Defense delivered for Hurricanes in state quarterfinals
Houston will play Ada-Borup at Metrodome on Friday
By Scott A. Kolb
Defense has led the Houston Hurricanes to the semifinals of the nine-man state football playoffs at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
Last week in the state quarterfinals, the Hurricanes’ defense put a halt to the prolific ground game of the Verndale Pirates. In a 14-6 win, Houston held Verndale, a team that averaged 386 yards rushing during the season, to 112.
The Hurricanes defense will face a different set of challenges on Friday in the semifinals against Ada-Borup at the Metrodome.
Ada-Borup (10-2) runs out of multiple sets, and uses multiple ball carriers. Yuri Johnson is the leading rusher and he took over at quarterback last week after Spencer Ruebke got hurt.
"Each guy has figured out what to do in his role on defense and they’ve improved fundamentally throughout the season," Houston coach Jason Freed said.
"The guys are more comfortable with the coverages and they’ve kept improving every week. "Ada-Borup is a multi-formation team, and they’re pretty balanced offensively. Watching the tape, I counted them running out of 10 different sets in the quarterfinals. We have to make sure we contain, and not give them space to get outside."
Moving indoors will also lighten the load on the defense. In the rain last week, Houston got the lead and then relied on its ground game to run down the clock in the second half.
Hurricanes quarterback Andy Sires has been accustomed to throwing touchdown passes, but he was held to only four completions and 33 yards passing in the win over Verndale.
One of those completions was to Pete Kildahl for a touchdown. Playing indoors should allow Sires to throw more often.
"We’re looking forward to playing in a climate-controlled environment and we’ll be able to open up the passing game," Freed said. "We accepted the challenge and ground it out against Verndale, but I expect to be more balanced in this game. Andy loves to fire the ball around the field, and we’re excited about the opportunity to play in the state semifinals."
Freed and his team aren’t the only ones excited about making the trip to the Dome. The alumni have brought their colorful old school bus to games all season for moral support, and it was at the quarterfinals in Spring Lake Park.
The coach got an e-mail stating the alumni will be there with the bus to greet the team as they head to the Dome at 6:15 on Friday. Kickoff is at 8 a.m.