RCTC again faces Ridgewater
It can be tough to play the same football foe two times in three weeks. Rochester Community and Technical College faces that challenge when it hosts Ridgewater in an MCAC state quarterfinal game on Saturday.
It was just two weeks ago that 17th-ranked RCTC scored 27 points in the second half to pull away for a 47-15 home win over Ridgewater.
"We have to be sure we don't have a let down and get too full of ourselves," RCTC coach Derrick Hintz said. "It's one and done from here on out."
Hintz has been pressing that point to his players all week and is confident his squad will be ready.
"It's hard to beat anybody twice (in one season)," Hintz said. "We just have to continue to play Yellowjacket football."
"We just have to keep getting better every week," RCTC safety Caleb Leichtnam said.
RCTC has won the past two state championships and always has expectations of reaching the state title game. The Yellowjackets are the No. 2 seed out of the Southern Division in the state playoffs and Ridgewater (5-3) is the No. 3 seed. RCTC enters with a 7-1 mark and has won four straight.
"We just have to stay focused," Yellowjackets wide receiver Josh Zitzmann said. "I think we're beginning to jell and really playing well."
Two weeks ago, RCTC unleashed quarterback Jake Kirsch on Ridgewater out of the Wildcat formation. Kirsch, seeing his first extended action at quarterback, rushed for 172 yards and three touchdowns against Ridgewater. Kirsch, in a more limited role, added 46 yards rushing and another touchdown last week.
"Our offensive line really came to life against Ridgewater," Hintz said. "We're going to need that again.
"Our offense didn't really change with Jake," Hintz added. "He just runs it differently."
The Yellowjackets remain a strong passing team. Earl Young, Josh Valla and Kevin Monkam could all see action again at quarterback against the Warriors.
Ridgewater's offense features the threat of running back Martell Baker. He is third in the state with 605 yards rushing. Baker had 91 yards in the first half against RCTC two weeks ago, but was hurt and didn't play in the second half, when the game got away from the Warriors.
"We have to play the run well and watch for the trick plays," Hintz said.
RCTC freshman defensive tackle Justin Carr was named the Southern Division Defensive Player of the Week for making five tackles, three sacks and forcing a fumble last week against Minnesota West.
Hintz plans to rotate players in an out of the lineup as he wants to "keep everyone fresh" as RCTC hopes to play what it hopes is three straight MCAC playoff games.
If the Yellowjackets win, they will likely play on the road next week. They face the winner of No. 1 North seed Fond du Lac vs. No. 4 Vermilion at the higher seed next week.
Ridgewater at RCTC
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium.
Records:RCTC 7-1; Ridgewater 5-3.
Last week:RCTC defeated Minnesota West 52-0 for its fourth shutout of the season; Ridgewater lost to Central Lakes 27-7.
Last meeting:RCTC defeated Ridgewater 47-15 just two weeks ago.
Ridgewater notes:The Warriors are No. 4 in the state in offense (289.3 yards per game) and No. 4 in defense (217.1 ypg). They have outscored foes 180-134. RB Martell Baker is No. 3 in the state with 605 yards rushing, averages 5.3 yards a carry and has 8 TDs. QB Cody Jaeger has completed 54 of 136 passes for 426 yards with 3 TDs and 13 interceptions. Kevin Parks leads the team with 25 receptions and Clint Coffey has 16. Parks also averages 26.5 yards on four punt returns and Coffey averages 16.6 on five returns.
RCTC notes:The Yellowjackets are No. 1 in the state in both offense (415.1 yards per game) and defense (146.1 ypg). They have outscored foes 321-61 and are No. 1 in the state in both points scored and allowed. Earl Young (1,037, 10 TDs, 6 interceptions), Josh Valla (739, 5 TDs, 7 interceptions) and Kevin Monkam (736, 9 TDs, 2 interceptions) have all excelled at QB. Randall Bailey has 27 catches for 283 yards and 3 TDs. Josh Zitzmann is averaging 20.6 yards on 25 catches with 5 TDs and Evan Bungum is averaging 23.3 yards on 20 catches with 5 TDs. Jake Kirsch now leads the team with 234 yards rushing and averages 12.3 yards a carry. Caleb Leichtnam and Justin Puetz both have three interceptions. Kicker Fafa Asante was the Special Teams Player of the Week in the Southern Division last week, going 7-for-7 on extra points and making a field goal.
Radio:The game will be broadcast on KFAN (1270 AM).
Next week:The winner faces the Fond du Lac and Vermilion winner next Saturday.