Prep football: MLA, E/E get set for big showdown
EDGERTON—All one has to do is look at this week’s 9-Man football rankings and see how big this Friday’s game pitting Mountain Lake Area against Edgerton/Ellsworth really is. The two clubs are tied for third place this week by the Associated Press.
MLA comes off a 79-6 thumping achieved last week at home over Randolph while the Flying Dutchmen beat Fulda 68-14. It all comes to a head on Friday night, and both coaches know it.
“This game is huge, and our guys need to come out and play a full game of disciplined football,” MLA coach Tim Kirk said. “We’ll most likely play them again in the semis of section in a couple of weeks. We got destroyed last year by E/E who I still feel was the best or second best team in the state last year.”
E/E gained that aforementioned win over MLA in last year’s section quarterfinals 52-12. Since losing to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley last year to end its year the Flying Dutchmen, like MLA, have begun this season at 6-0.
While Kirk acknowledged this will be a big game, E/E coach Andrew Fleischman prefers to take his team’s journey as more of a one-game-at-a-time kind of thing.
“I think we are doing a great job of taking it one game at a time and focusing on improving every week,” Fleischman said. “We look at every game like it is our most important game. Right now, Mountain Lake is the most important game. Last week it was Fulda and next week it will be Cleveland.”
Mountain Lake will spend its time trying to stop an E/E offense that has had its way in several games thus far. The Flying Dutchmen have prided themselves on having a strong lead from their offensive line and, for them, it starts there.
“I think our success just comes down to the fact that our line has done a good job establishing control of things early in all the games we have played,” Fleischman said. “That goes a long way to allowing us to put some points on the board.”
Going the other way, the Flying Dutchmen will be charged with taking their strong defensive presence to work toward MLA. The MLA Wolverines have the ability to strike quickly from a variety of angles. It starts for them offensively with 6-foot-7 quarterback Carter Kirk. He is the leading rusher in the West Division of the Southern Confederacy Conference while senior tailback Andrew Hempeck is the league’s second leading rusher.
If MLA is to win, the task is straight-forward, Kirk said:
“We have a very talented group of kids who have a lot of varsity experience. We’re very balanced on offense and have good team speed and strength on defense,” he said. “For us to win Friday, we need to play physical and fast to the whistle. We also have to have the right mindset and be prepared for adversity because of the quality of E/E.”