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WHS-Luverne should be physical battle

WORTHINGTON -- If you liked Worthington's rock'em, sock'em game against the Jackson County Central Huskies last week, you probably shouldn't miss tonight's contest between the Trojans and Luverne Cardinals.

WORTHINGTON -- If you liked Worthington's rock'em, sock'em game against the Jackson County Central Huskies last week, you probably shouldn't miss tonight's contest between the Trojans and Luverne Cardinals.

A matchup of two 2-2 teams with similar styles, this Week 5 game will likely be another slugfest.

"Traditionally, Luverne is a very tough opponent for us," Worthington head coach Dennis Hale said Thursday afternoon. "They're a good, physical team with a lot of good players."

Having started the year with a pair of losses, the Cardinals didn't have some of those players -- due to ineligibility -- in the lineup to begin the season. Getting those players back has helped the team's cause as the Cardinals bounced back from losses against Marshall and New Ulm to defeat a tough Fairmont side, 14-6, and edge St. James last week, 22-18.

After putting a mere six points on the scoreboard in weeks one and two, the Cardinals have averaged 18 points per game on offense. Luverne's defense also has stepped it up a bit in its last two games, cutting down the points against from 29.5 to 12.

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"There's no doubt that the return of those players has helped their team," Hale said. "They went out and beat a good Fairmont team, which ran over Pipestone (Area) -- a team that beat us in Week 1."

How does Worthington stop the Cardinals now that they're on a roll?

"We're going to have to rely on our defense," Hale said. "For whatever reason, we haven't been able to put many points on the board this season. Our defense is playing well.

"We know what to expect from Luverne. They're a power football team, which can occasionally hurt you with the pass -- no surprises. So we have to prepare for all phases of their offense."

The Trojan offense has had moments of brilliance, but as a whole has been rather inconsistent this year. While senior running back Nate Stoll has done a good job carrying the ball, the other aspects of the offense have been spotty -- especially the passing game.

"We haven't had a consistent throwing game all year," Hale said. "Against Jackson -- while it was still a one-possession game -- we couldn't play catch with the open receivers. In order to be successful against Luverne, we'll have to throw the ball better.

"I don't know the answer as to why we haven't been able to make the completions -- we do well in practice. Hopefully, this week, we can connect."

With Waseca (2-2) waiting in the wings, followed by New Ulm (1-2) and Marshall (4-0), tonight's game could be very important for the Trojans in regard to postseason seeding. If the Trojans can pick up a victory against Luverne and win two of their remaining three games, they might earn a home game to open the playoffs.

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The Trojans' 9-8 home victory over Minnewaska to open last year's playoffs helped propel Worthington to a fantastic postseason run.

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