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Trojans look for road victory against Cardinals

WORTHINGTON -- If the Worthington Trojan football team is going to make the playoffs, it's now or never.

"We're in last place, so if we continue losing, obviously, we'll stay in last place," Worthington head coach Dennis Hale said.

The Trojans (1-3, 1-5) find themselves looking from the bottom up in a nine-team section. Only the top eight teams will advance to the playoffs this season, and Hale described the playoff outlook as "bleak."

Worthington did not help its cause in a 28-0 loss last week at the hands of Marshall.

"The Marshall game did not go well, period," Hale said. "They dominated us. I can't tell you anything that we did well."

Tonight, the Trojans will be on the road to face Redwood Valley (1-3, 3-3) in a Southwest Conference tilt.

"We need to pick ourselves off the ground," Hale said. "We're still waiting to play that best game of the year, and hopefully, we'll do that against Redwood Valley."

The Cardinals are coming off a 22-0 victory over Windom a week ago.

"They throw a lot and spread you out," Hale said. "They have similar formations to ours, and they've been doing that ever since coach (Matt) Lundeen has been there."

Hale said that because of RV's system, it's a fun opponent to play.

"Their system is exciting," Hale said. "They put the ball in the air, so they are fun to watch and fun to play. As an old defensive back, I like to see the ball in the air. It's a game that we always look forward to."

However, a week ago, the Cardinals found the end zone twice on the ground -- both plays from Mahlon Zimmerman.

"The years that they have good players, they are very tough," Hale said. "The years they don't have as good of players, they're not as good, just like everybody else."

Defensively, facing RV will be almost like looking in a mirror.

"Both teams are playing against the formations that they started the year out against," Hale said. "Coverages are more familiar then when you play Windom with their bunch attack or somebody running the wing-T like Marshall. This is probably more familiar to both teams."

For Hale and the Trojans, the key will be how well Worthington can continue to recover after a losing week.

"You go into the year, and you have high expectations, and if you're not reaching your goals, you have to learn to deal with that," Hale said. "Hopefully, we find the magic or whatever it takes to play harder and execute better. I think if we're able to do that one time, maybe it would be contagious."

Offensively, the Trojans have struggled to find pay dirt. In six games this season, Worthington has scored just 51 points (8.5 per game), with 26 of those coming in Week 3 against Windom.

"It would be nice if we scored," Hale said. "We're really struggling all year on offense, so a match-up is our offense against their defense. We need to get some points on the board and see what happens."

Last week, Worthington managed just 16 yards on the ground and was led by Kyle Vaske (7-16, 67 yards) through the air.

But for Hale, the loss provides another opportunity to learn a life lesson.

"Athletics is little life lessons; we're learning to pick ourselves up," Hale said. "We have to pick ourselves up again. We've been knocked down a lot. One of the things in sports you learn is how to deal with success and how to deal with failure."

Even though the Trojans enter in the midst of a three-game losing streak, there won't be too many changes.

"Personnel-wise, we keep experimenting by moving people here and there," Hale said. "When our starting line-ups are announced, they will look the same, but during the course of the game, we might insert people into different positions to give them a look and see if we can get a little spark."

As the Trojans prepare for a must-win game, Hale's goals are simple.

"We have to score more than Redwood, that's what we need to do," Hale said.