LeRoy-Ostrander stays grounded
L-O, Edgerton will employ running games Friday
By Scott A. Kolb
Rushing yardage will be accumulated in large chunks on Friday night when LeRoy-Ostrander plays Edgerton in the quarterfinals of the state nine-man football playoffs.
These two teams like to run the ball. L-O had 204 yards rushing in its section title win over Spring Grove and Edgerton ran up 351 yards in the section finals upset of previously unbeaten Nicollet.
Joe Bunne is the big runner for L-O as he had over 100 yards last week and scored a pair of touchdowns in the section championship. Edgerton's Brett Elgersma led an overpowering ground game with over 200 yards and three touchdowns in his section finals.
"We've seen big running backs before, but Elgersma's a skilled athlete and will be a load to stop," L-O coach Craig Knight said. "But our defense is ready. The kids see a big running back (Bunne) in practice everyday, so the defense is used to it. Edgerton is pretty much a power football team and they're physical."
Edgerton quarterback Max Zwart threw only nine passes against Nicollet, but he was accurate. Zwart completed seven of those passes for 50 yards and one touchdown.
"Their quarterback can throw, so we'll have to be ready for play-action," Knight said. "That will be the key to come out and match their intensity and be as physical as they are. We can be physical to and that's what we've stressed this week in practice."
Bunne and Lance Peters bring a powerful one-two punch to the L-O ground game. When the runners need a break, then quarterback Neal Bucknell can step up and throw the ball. Still, the main objective is to ground out yardage and keep the Edgerton offense off the field.
"They have a nice running game and good defense," Edgerton head coach Andrew Fleischman said of L-O. "It will be a tough game."
Playoff fever has gripped the fans of the Big Red and there will be a community pep rally for the team this afternoon in LeRoy. It's a long trip to Edgerton for Friday night's game, but it's a good bet most of the town will be on the road with their team.
"The kids are excited and the coaches are too, so we've all been pretty focused," Knight said. "It's a little different to still be playing this late in the season and the big thing I told the guys is to enjoy the experience. People around town are pretty excited and I'm sure we'll have a good crowd follow us to Edgerton."
BOX: NINE-MAN QUARTERFINALS
LeRoy-Ostrander (9-2) vs.
7 p.m. Friday at Edgerton
‰; LeRoy-Ostrander facts: Special teams were the difference for the Cardinals in the section title win over Spring Grove. Joe Bunne kicked four extra points and his opening kickoff pinned the opposition at the 3-yard line, which later set-up the first L-O touchdown. John Hanks had the biggest special teams play of the game when he recovered an onside kick with under four minutes to play and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
Running backs Joe Bunne and Lance Peters led the ground game which accumulated a total of 204 yards. Bunne had 103 yards and scored two touchdowns, while Peters had 98 yards on the ground. Quarterback Neal Bucknell led a touchdown drive late in the first half and threw a scoring strike to Travis Lewis.
‰; Edgerton facts: The ground game for the Flying Dutchmen was devastating in the section finals win over Nicollet with 351 yards total. Brett Elgersma led the way last week with 218 yards on the ground on 44 carries and three touchdowns. Zach Boyum is the other running threat as he had 63 yards and a touchdown in the section title game.
The defense has also stepped up in the playoff run by allowing less than 10 points to the opposition in its three wins. Edgerton has outscored opponents in the playoffs by a margin of 114-19.
‰; Next: Semifinals of the state tournament. The winner of this game plays the winner of Mountain Iron-Buhl vs. Stephen-Argyle at the Metrodome in Minneapolis a week from Friday at 8 a.m.