ROCHESTER LOURDES at CHATFIELD
Thursday, 7 p.m. at Chatfield High School
Records: Chatfield is 3-1 in the Southeast District-White Division, 4-1 overall; Lourdes is 1-1 Southeast-Red, 4-1 overall.
Last game: Lourdes beat Red Wing 39-12 last Friday; Chatfield won at Triton 27-8, last Friday.
Lourdes notes: The Eagles moved up one spot in this week's Class AAA state poll, to No. 8, after their victory against Red Wing last week. ... Lourdes has been hit by the injury bug again this season. Seniors Graham Hopkins, Jordan Borgeson and Griffin Becher have all missed multiple games. ... The Eagles' defense is allowing 262.2 yards and 17.4 points per game. ... Lourdes' offense averages 31.8 points and 278.6 yards per game. ... Four Eagles have at least 20 carries and average better than 5 yards per carry -- Nolan Jurgenson, Abe Gapinski, Graham Hopkins and Seth Haight. ... Lourdes, as of now, projects to be the No. 3 seed in the Section 1AAA playoffs, behind Waseca and Plainview-Elgin-Millville, though that could change, depending on the outcome of this week's games.
Chatfield notes: The Gophers are led by a small, but strong and athletic offensive line. Seniors Austin Koenigs (190 pounds) and Josh Waadevig (205), and juniors Caden Nolte (270), Ethan Ruskell (190) and Mason Clemens (200) have paved the way for one of the best ground games in southeastern Minnesota. ... Koenigs anchors the line; he is the team's lone returning full-time starter on the line. Waadevig has excelled this season after missing much of last year with an injury. Nolte is playing in just his third game, after recovering from an injury over the summer. ... That line paves the way for sophomore running back Sam Backer, who ran for 115 yards and three TDs last week. He has rushed for at least 115 yards in all five of the Gophers' games this season. For the season, Backer has rushed for 758 yards and nine touchdowns in five games. ... Dual-threat senior QB Reid Johnson helps keep defenses off balance with his ability to run or pass the ball on any play. ... The Gophers are ranked No. 7 in this week's Class AA state poll, dropping one spot despite an impressive 27-8 win at Triton last week. ... Chatfield averages 26.8 points per game and allows 10.4. Aside from their one loss -- a 33-6 setback to No. 1 Caledonia on Oct. 30 -- the Gophers have surrendered just 19 points.
Lourdes coach Mike Kesler says: "Offensively for Chatfield, of course, (Backer) has everybody's attention. We really like their quarterback (Johnson) and receivers, as well. He really throws it well and can hurt you with his legs, too. Backer gets a lot of carries but we feel their passing game is something we need to do a good job against. It's really exciting to play a team we haven't played before. Defensively, they're very aggressive and defend the run well. ... We're really pleased with how we played last week and the improvement we've seen from week to week, especially on the offensive line, with multiple (starters) out. The kids are wanting to get better. That's great to see this time of year."
Chatfield coach Jeff Johnson says: "Lourdes is a well coached team and seem to be very disciplined. They will be ready for us, so this will be another great challenge. We have to be more physical and bring more intensity to the table then they do. Yes, we've had a tough schedule, but our kids have risen to the occasion and just very grateful to be able to play each week!"
— Jason Feldman