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Trojans aim to maintain confidence

WORTHINGTON -- Entering Week 2 of the Southern Minnesota Alliance Conference football season, the Worthington Trojans were desperate for some validation -- following a less-than inspiring 39-8 loss to the Pipestone Area Arrows in Week 1.

WORTHINGTON -- Entering Week 2 of the Southern Minnesota Alliance Conference football season, the Worthington Trojans were desperate for some validation -- following a less-than inspiring 39-8 loss to the Pipestone Area Arrows in Week 1.

Worthington head coach Dennis Hale, knowing that he had a very inexperienced side, took the loss in stride and hoped that the Trojans would simply continue to improve. But he also knew that in order to improve, the team needed to gain a little confidence along the way.

You might say that Hale and the Trojans (1-1) killed two Cardinals with one stone last week in defeating Redwood Valley 8-0.

"We showed some good improvement on both sides of the ball last week," Hale said. "Their (RVs) opening drive went down to a first-and-goal inside the five, and we were able to stop them. I think that was a big plus. That really got us going and gave us some confidence.

"Getting eight points on the board doesn't sound like a whole lot, but I think anybody at the game could see that we definitely could have scored more -- having several opportunities," Hale added. "Hopefully, we'll continue to improve in Week 3."

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Although certainly not over the hump, the Trojans did gain some much-needed confidence and have an opportunity to pick up more tonight against a struggling St. Peter team.

The Saints opened up the season with a 28-12 home loss to the Waseca Bluejays, followed by a 33-14 road loss at the hands of the New Richland Panthers.

Certainly, at this point in the season, the Saints are starving for some confidence and a victory.

"Redwood Valley, St. Peter and Worthington are all kind of in the same group -- trying to establish themselves," Hale said. "St. Peter has the home field, has watched us get blown away by Pipestone and get an 8-0 win against Redwood Valley. They'll be thinking that this is a game they could possibly get. It's going to be a big game for a team that's 0-2 and trying to get on the winning side of the column."

Against a team that is still searching for answers, the Trojans will likely want to do their best to keep the Saints off the board early and try to gain at least a 14-point advantage. If Worthington can forge a lead, the Saints might just fold.

"I think most people are expecting this game to be close," Hale said. "If one team or the other gets out to a two or three touchdown lead, I think it will be very demoralizing for the team that is behind. Neither team has enough veterans back to rebound from something like that."

Offensively, the Trojans will look to get behind St. Peter's 5-3 defense and exploit the sidelines. In years past, the Saints used a radar defense with all the players standing up. Last year St. Peter switched back to a more traditional style, perhaps because they didn't have the personnel to continue the free-flowing formation.

It's no secret that Trojan senior running back Nate Stoll will get the bulk of the carries. The Worthington offensive line will again look to open up holes on the flanks for the speedy rusher.

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"Everyone knows Nate is going to run the ball for us," Hale said. "We're going to look for different ways of attacking them with Nate and make adjustments as we go."

Defensively, the Trojan garrison will be looking at an open-back veer offense -- something they see nearly every week. Against the option, discipline is paramount. One missed appointment, and a play could go for big yardage.

"The option is assignment football," Hale said. "Every call is: Who has the quarterback? Who has the dive back? Who has the pitch back? It's always a challenge, because you don't want to do the same thing every time or they'll figure it out and block differently.

"The main goal will be to control their quarterback," Hale added. "Their quarterback is a star. If we can get to him, we have a good chance of success."

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