Triton faces familiar foe at state
By Sarah Doty
It’s November, and the Triton football team is still in the running, so that can mean only one thing: it is time to face Luverne.
The two teams will face each other for the third time in three years Saturday at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter for the Class AA quarterfinals. Last year, the Luverne Cardinals went home with a 10-7 win over the Cobras in the quarterfinals, but in 2006, Triton was victorious with a 70-21 walloping of the Cardinals in the finals.
"Obviously we have a little bit of history," Triton coach Don Henderson said. "It should be a very interesting game; two good teams, good programs, it will all come down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes."
Neither team has made many mistakes this year and both enter Saturday’s game with a 10-1 record. Both coaches are expecting a physical game, and the outcome may hinge on defense.
This year Luverne earned 3,095 yards of total offense, led by an impressive back in Phillip Paquette, who has rushed for 1,231 of those yards — 200 of which came last week in the section championship game against Tracy-Milroy-Balaton. Triton has also had a notable year with 4,252 total yards of offense, and is led by senior Kevin Ramirez who is just a few yards shy of 1,000.
"If our kids play good, solid defense like we have been lately, and bend but not break, I think our offense can find a way to put some points on the board and we will be successful," Henderson said. "They are always a physical team. They are well coached and their tailback is the key to the game for them. They ride one back for 30 carries if need be. So we need to take the back away and make them throw."
Luverne coach Todd Oye also knows that when playing Triton, defense is crucial.
"Defensively we need to play a good game," he said. "(Triton) can run over the top of you, or throw the ball, so we need to be able to play good defense.
"Offensively we need to execute and keep the ball in good field position and not turn the ball over."
Both teams have young lines; Triton only returned one starter on offense and two on defense, and Luverne starts two sophomores.
"We are pretty equal up there," Oye said. "A lot of games can be dictated by the line play. It’s as an opportunity for a great game."