The Alexandria football team always faces good programs on its schedule within its district and out of Section 8-5A.
That will be the case again this fall from the likes of Bemidji, Brainerd, St. Cloud Tech and Moorhead among others, but it might be a non-district or section opponent that draws the most attention right off the bat.
Alexandria’s opening game of the season on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. features a challenging but unique opportunity to see one of the best quarterbacks in the state when a Class 6A school in Buffalo comes to AAHS. Aidan Bouman, the son of former Vikings quarterback and current Buffalo Bison head coach Todd Bouman, will be a senior this year before heading to Iowa State University to play his college football in the Big 12.
Bouman, listed at 6-feet, 5-inches and 210 pounds, put up huge numbers as a junior last season, compiling 41 touchdowns to just six interceptions with 3,474 yards passing. He completed 63.4 percent of his throws (234-of-369) and tied a state record with eight touchdowns in a week three loss to Elk River on Sept. 14, 2018 that ended in an 80-70 final.
“We knew right away it would be tough starting with Buffalo, but it’s also really fun for us (defensive) backs too because their quarterback is pretty good and he likes to throw the ball,” Alexandria senior captain and safety Andrew Revering said from practice on Monday when asked about the 2019 schedule. “Other than that, Bemidji is going to be really good. It’s going to test us a lot this year because I know we’re going to be really good too. There’s going to be a lot of good games in there.”
The Cardinals know what they’re going to get from Bouman and his Buffalo teammates - a lot of passing. The Bison went 6-3 in 2018 and put up 48.3 points per game in the process.
“When our schedule came out and we saw Buffalo right away in the first game, our guys got excited,” Alexandria head coach Mike Empting said. “They knew. Bouman made a lot of noise last year as a junior. He’s been starting since his freshman year. He’s a really good player, and our d-backs got pretty excited. They know what’s out there, and Buffalo is going to be a good football team.”
Going up against a player of Bouman’s caliber is fun for a lot of these guys. They know it’s an opportunity to make an early statement against one of the better passers in Minnesota.
“Bauman is going to be what makes their offense go,” Empting said. “But they need to put a defense out there too and we’ve got guys on our offensive side that they’re going to have to contend with.”
Speed at the skill positions
Empting knows the speed he has to work with from the Cardinals’ skill position players this year. That was proven during the track season last spring.
The sprinting group for the Alexandria boys track and field program was one of the best in the state and a lot of those guys were football players. Kristen Hoskins, Cody Branson and Nolan Morical were three of the four legs of the 4x100 state champion relay team for Alexandria. The all-state 4x200 team also included another football player in senior Derrek Piepho joining Branson, Morical and Graham Peterson as they finished ninth at state.
“Speed is the great equalizer,” Empting said. “It can change a game in a heartbeat if you can get a receiver free and hit him where he gets behind the defense and is gone. Nolan has shown if he can get some space, he can explode through a hole...We’ve got guys who are going to be able to do some damage as far as the skill positions go. Again, all that speed doesn’t play real well if we don’t have space to go, so we have to get them in space.”
Straight-line speed that these guys displayed during the track season is a little different than the multi-directional speed they will have to display in football. They have to show they can do it in pads, but the success these players saw during their spring season is a nice confidence booster heading into this fall.
“I think it definitely helps allowing us to get more space from d-backs,” Branson said on Monday. “Then Nolan running the ball. We have that extra speed to get around guys and get more open.”