PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: WHS hoping to slow down potent Tigers
WORTHINGTON -- With Marshall ranked as the No. 8 team in Class AAAA in the state of Minnesota, Worthington head coach Brad Grimmius knows that it's going to take an upset for the Trojans to come out on top in tonight's matchup against the Tigers at Trojan Field.
However, Grimmius has already shared with his players the blueprints as to exactly how they can pull off such an upset.
"We talked about the top four things this week of what we have to do to pull off an upset against a very talented Marshall team," Grimmius said. "They've been just destroying people, they've been putting 50 points up on the board average and they've only been giving up eight. We know we've got a tall task ahead of us."
With WHS coming off of an unsatisfying performance against Luverne last week, the first two ingredients to success for the Trojans tonight will be to enter the contest with a much better mental approach and to make sure that they execute their game plan efficiently.
"The first thing we have to do with our approach this week is we mentally have to win the ball game before the game starts," Grimmius said. "Number two, we've got to have proper execution. They're going to be a lot bigger than us, they're going to be faster than us, so we have to execute every play to the utmost. We cannot take any plays off."
While Worthington was still in contention against the Cardinals last week despite a subpar first-half performance with the score at 15-8 at halftime, the team dropped off in the second half and failed to make the contest a battle right to the end.
The third key to success tonight will be for the Trojans to trend in the opposite direction throughout the game than they did against Luverne.
"The best that we've ever played has to be on the first snap, and we've got to continually climb the ladder throughout," Grimmius said. "Those are the things that we hit on all week long, the three big things."
The final ingredient for a WHS upset will be to make the Tigers pay dearly when they give up a turnover.
"The fourth thing we talked about, we've got to capitalize on turnovers," Grimmius said. "Those four things -- when college teams do it, when high school teams do it, those are the four things that it comes down to to pull off a huge upset."
Though Grimmius notes that Marshall has no particular weak points in its lineup, he has no doubt in his mind what the strongest part of the team is -- senior running back Beau Bofferding.
"When Reggie Bush was in his prime in college and at the NFL level, that's what he is," Grimmius said. "Their go-to guy is Beau. They're going to split him out, they're going to put him in the backfield. They get him the ball and the guy, he's good. He's easily going to be a top-three running back in the state this year all the way across out of all classes because that's just how good he is."
Tonight will be the final scheduled home game for Worthington and may be the final game at Trojan Field for the team's five seniors depending how the playoff bracket shapes up.
"Those five seniors, they're great leaders for us," Grimmius said. "They have definitely made Trojan football better. It's always hard to see them play their last game, but the thing is we've got a lot riding on these last two games."
Worthington is currently in the midst of a contest for the No. 4 through No. 8 rankings in the Class AAA, Section 3 tournament with teams such as New Ulm, Dassel-Cokato, Redwood Valley and Watertown-Mayer.
A win against the Tigers would go a long way toward ensuring that the Trojans will be able to play a home game in the playoffs.
"There's a lot to shake down in our section because No. 4 through No. 8 are wide open right now," Grimmius said. "If we pull this upset off, we're guaranteed a home playoff game, because that's a huge win for us. If we don't, there's a couple of things that have to play out, but if we pull off the win next week we have a shot at a home playoff game."
WHS will end its regular season with an important matchup against Redwood Valley, which will be played in Redwood Falls on Wednesday -- giving the Trojans only four days between games.
Tonight's game will be Meet the Trojans Night for the team, with players available to meet fans and sign autographs after the game.
Also as part of the occasion, the players will walk onto the field before the national anthem hand-in-hand with players from Worthington's team in the Midwest Youth Football League.
"It's a huge event for those youth players, they get to walk with their hero out on the football field," Grimmius said. "It's walking with the Trojan football players -- it's like walking with an NFL football player. They think they're walking on water."
With its current 3-3 record, Grimmius said that his team is glad to be in the thick of the race for a top seed in the playoffs as the regular season reaches its end compared to the situation the team was in a year ago.
"It's a lot better feeling than we had last year when we just worried about making the playoffs," Grimmius said. "Here, we could get a home game if we play well."