Class 9-man state title game analysisMINNEAPOLIS — Here’s a look at Friday’s Class 9-man state championship football game between Wheaton/Herman-Norcross (12-1) and Edgerton/Ellsworth (13-0):
MINNEAPOLIS — Here’s a look at Friday’s Class 9-man state championship football game between Wheaton/Herman-Norcross (12-1) and Edgerton/Ellsworth (13-0):
When the Warriors have the ball
Wheaton/Herman-Norcross does not hide what it does. The Warriors are going to run the ball and then they are going to run the ball and then, just to switch things up a little bit, they will run the ball again.
The Warriors knocked off Kittson County Central 62-22 in the semifinals and threw two passes. In fact, the Warriors don’t even have a wide receiver listed in the team’s depth chart.
If a team lasts this long doing one thing, however, it must do one thing real well. The Warriors ran the ball 69 times for 459 yards and eight touchdowns versus KCC.
In the trenches
Behind an offensive line of Tanner Kirkeide, Austin Russell, Tanner Reinart, Evan Ellison and Brock Sweere, running backs Wolfgang Brink and Michael Persing have run wild this season, racking up 31 touchdowns and more than 2,100 yards rushing.
Brink has 1,316 of those 2,114 yards and 25 of those 31 touchdowns. Brink averaged nearly 10 yards per carry in the semifinals, running for 265 yards and six touchdowns on 27 carries versus KCC.
Ellison, Sweere, Austin Russell, Carter Thiel and Nick Stafford anchor a WHN defense which has given up an average of 8.6 points per game.
The Warriors will win if…
Edgerton/Ellsworth finds no answer for Brink.
When the Flying Dutchmen have the ball
Edgerton/Ellsworth has an offense that can do anything. Quarterback Isaac Heard has thrown for 2,377 yards and 30 touchdowns. Wide receiver Casey Schilling has caught 1,196 of those yards and 20 of those touchdowns. Defenses have had no fun picking their poison between the running back trio of Derek Voge (802 yards, 11 TDs), Devin Hulstein (806 yards, 12 TDs) and Blake Jouwstra (566 yards, 13 TDs).
Put this together and it’s an offense that averages over 54 points a game and a team that is 13-0.
After a shaky game in the quarterfinals, Heard was unstoppable in the Flying Dutchmen’s 48-20 victory over Ada-Borup in the semifinals. Heard completed his first 12 passes, went 17 for 19 through the air for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
In the trenches
Defensive end Johnny Menning holds the Minnesota high school record for career sacks with 45. With 66 tackles on the season and 23 sacks, Menning can disrupt any offense.
Voge, Jouwstra, Austin LaFollette and DC Claar lead a defense that gives up an average of 16.6 points per game. Most of those points have been given up after the outcome of the game has already been decided.
The Flying Dutchmen will win if…
Heard and the E/E offense gets off to a hot start. The Flying Dutchmen have outscored teams 279-12 in the first quarter this season. In the quarterfinals, the Flying Dutchmen offense started slow and the result was a 6-6 game at halftime. Heard was 5 for 15 for 81 yards, two interceptions and a fumble in that half. A slow start is fixable versus Nicollet, but if that happens in the state title game, the Flying Dutchmen could kiss their perfect season goodbye.
This will be the fourth matchup between the two teams in the last five years.
The Warriors defeated Edgerton 35-8 at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. in the Section 3 9-man finals in 2007.
After not playing in 2008, the new co-op of Edgerton/Ellsworth exacted some revenge in a 40-0 drubbing in the section semifinals in ’09.
A year ago, E/E again faced Wheaton in the section finals at the Fargodome. Thanks to three touchdowns by Jordan Gunnink — who now helps coach the Dutchmen — E/E was able to come away with a 22-16 victory against a tough Warrior team.