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AUSTIN EDITION L/P looks to bounce back from first loss

It won't be easy at defending Section One champ Spring Grove

By Scott A. Kolb

skolb@postbulletin.com

Another big test awaits Lyle/Austin Pacelli football this week with a road trip to Spring Grove, the home of the defending Section One champions.

This is the second game in a brutal three-week stretch for Lyle/Pacelli.

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After losing last week to Mabel-Canton, the L/P boys have a tough road game this Friday, and next week they return home to face Nicollet, the defending champions in the Southern Confederacy.

The task this week won't be easy as the L/P defense tries to contain shifty Spring Grove quarterback Sam Morken. The Lions quarterback guided his team all the way to the Metrodome in last year's state playoffs and they haven't lost a home game in two years.

Brimming with confidence, the L/P offense comes into the game flying high after accumulating 476 total yards and scoring 34 points last week. The L/P Athletics have scored 81 points in two games so far and amassed over 900 yards in total offense.

Senior running back Chris Bergstrom has been the main catalyst in this offensive juggernaut for L/P. Bergstrom has scored seven touchdowns in two games and rushed for 400-plus yards.

L/P tailback Kellen Blaser scored a touchdown and ran for 89 yards last week. Blaser has three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards in rushing for two games. The one-two punch in the running game has opened up the air attack.

Caleb Martin, the L/P quarterback, hasn't had to throw much, but when he has it's been an effective weapon. Martin passed for 118 yards last week and threw a touchdown pass.

"The offense has played well," L/P coach Mark Buntje said. "It makes a big difference to have Chris back and running hard. I don't think anybody can stop our offense, but we have to be able to stop the other team."

Although the offense put up impressive numbers last week, it was still a loss because the defense allowed 42 points and over 500 yards in offense to Mabel-Canton. Things won't get any easier this week.

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Spring Grove doesn't have the bruising fullback and the power running game which led the team to the section title last year, but it does have more balance. Morken threw for a pair of touchdown passes in last week's win over Glenville-Emmons.

The Lions' ground game is still a potent force. Patrick Longmire rushed for 120 yards and also had another 68 in punt returns.

L/P has to keep Spring Grove below 30 points in this upcoming game to have a chance to win. The defense will have to stiffen if the Athletics are to succeed.

"Last week's loss didn't hurt us in the section seedings, because Mabel-Canton moves up to 11-man for the playoffs," Buntje said. "This week is a different story. Spring Grove won our section last year by getting all of its playoff games at home.

"They want to get that top seed again. We don't want to be on the road in the playoffs, so this is a key game."

If they lose on the road this week, the Athletics will be scrambling to finish the season with a winning record. Next week's game is against the top team in the division, so L/P would have to run the table to get a home game in the post-season.

BOX: Game Previews

Lyle/Pacelli at Spring Grove

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Records: Lyle/Pacelli is 1-1 and Spring Grove is 2-0. Both teams begin the inaugural season of division play in the Southern Confederacy next week.

Last week: L/P lost a 42-34 shoot-out against Mabel-Canton. The good news was the offense rolled up 476 yards, but the bad news was the defense gave up over 500 yards. Spring Grove quarterback guided the Lions to 28-6 win over Glenville-Emmons. This was the 10th straight regular season win for Spring Grove.

Last meeting: The two teams have never met on the football field.

L/P notes: Senior running back Chris Bergstrom continued his torrid start to the season with 237 yards rushing, three touchdowns on the ground, and he caught a touchdown pass. Bergstrom has scored seven touchdowns in two games and rushed for over 400 yards.

Wabasha-Kellogg at Southland

Records: Southland is 2-0 overall and Wabasha-Kellogg is 0-2. This is the final week of non-divisional play in the Three Rivers Conference.

Last week: Southland won its second game of the season with a 28-14 road win over Lewiston-Altura. The Rebels used a balanced offensive attack to build the lead and then sealed it with the big play. Mike Wiste of Southland caught a tipped pass from Lee Kulow and went 72 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. W-K was beaten soundly 41-16 by Rushford-Peterson.

Last meeting: The Rebels lost to W-K at home 7-6 in the second game last season. That win ended a state record 24-game losing streak for W-K.

Southland notes: This is homecoming week for the Rebels. Wiste has been the key figure in a couple of big plays during each Rebels win. Wiste threw a halfback pass for a 50-yard touchdown to Kirk Felten in the opener against Goodhue and then came his big play last week. Southland coach Jim Guthmiller has already doubled his win total from last season.

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