Card football preview: Alexandria focuses on improving at Fergus FallsAlexandria will be on the road for tonight's game with the Otters
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
By Eric Morken
The Alexandria football team will head to Fergus Falls tonight focused more on what it can do to improve than on anything the Otters are going to throw at them.
The Cardinals have yet to score an offensive touchdown in a 0-2 start to the season. Six turnovers have been a big reason for that. Those are the miscues Alexandria wants to clean up as it tries to move forward after a slow start.
“I don’t think we’re that far off,” head coach Mike Empting said. “It’s been one mistake here or there that we didn’t have last year in tight games [that has been the difference].”
The Cardinals will try to get going against a Fergus team that has already surpassed its win total from last year. The Otters broke what was a 19-game losing streak for the program with a 45-13 win over St. Cloud Apollo in the season opener.
Sixth-ranked Bemidji halted any momentum the Otters might have had by handing them a 42-13 loss last Friday. The Lumberjacks showed off their athletes on the outside by passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns on a 16-of-22 passing night from Mitchell Hendricks.
That is not a blueprint Alexandria is likely to use heading into tonight’s game. The Cardinals are not going to stray from a running game that has been very good in the last two seasons. They will work in the pass against the Otters, but Alexandria won’t go away from what has worked in the past.
“Our passing game is going to continue to work on it,” Empting said. “We will continue to try to build that aspect of our offense. If you get too one dimensional, teams will load it up on you and put eight, nine in the box. But Bemidji is a way different team than us. Offensively, I think they have four Mark Whiting type athletes on the perimeter – tall, rangy type of guys who can go and get it.”
Fergus will line up with an offense that comes right at teams. The Otters ran for 331 yards in the win over Apollo. Hayden Zenner has been their feature back in the first two weeks, rushing for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Empting called the Otters a much-improved team from the last two seasons but felt getting a win would come down to Alexandria’s ability to clean up its own mistakes more than anything the Otters might do.
“They’re not going to try to be too fancy,” he said. “I think our challenge this week is going to be just trying to clean up what we’re doing. Eliminate those mistakes that have hurt us the last two games.”
Empting’s message to his team this week is that it is still early. There is plenty of time for the Cardinals to correct those errors and be where they want to be by the end of the season.
“There does get to be a sense of urgency here,” Empting said. “You don’t want to fall to 0-3. At the same time, I don’t want the kids to feel pressure that it’s a must-win game. We just want to keep getting better…we knew coming in that we have a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball and that it might take some time to get used to the varsity game in the Central Lakes Conference. That’s kind of what we’re going through right now.”