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High school football: Intriguing mix of games on tap for Friday

WORTHINGTON —Friday’s slate of area high school football games offers an intriguing mix. 

For the unbeaten teams, a question looms: Will good luck hold?

That’s surely what at least a few fans are thinking in the northwest Iowa towns of Sibley and Ocheyedan. The Generals, who suffered through a highly disappointing 1-8 campaign a year ago, are 2-0.

In other unbeaten hamlets like Edgerton and Ellsworth, there may be a slightly different mindset. The Flying Dutchmen, who went undefeated in a 2011 state championship year, finished off a 9-2 season in 2012 and have looked practically invincible so far in 2013. Who can stop them?

It probably will not be their next opponent. More on that later.

Shall we talk about invincibility? Last Friday, the Mountain Lake Area Wolverines dominated a Renville County West team to the tune of (this is not a misprint) 91-7. Let’s spell that out: Ninety-one to seven. The Wolverines outscored RCW 53-0 in the first quarter alone.

West didn’t get a first down in the entire first half. The second half was played with a running clock, but fans were left with little doubt as to the imbalance of the matchup.

(OK, we know you’re wondering already, so we’ll tell you. MLA and E-E go head-to-head on Oct. 11).

For now, at least, area teams Edgerton-Ellsworth, Sibley-Ocheyedan, Mountain Lake Area, Westbrook-Walnut Grove, Luverne and Adrian have managed to escape the dreaded “L.” Every week brings the inevitable possibility that one, or more, will taste defeat.

Here are the games on tap for Friday: Jackson County Central at Pipestone Area, Blue Earth Area at Windom Area, Worthington at Redwood Valley, Luverne at Marshall, Lakeview at Adrian, Murray County Central at Dawson-Boyd, Renville County West at Edgerton-Ellsworth, Mountain Lake Area at Hills-Beaver Creek, Westbrook-Walnut Grove at Nicollet, Red Rock Central at Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s, Sibley-Ocheyedan at Alta-Aurelia, Cherokee Washington at Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, Unity Christian at Sheldon and Remsen Union at Harris-Lake Park.

A 2-0 Luverne Cardinals team will face a 0-2 Marshall team, but nobody should count the Tigers out in this one. Marshall is the defending Southwest Conference champion and had gone 27-4 over the last three seasons heading into 2013. MHS entered this season with just 10 seniors and two returning starters in camp, however, and Friday’s game should help decide much.

Last Friday, as Luverne shut out Worthington 20-0, Fairmont defeated the Tigers 15-2. MHS, which averaged almost 43 points a game in 2012, has scored just 15 points in their first two games.

Speaking of struggling offenses, the Worthington Trojans have yet to score in 2013. This week’s opponent, Redwood Valley, opened the season with a 21-15 victory over Mora and lost its second game to Jackson County Central, 26-2. Amazingly, the Trojans will be facing their third straight Cardinals team on the road this week (they opened with a 26-0 loss to Fairmont).

In order to jump-start the offense, WHS head coach Brad Grimmius has made some changes, moving running back Will Dudley to quarterback, Brandon Gray to running back and Blake Schroeder to wide receiver. He has also added sophomore Torey Rogers at middle linebacker.

“What it still comes down to, we gotta put the ball in the end zone,” Grimmius said Wednesday.

The Trojans have shown themselves capable of moving the football, but blown assignments and penalties have kept them from finishing drives.

Redwood Valley’s tendency to put the ball in the air should challenge Worthington’s defense, but any way you cut it, Grimmius expects the game to be hard-fought.

“I think it’s going to be a great game. They knocked us off two years ago, and last year we knocked them off,” he said.

Back to the unbeatens:

Sibley-Ocheyedan, which opened with a come-from-behind victory over Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn, then scored another come-from-behind victory over Okoboji, plays an Alta-Aurelia team that is 1-1. A-A has beaten Pocahontas Area 20-7 and lost to Sioux Central 20-6.

Mountain Lake Area’s next opponent is a 1-1 Hills-Beaver Creek team. H-BC opened with a 36-22 win over Randolph and is still smarting from last week’s 42-14 loss to Edgerton-Ellsworth in which the Flying Dutchmen amassed 503 yards rushing.

Westbrook-Walnut Grove should have a good challenge on its hands with Nicollet. Both teams are 2-0. Nicollet defeated Southwestern United 57-0 in its opener and edged Madelia 21-20 in its next game. The Chargers shut out Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman 20-0 to start the season, then outscored Fulda 38-20 in their next game. W-WG is starting fast out of the gate, outscoring its first opponent 14-0 in the first quarter and outscoring the Raiders 26-0 in the first half.

Adrian romped past Canby 39-14 in its opener and followed that up with a 27-13 win over Tracy-Milroy-Balaton. Lakeview lost 76-14 to Minneota/Lincoln HI and beat Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 32-7.

Edgerton-Ellsworth’s game this week with Renville County West is worth special note, as RCW’s issues against Mountain Lake Area have been documented elsewhere in this article. Suffice to say, the Jaguars — who lost 50-13 to Madelia in Week One — will have their work cut out for them on Friday. The Dutchmen have outscored opponents 108-22 through two games (Week One was a 66-8 romp over Alden-Conger).

Mathematicians could have a field day calculating the odds for the RCW/E-E game, but Dutchmen coach Andrew Fleischman says he has taught his players never to take any opponent lightly.

“Weve still got a lot of things to improve upon. We’re just excited to go out there and try to get better,” he said on Wednesday.

Even so, Fleischman is fully aware of what might happen. No coach wants to be embarrassed, and no worthy coach wants to embarrass an opponent. In one-sided contests, Fleischman says one important factor for coaches is how long to leave the starters in. You want the starters to get the playing time they need, but you also need to get your younger players into the game.

But when? And can you expect them to perform at a lesser level? Should you?

“It can kind of be a balancing act,” said Fleishman, who knows what he’s talking about. He’s coached long enough to have been on the other side of blowouts.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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