Trojans look to turn things around against Pipestone Area
WORTHINGTON -- Coming off a last-minute non-conference loss to Fairmont last week, the Worthington Trojan football team looks to rebound in their Southwest Conference opener.
The Trojans (0-1) will travel to Pipestone Area to face the Arrows (1-0) today at 7 p.m.
The Arrows are coming off a 19-6 victory over Lac Qui Parle Valley last week, while Fairmont defeated the Trojans, 12-6.
"It certainly was a game that was up for grabs for both teams," Worthington head coach Dennis Hale said of last week's loss. "They made some plays that we didn't make, and that turned out to be the difference in the game."
Tonight's match-up will be the second consecutive road game for the Trojans to start the season. However, that doesn't bother Hale.
"We have four games at home and four on the road, and everybody knows that," Hale said. "It doesn't really matter when they come, because if we go on the road now twice, we have a couple of games in a row at home down the road."
However, the more important factor for Hale and the Trojans is that tonight's game is the first step to what Hale hopes is a conference championship season.
"I think we make a bigger deal out of conference games," Hale said. "Not that we forget the other ones, but the conference championship is always first and foremost a goal, and this is the start of it. If we were to win the game, we'd be 1-0 in the conference, and suddenly, losing to Fairmont wouldn't be quite so painful."
In the Arrows' victory last week, quarterback Doug Mead threw for 87 yards and ran for two more. Sam Schneider was the main force on the ground, rushing for 78 yards.
"They are a very athletic team," Hale said. "They've really had a good run of athletes at their skill positions. It's going to be a very tough game for us."
A key this week for the Trojans will be to prevent turnovers.
"Fairmont had a number of turnovers, which we didn't necessarily take advantage of, but we turned the ball over a number of times," Hale said. "But if you eliminate those turnovers, you certainly have a better chance of winning."
Last week, the Trojans caught the turnover bug. They threw three interceptions and lost another fumble.
"I don't have a key that I can say abracadabra and we won't turn the ball over," Hale said. "But we sure emphasize not turning the ball over."
On the opposite side, the Trojan defense returned the favor. Worthington forced five fumbles and picked off one Cardinal pass.
"I think Fairmont will look at their film like we looked at ours and say we have a lot of improving to do," Hale said. "I don't know that either team played all that well, and they just happened to be the winner."
With many players suffering from cramps last week, the Trojans are taking extra precautions to try and avoid heat-related problems tonight.
"I guess the biggest thing we have to do is tell them to hydrate tonight," Hale said. "I don't think our kids understand that drinking water, Powerade or Gatorade the night before really helps for that, so I think we need to make them more aware of that."
When the two teams take the field, Hale said the Trojan secondary against the Arrows receiving core will be a key match up to watch. Another key is the play in the trenches.
"We need to control the line of scrimmage better than we did at Fairmont," Hale said. "Our key match ups lie on the defensive side."
With a more wide-open offense facing the Trojans tonight, defense will be a focal area.
"You win championships with defense, and our defense played for the most part, pretty good at Fairmont," Hale said. "Hopefully we can continue that level. Pipestone presents more problems. They are more wide open than Fairmont's attack."
With not a lot of changes made this week for Worthington, Hale is just looking for improvement.
"We're not making any wholesale changes, because we just need to improve," Hale said. "We played one game and we weren't very good that game, but we're dealing with young kids and hopefully we can rebound."