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Lyle/Pacelli seeks an upset over unbeaten Houston

By Scott A. Kolb

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Coming off a win on homecoming last week, the Lyle/Austin Pacelli Athletics now hit the road this Friday to play the top team in Southern Confederacy, East Division.

The Houston Hurricanes are unbeaten and ranked in the top 10 for Nine-Man football. The Hurricanes have been posting very high point totals this season, so the Lyle/Pacelli defense will have its work cut out trying to stop the potent offense of this week’s opponent.

Both teams put up impressive offensive statistics in the first half last week.

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L/P quarterback Sam Stier threw a pair of touchdown passes and Riley Marsolek ran for a touchdown in the first-half scoring explosion against Grand Meadow. Houston had over 400 yards on offense in the first half of last week’s rout of Spring Grove.

"They have a great team with a lot of weapons, but we don’t have anything to lose and our guys are ready to play," L/P coach Mark Buntje said. "The win last week on homecoming at the big field in Austin gave the kids a lot of confidence. We’re going down there to give them a competitive game."

Finishing drives has been the bane of the Athletics all season, but they got it done in the first half last week and scored three touchdowns.

Sam Stier connected with Ryan Fett and Brady Stier for touchdown passes in the win over Grand Meadow. The quarterback will have one less target this week as tight end Zeb Henaman is sidelined with a sore shoulder. The ground game was also effective as the Athletics went over 100 yards last week, including a team-leading 64 yards from Sam Stier.

"We’re going to ride Sam, and he had a great game against Grand Meadow," Buntje said. "Our line has been blocking a lot better and they gave him time to throw. Brady and Ryan made some big catches, so they can’t just key on one receiver. Ethan Young will have to take over for Henaman, but he’s done a good job picking up the offense."

On the other side of the ball, the Hurricanes present a myriad of challenges for the Athletics defense.

Kevin Lindh led the offensive onslaught last week against Spring Grove with 142 yards on only six carries, all of them in the first half. Lindh also had a trio of touchdown runs. Houston quarterback Andy Sires is also a big threat as he proved with three touchdown passes in the first half last week.

"Lindh is fast and runs that stretch play, so our defense will have its hands full trying to stop their ground game," Buntje said. "We can’t have turnovers and give them a short field. We also have to run the clock, and control the ball on offense.

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"We got outside last week on the sweeps, because Grand Meadow blitzed so much. Houston will blitz a lot too and we’ll have to use the same gameplan. The first half last week was as good as we’ve played all year, and team morale is way higher than last year at this time."

LYLE/PACELLI AT HOUSTON

Friday, 7 p.m., at Houston

Records: L/P is 2-3 overall, 2-2 in East Division of the Southern Confederacy. Houston is 5-0 overall, 4-0 in the division.

Last game: Lyle/Pacelli beat Grand Meadow 22-20 on homecoming at Art Hass Stadium in Austin. Houston beat Spring Grove 61-16.

Last meeting: Houston won 36-6 last year. This was the first ever win for the Hurricanes over the Athletics. The series stands at 2-1 all-time in favor of L/P.

L/P notes: The Athletics have won two of their last three games. Sam Stier has thrown for over 150 yards in both of those wins. The quarterback also had a combined six touchdown passes in the two wins.

Houston notes: It wasn’t that long ago when the Hurricanes were the laughing stock of the conference. Earlier in this decade, the Hurricanes once went three straight seasons without a win. Things began to change with a winning season last year, and now Houston is ranked ninth in the state polls.

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Quote: "We’ve improved over the last three weeks and got a couple of wins in the division, so we’re getting a little credibility in the East. Winning at homecoming last week makes it a lot easier to take this long trip," L/P coach Mark Buntje said.

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