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Prep football: MLA, Edgerton-Ellsworth have key early battle

The Friday night lights will be shining in full force this week as Week 1 of the high school football season is officially here. Stadiums around the area won’t just be lit up on Friday, however. There will also be plenty of action tonight (Aug. 28).

One of the marquee matchups in the area in Week 1 is one of six happening tonight. Perennial Southern Confederacy Conference-West powerhouses Edgerton/Ellsworth and Mountain Lake Area will meet up for a 9-man battle at 7 p.m. in Edgerton.

The two squads met up twice last season with the Wolverines taking both games on their way to a second consecutive trip to the state tournament. MLA took a lopsided 48-18 victory in the regular season matchup before managing a narrow 20-12 win in the Section 3 semifinals.

This year, the Wolverines will feature a vastly different roster after losing All-Conference athletes Carter Kirk, Josh Grev, Andrew Hempeck and Vince Johnson. Kirk finished as the conference’s offensive player of the year while Grev took player of the year honors on the defensive side of the ball.

Despite the losses, MLA welcomes back 13 seniors, most of whom are well-seasoned at the varsity level.

Edgerton/Ellsworth features eight seniors that will likely have revenge on their minds after both their losses in an 8-2 2013 were at the hands of the Wolverines. The Flying Dutchmen feature a three-headed monster of Jake Post, Tyler Kurrasch and quarterback Bailey Fey in the backfield, making the likelihood of a strong E/E rushing attack high.

Aside from the rivalry battle in Edgerton, five other games will take place on what is kickoff week for most teams around the state. Fairmont will travel to Jackson County Central to take on the Huskies in the night’s only Big South Conference contest. Westbrook/Walnut Grove will travel to Cleveland, Hills-Beaver Creek will play host to Nicollet and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton will be on the road against MACCRAY.

The only area team not getting its first taste of regular season action this week is Worthington. The Trojans were one of 36 teams around the state to kick off a week early and suffered a 52-14 loss at the hands of Redwood Valley in their opener. Friday, Worthington opens up its home schedule with a contest against new conference mate Waseca in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Trojan Field.

In the opener, the Trojans ran the ball 50 times and racked up 219 yards, led by a nine-carry, 83-yard performance by Torey Rogers. They took an early lead after Rogers broke off a 61-yard run on the first play from scrimmage but struggled to move the ball after that. Defensively, they had a difficult time slowing down a balanced Redwood Valley attack with a heavy emphasis on the option.

Worthington will try to get that shored up before a solid Bluejay squad comes to town Friday.

Waseca and veteran coach Brad Wendland come in for their season opener off a strong 2013 campaign that saw the Bluejays go 9-1 and win the final South Central Conference title before a loss to Hutchinson in the Section 2AAAA semifinals. Waseca — like Worthington — will feature a first-year starter under center. According to a report by the Waseca County News, senior Isaac Highum and junior Nick Dufault were still battling for the QB1 spot after a team scrimmage last week. For the Trojans, sophomore Tucker Sorenson will make his second career start after completing two of six passes at Redwood Valley.

Worthington versus Waseca is one of 11 area games happening Friday night. In the Big South, Luverne will kick off its season at St. James, which took a 50-25 loss to Brooklyn Center last week. Pipestone Area will travel to Redwood Valley and Windom Area will take on St. Peter on the road. Outside of the Big South, Fulda will host Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman, Heron Lake-Okabena travels to Madelia and Red Rock Central plays at Springfield. In Northwest Iowa nonconference action, Sheldon travels to South O’Brien; Sibley-Ocheyedan hosts LeMars Gehlen Catholic, Central Lyon/George-Little Rock visits West Lyon and Harris-Lake Park is on the road against North Iowa.

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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