Football preview: Cards head for Detroit Lakes for semifinals tomorrowAlexandria will head to Detroit Lakes tomorrow night with a lot of confidence after cruising past Rocori in the opening round of the Section 8AAAA tournament on Tuesday night.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
Alexandria will head to Detroit Lakes tomorrow night with a lot of confidence after cruising past Rocori in the opening round of the Section 8AAAA tournament on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals do not know a lot about the 2010 version of the Lakers. What they do know stems from a 21-7 win over Detroit Lakes during the second round of last year’s playoffs. The Lakers played a lot of underclassmen last year who are reaping the benefits of that experience on their way to a 7-2 record.
“They had a pretty young team, so all those kids are a year older,” head coach Mike Empting said. “They have a very good quarterback (junior Joe Mollberg), we know that. They run a pretty solid option game, which has given us some issues a little bit this year. We just know they’re a good football team. They have good athletes and they’re very well coached.”
The Lakers have put up impressive numbers during their current seven-game winning streak. They have averaged 37 points per game during that stretch. In its last two games of the regular season, Detroit Lakes racked up 1,070 yards of total offense.
A host of talented runners in the backfield had a lot to do with that. Junior fullback Alex Mason ran for 191 yards in the regular-season finale against Duluth East. He added two touchdowns and 82 yards against Apollo on Tuesday night. Mollberg is also a threat to run the ball. He finished with 161 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in miserable conditions against the Eagles.
The Cardinals’ defense will have to find a way to slow down that attack. Alexandria looks to be back on track on that side of the ball after struggling through the team’s three-game losing streak. Bemidji, Rocori and Little Falls combined to score 70 points against the Cardinals after they had given up just 28 points in their previous four wins. That three-game stretch caused this team to take a look at what had changed from the beginning of the season.
“The last couple weeks in practice and last week in our win over Moorhead, we decided as a defense that we need to go out there and play with more emotion,” senior safety Felix Coleman said. “Go out there and play for each other as a team, so going out there and getting pumped after every single play, after every tackle for loss…Everyone wants to be the guy to make that next big play and it was evident tonight [against Rocori]. Everyone wanted to make big plays and that’s what happened.”
Alexandria also has to overcome the challenge of going on the road in a playoff atmosphere. The Cardinals have relished the opportunity to spoil home games for opponents so far this season. They are 3-1 away from Citizens Field. They need one more road win to punch their second straight ticket to a section title game.
“We are liking the position we’re in,” Empting said. “We like how we’re playing right now.”
Detroit Lakes would likely say the same thing after rolling over Apollo in the opening round. Two teams playing good football will meet with a lot on the line. Coleman, for one, is confident the Cardinals have what it takes to be the last one standing.
“They had a lot of young players, even sophomores who were playing varsity,” he said of playing Detroit Lakes a year ago. “And as juniors last year, us starters, and even the new guys filling roles, we are going to come out there and show our dominant experience over them and stick it to them. We’re going to hit it hard these next couple days in practice and show them that we are the better team.”
SECTION 8AAAA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
1. Sartell, 2. Detroit Lakes, 3. Alexandria, 4. Sauk Rapids, 5. Little Falls, 6. Rocori, 7. St. Cloud Apollo, 8. Fergus Falls.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 7 P.M.
Sartell 14, Fergus Falls 0
Sauk Rapids 28, Little Falls 13
Detroit Lakes 37, St. Cloud Apollo 0
Alexandria 34, Rocori 6
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 7 P.M.
Sauk Rapids at Sartell
Alexandria at Detroit Lakes
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1 P.M.
ST. JOHN’S UNIVERSITY