21-17 lead over state ranked Bemidji. But after the third quarter, the Lumberjacks were able to make their prescence felt as Fergus was held to nine points in the second half on the way to a 52-29 loss.
Even though the Otters lost, head coach Steve Olson found positives in last week’s contest.
“We were pleased with how we started the game. Our previous two games were a bit of a slow start for us,” Olson said. “We also know that we probably won’t see that kind of speed again this year but now we have seen it and shouldn’t be surprised anymore if we do see it.”
The Otters will once again be at home as it welcomes in Sauk Rapids-Rice.
The Storm have yet to win a game, but their schedule has been equally as daunting as Fergus’, playing games against Willmar, Bemidji and St. Cloud Apollo.
Fergus will have to prepare for a different offensive look than they have seen in recent weeks as the Storm have been known to run a true Wing-T offense.
Defensively, Sauk Rapids brings multiple defensive fronts including a 3-4 and 4-3.
The Otters will look to get back to more physical, sound football this week and will also hope to unleash the passing game that sparked Fergus in the first half of the Bemidji game.
The Comets also came away with a positive in the 42-36 loss to the Ashby Arrows.
“We gained a lot of confidence in our passing game,” Comet coach Charlie Brue said. “In the second half, our tackling improved.”
Brue expects the game to be high scoring as both teams have had great success on offense.
The Comets will have to spread the field to compete with a tough Verndale defense, while across the ball, Hillcrest will look to slow down the Pirates running attack led by quarterback Dillon Card.
Hillcrest should be at full health entering the game.
The Spartans fell to 1-2 after a torrential rain caused them to drop its second game in a row to the Vermillion Ironmen 22-7 Saturday.
The Spartans struggled offensively in the rain, while the defense could not limit the big play.
This week, M State travels to take on Southern Division rival Ridgewater Community College.
The Warriors have started the year 3-0, but have had several close calls.
This will also be Ridgewater’s homecoming adding another dynamic to the game.
The familiarity of the each team runs through its head coaches as Spartan head coach Steve King coached the Warriors Rob Baumgarn at the University of Minnesota – Crookston.
Look for this to be a battle between two heated rivals.
Friday night will mean hard hitting football in Underwood, as the Ashby Arrows take a short drive to meet the Underwood Rockets. Homecoming week for the Rockets coincides with this heated rivalry, in a game that should be even more of a battle with both teams at a 1-2 record and looking to get back to .500.
Facing off against an explosive offense that hit full-speed last week against Hillcrest, Underwood head coach Chuck Ross looks to use his defense to contain the Arrow attack.
“Going into each game, we have to pick out guys we make sure we contain,” Ross said. “What it comes down to is that each person on defense has to do their own job. If we can do that, I think we’ll be successful. You get into trouble when one guy sees something different and he’s going to bail someone else pout. If you guess wrong against good athletes, they’re going to make you pay.”
One of those players will certainly be Ashby quarterback Blake Ohren. Ohren went 9-14 for 119 yards passing and one score through the air last week against Hillcrest, and also had 12 carries for 125 yards and 2 touchdown on the ground.
Ross looks to his strong defensive front, led by Max Kollar who has been one of the top tacklers for the Rokets this season, to contain Ohren and the Ashby athletes.
Underwood will also need to counter the Ashby scoring attack with their steady run game, which is led by junior back Noah Thompson, who has carried the offensive load after an injury to senior A.J Montgomery.
With so much surrounding the historic game this year, Ross said the excitement for the game extends out of the locker room.
“Anytime we play Ashby, we’re close enough that the kids know each other and they compete against each other in other sports as well,” Ross said. “There seems to be a little more electricity in the air this week. Not only amongst the players, but past alumni seem to get excited about this game too. It’s always been a good, hard, clean game. That’s what makes it fun.”
The Otters, Comets and Rockets host 7 p.m. Friday games, while the Spartans hit the road Saturday for a 6 p.m. showdown with Ridgewater.