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Rushford-Peterson prepared to face speedy Rabbits

By Guy N. Limbeck

The Post-Bulletin

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Rushford-Peterson has ridden a strong defense all season, and the Trojans figure to get a stiff test Friday in the Class A state football semifinals.

The Trojans (11-1) face a Wabasso (10-2) team that has outscored four opponents by a total of 204-18 in the 2006 postseason.

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Wabasso is coming off a strong 36-0 win over Barnum in the state quarterfinals. R-P coach Jim Reinhardt believes the Rabbits are aptly named.

"They’re quick," the coach said. "They have nice team speed; they’re not real big."

Like the Trojans, Wabasso is primarily a running team. The Rabbits have relied on the running of tailback Daniel Riley, fullback Mitchell Altermatt and quarterback Christopher Eichten.

"We’re all right," Reinhardt said of R-P’s overall team speed. "We don’t have very many really fast guys, but we have some quick kids, too."

If previous scores are an indication, the Trojans should be able to match up with the Rabbits. R-P beat Springfield 10-6 in the state quarterfinals. Springfield beat Wabasso 16-6 during the regular season.

"Defense has always been our game," Reinhardt said. "We have to play really good defense."

Defensive tackles Matt Ulrich (6-foot-8, 270) and Josh Agrimson (5-10, 205) anchor the R-P defense along with middle linebacker Jon Agrimson.

"We need them to play well," Reinhardt said. "We need to play well everywhere (on defense)."

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The Trojans’ offensive line, which holds a size advantage over Wabasso, will also play a major role in the contest.

"I think we have to be (physical)," Reinhardt said. "We have to run our game straight at them."

R-P’s leading rusher, Chuck Ingram, returned to the lineup last week after missing two games with an injury. Ingram has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this year.

"He’s a good back," Reinhardt said. "We’re a much better team with him in there than without him."

Parker Brand and Mark Agrimson are also important to the running game. Brand has rushed for more than 800 yards, and Agrimson had back-to-back 100-yard games when Ingram was out.

"We’ll need to use three backs," Reinhardt said. "It gets hot in there, kids get tired."

Reinhardt guided R-P to state championships in 2002 and 2004. He sees comparisons between this team and the 2004 squad in the fact that the defense is strong and the running game potent.

"They’re all different, but this team is not a whole lot different than the 2004 team," Reinhardt said.

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Friday’s winner will play for the state title on Friday, Nov. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Metrodome.

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