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Rebels get set for home opener against new opponent
By Scott A. Kolb
The home opener for the Southland Rebels on Friday night opens a new chapter in their football history with a first-ever game against Onalaska, Wis.
With the defection of Goodhue to the Hiawatha Valley League this year, the Three Rivers Conference has become unbalanced. So next year, the Luther High School football team from Onalaska will join the Three Rivers.
This year, the teams in the conference are getting a look at the newcomer in the non-divisional portion of the schedule.
"We don’t know much about them, but our guys will be ready to play," Southland coach Shawn Kennedy said. "We played well in the opener last week, and the team is ready to get out on the field in front of our home fans."
Last week, the Rebels used their powerful running game to beat the Wabasha-Kellogg Falcons in the season opener. Expect more of the same from the Rebels this week as they show the boys from Wisconsin what life is like in the Three Rivers Conference.
Jake Chapek and Winston Smith delivered a very effective one-two punch on the ground in the season opener. Chapek had 112 yards rushing on 13 carries and scored a touchdown. Smith accumulated 94 yards on 12 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Running the ball wasn’t a problem in the season opener as the Rebels amassed nearly 275 yards on the ground. This meant that quarterback Kody Retterath only had to throw the ball six times on the night.
The defense was also impressive with a shutout in the game against W-K. The defense intercepted two passes last week and also had a stand when W-K got inside the 10-yard line.
"Our defensive guys were flying all over the field last week," Kennedy said. "At times we were overly aggressive and we have to prevent the big plays."
At the start of the second half last week, the Falcons slashed the Rebels for a 95-yard kickoff return. Yet, this one lapse in defensive tackling techniques only served to stiffen the resolve of the Rebels defense. An interception ended the W-K drive and the long kickoff return was non-factor.
Defense and a power ground game are both trademarks of the rugged TRC. Rushford-Peterson has shown the potency of the conference with three states titles in the last six years. Onalaska Lutheran will get a preview of what’s to come when it joins the conference. Kickoff for the Rebels home opener is scheduled for 7 p.m.