Card football preview: Alexandria gets another stiff test in week two
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria football team didn’t receive any favors on the schedule in the opening two weeks of the season.
After battling a good St. Cloud Tech team in week one, the Cardinals will head on the road for their first game away from home. This time, they’ll take on the defending Class 4A state champions in Rocori.
“We’ll know where we stand right away,” head coach Mike Empting said on Wednesday.
There’s no doubt about that. For the Spartans, last week was the first test for a lot of new players who passed with flying colors in a 48-28 win over Brainerd. It marked the first time Rocori had beaten the Warriors in 21 years.
Senior Mac Mueller was brilliant in his debut at quarterback. He finished with 371 total yards and four touchdowns. He did it with his arm and his legs, passing for 198 yards and two scores while running for 173 yards on 19 carries.
“It seemed like he was going to come out and say, ‘Same thing, different year,’” Empting said of Mueller replacing all-conference quarterback Nate Meyer from a year ago. “He did that. He looked really good. That spread zone, read offense begins and ends with the quarterback, and they got another really good athlete there.”
Empting said the Spartans make opponents cover the whole field. They can run the ball with Mueller and a host of other backs who accounted for more than 300 total rushing yards against the Warriors. Mueller also has plenty of weapons to work with on the outside when they go to the air.
“Defensively, we have to play disciplined,” Empting said. “We have to play fast and aggressive but be under control. Going into this game, everyone knows their assignments. Now it’s about going out and executing that.”
Offensively, the Cardinals have to clean some things up from last week. Empting said they saw a lot of things on tape that they can correct in the running game. He likes what he saw from junior quarterback John Vogeler and his receivers and will try to build on that against the Spartans.
It’s an opportunity to get better against another Central Lakes Conference power. Rocori has 31 seniors on its roster. Many of those guys waited their turn with this program while practicing against the state champions a year ago. If the dismantling of Brainerd is any indication, it’s a group that is anxious to prove that this team won’t take a step back in 2012.
“I believe they have just one underclassman in the starting lineup,” Empting said. “That makes for a formidable team…it’s going to take a good effort to be successful against these guys. Not saying it can’t happen. I expect to be right in the fight with them, but they have a lot of things going for them.”