College football: RCTC travels to winless Mesabi Range

Mesabi Range enters Saturday's football game against Rochester Community and Technical College winless at 0-4. But RCTC sophomore linebacker Joe Strike needs no reminder how tough Mesabi can be.

"Last year we scored in the final seconds to beat them by one point," Strike said.

That should be a subtle reminder to the Yellowjackets that they should not take Saturday's road game for granted. The Yellowjackets also have to brace for a letdown following last week's 48-21 win over rival Central Lakes.

"We're not looking past them," RCTC coach Bill Quistorff said. "We're looking at this like it's a championship game. We're playing like it's a challenge game every week. We don't want any kind of a let down."

Strike, a Kingsland grad, set the tone defensively last week. He intercepted a pair of passes and returned both for touchdowns. As a result, he was named the Southern Division and national junior college Defensive Player of the Week. He said the Yellowjackets will not take Mesabi Range seriously.


"Traveling on the road is always harder," he said. "We just need a good week of practice and we'll be prepared."

RCTC has the added incentive of joining the national rankings for the first time. The Yellowjackets are No. 19 in this week's Top 20 poll.

"It's definitely a good feeling to finally break the Top 20," Quistorff said. "But we're not satisfied with that. We want to keep moving up the rankings."

The Yellowjackets always expect the best effort from their opponents.

"We expect them to come out and play us tough," Quistorff said. "Obviously they're going to give us their best shot."

Mesabi Range has a solid defense, playing a 3-4 base, but has struggled to score on offense. It has just 33 points scored in four games, an 8.3 average. RCTC on the other hand averages 41.8 points a game.

"We don't want to lose a step on offense or defense," Quistorff said. "Our defense would like to put up a goose egg."

On offense the Yellowjackets have climbed to second in the nation in rushing yards per game (294.0) while sophomore running back Alex Schliesmann is third in the nation in yards per game (134.5). He rushed for more than 200 yards in last week's win and has 538 for the season.


Quistorff anticipates the Yellowjackets being able to play a lot of different players in the game. That would definitely be the case if the game were to turn one sided.

"We'll just do it through the course of the game," Quistorff said. "We want to rotate guys in and off the field and give them a chance to see what they can do."

This is RCTC's final regular-season game against a Northern Division foe. Its final three games will be against teams from the tougher Southern Division: Fergus Falls (1-3), Ridgewater (4-0) and Minnesota West (3-1).

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