Card football preview: Alexandria still encouraged heading to BuffaloThe Alexandria football team has a chance to gain a little momentum heading down the stretch as it goes on the road to face a 2-4 Buffalo team tonight.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria football team has a chance to gain a little momentum heading down the stretch as it goes on the road to face a 2-4 Buffalo team tonight.
Cardinals’ head coach Mike Empting said his players put together a couple good days of practice early this week. After getting over the sting of a 21-12 loss to Rocori, Alexandria has shifted its focus to finishing strong in its last two regular-season games.
“The kids are still practicing hard,” Empting said. “They recognize we still have a lot to play for. Even at 1-5, we still have a great opportunity within our section to get a good seed. We know after playing Rocori, they are looking like the probable No. 1 seed, and we took them right to the brink. I think the kids are still encouraged, still pretty positive.”
The current Section 8AAAA standings give Alexandria reason for optimism. Rocori is the only team in the field with an overall record above .500. The Cardinals still have a chance to position themselves with a good seed with two 5A schools remaining on the schedule. These last two weeks are an opportunity to right the ship before heading into the playoffs.
“That’s what we’ve talked to the kids about too,” Empting said. “It’s been one of those years where it’s been a really fine line between winning and losing, and I think the kids realize that. I look back to our first three games before [St. Cloud] Apollo, if we play those games the way we’re playing right now, we probably end up on the plus side of those games.”
The key now is finding a way to win those close games. Empting feels this team has been within striking distance in every game but a 35-6 loss in Bemidji.
The Cardinals took a step toward eliminating some of the mistakes that hurt them early this season against Rocori on Saturday. Empting has said all season that this isn’t a team that can dig itself out of holes created by penalties. They played a relatively clean game in that department against the Spartans, which allowed them a chance to win it in the fourth quarter.
Alexandria will try to build on that against a Buffalo team that runs the same Wing-T offense as the Cardinals. That makes preparing for them a little easier, but Alexandria knows it’s not in a position where it can take another team lightly.
“Athletically, I think we’ve seen bigger, faster opponents than these guys,” Empting said. “But with that said, we still have to play well.”
That begins on the opening kickoff. Slow starts have plagued the Cardinals all season, and it did again last week as they fell behind Rocori 14-0 in the first quarter. Fixing that will be one of Alexandria’s top priorities as it tries to get things pointed in the right direction tonight.