Alexandria football preview: Cardinals travel to Willmar tonight
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria football team didn’t have long to celebrate its first win of the season with another good team on the docket in week five.
The Cardinals will travel to Willmar tonight, Friday, for a game against a 1-3 Cardinals team that is probably better than its record indicates. Alexandria head coach Mike Empting said earlier this season he felt Willmar was talented enough to challenge teams at the top of the Central Lakes Conference.
The Cardinals have done that, but found themselves on the losing end of a lot of those tight games. Willmar was less than 10 seconds away from halting a 16-game winning streak for Rocori last week. The Spartans were trailing 21-16 when quarterback Mac Mueller connected with Nick Thorpe on a 13-yard touchdown pass with four seconds left.
That resulted in Willmar’s second one-point loss of the season. The other came in Fergus Falls in week two in a 21-20 game. Willmar also pushed perennial power Brainerd to the brink in week three before losing 21-14.
Senior quarterback Alex Grove will try to lead this team out of its current three-game losing streak. He had a hand in all three Willmar touchdowns against Rocori after rushing for a score and throwing for two more. Grove finished the game with 57 yards rushing on 15 carries and 128 yards on 11-of-20 passing.
Tonight’s game will be another test for Alexandria in a season filled with them on a tough schedule. The first three losses for this team came against programs that are a combined 10-2. The final three weeks will feature teams that are a combined 9-3 in Bemidji, Moorhead and Brainerd.
Alexandria showed improvement in a 21-7 win over a winless St. Cloud Apollo team on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals will now have the opportunity to take an even bigger step starting tonight in Willmar.