Trojans look for chink in Cardinals' armor
WORTHINGTON -- After a 58-12 loss a week ago, the Worthington Trojan football team is trying to pick up the pieces and move on.
"I forgot about it; we're moving on," Worthington head coach Dennis Hale said. "There's nothing to benefit us by dwelling on that game. We picked up the pieces on Monday and started focusing on Luverne."
The Trojans (1-1, 1-3 ) will travel to Luverne tonight to face the defending Class AA state runner-up Cardinals (3-0, 4-0).
"They have a very good quarterback returning," Hale said. "They have good receivers and good running backs, that's why they are rated No. 2 in the state, and it's well deserved."
Luverne is coming off a 28-0 victory over Windom a week ago. Worthington's lone win came in a 26-12 victory over Windom in Week 3.
Cardinal quarterback Jeremy Hoff was 6-of-12 passing for 113 yards and threw for two touchdowns last week. He also ran for 75 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown scamper.
Zack Clark was the main threat as a receiver in the game. He caught three passes for 59 yards.
Luverne's main rushing attack is Phil Paquette. Paquette had 78 yards, while Mitch Bauman had 42 yards against the Eagles.
One of the main concerns for the Trojans will be containing the rushing attack behind a skilled offensive line.
"They run very well," Hale said. "Their offensive and defensive line is very good. Everything that I've heard from their opponents is that they are just an outstanding group defensively and offensively on the line of scrimmage. That certainly hasn't been our strength, so that's a huge concern."
However, with Hoff's passing ability, the Cardinal's continuity on offense will be trying on the Trojan defense.
"I see them trying to overpower us," Hale said. "When they are good, they usually try to run over us to start the game. Then they start mixing in the pass. They do everything well, so it's really tough for us to concentrate on stopping just the run or just the pass. They are a very balanced team, and that's a huge challenge for us."
The Trojans, on the other hand, are coming off one of their worst performances of the season.
"I thought the first three games we were getting better, but then we played a very good opponent, and we went downhill," Hale said. "Now, we have to start building again."
Quarterbacks Mike Vorwald and Kyle Vaske had a combined 84 yards in the air, while Adou Omot had 61 yards on the ground.
Tim Roos is the leading rusher this season and is averaging more than five yards per carry (186 yards on 37 carries).
Last week, the first quarter proved to be the difference in the game for the Trojans. They trailed Brandon Valley 25-0 after one quarter, so the first quarter will be a crucial time for Worthington against Luverne.
"It's very important to get off to a good start," Hale said. "Certainly, last week was an example of that. When you're down 25-0 after the first quarter, you lose what little confidence you had."
However, Hale said he is not concerned the game will get out of hand.
"I'm never afraid of (a blowout)," Hale said. "I've never played any team that I didn't think we could beat. We just need to go and play our best."
But, if the Trojans were to fall behind early, Hale admits it would be tough to recover.
"Against a quality team, it would be very tough (to come back from a poor start)," Hale said. "I don't think we can afford to get off to any more bad starts the rest of the year."
For the Trojans to compete with the Cardinals, they will once again focus on winning the turnover battle and committing fewer penalties.
"That'd be nice if we had a game where we didn't have (turnovers and penalties)," Hale said. "We might have a shot at winning the game. That is our goal."
On a positive note, Worthington has stayed away from the injury bug.
"I think we're healthy," Hale said. "This time of the year we haven't had anything major where we have kid on the sideline with a cast on his ankle or anything; we've been lucky."
After the Southwest Conference match-up tonight, Worthington will have three more conference games before the playoffs.
"We have a four-game season left until the playoffs, and we need to get better," Hale said. "Hopefully the last regular season game of the year, we'll play our best regular season ball so we can get confidence going into the playoffs."