Reaching another title game motivates Grand Meadow
Grand Meadow is just one victory away from playing in its fourth straight state championship in Nine-Man football.
The Grand Meadow football team is one victory away from playing in the Nine-Man state championship game for a fourth straight season.
That is some lofty motivation for the Superlarks, the two-time defending state championships who have won 34 straight games. Grand Meadow will put its No. 1 ranking and perfect 12-0 mark on the line in a match-up of state powers against No. 2 and unbeaten Waubun (11-0) in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Saturday in St. Cloud.
"For the seniors, that would be four-for-four for them," Grand Meadow coach Gary Sloan said of reaching another title game. "That definitely motivates them, but I think it motivates the whole team. But right now our focus is on Waubun."
Sloan admits there is plenty to focus on against Waubun.
"They're an option team," Sloan said. "They have a really, really good running quarterback. They have some other good runners too, but he's there key."
Quarterback Peyton Syverson came into the state quarterfinals with 1,399 yard rushing and 20 touchdowns. In last week's win over 39-0 win over Silver Bay, he rushed for four touchdowns and added a fifth TD on a kickoff return.
"He's not very big, but he's quick," Sloan said.
Solan said the Superlarks have not really faced an option team this year with a strong running quarterback.
"They've got some other weapons, too," the coach said. "We have to be very disciplined on defense."
Grand Meadow, which has won 37 of its past 40 games, has been a dominating all-around team, outscoring teams on average of 47.8 to 12.6 points a game. The Superlarks are even more dominate in the first half, when the game is on the line, having outscored foes 448-52. And the team may have the speed to keep up with the Bombers, the Section Six champion.
"We feel like we have good quickness," Sloan said of his team's defense. "But it really comes down to everyone being in position. We've got a very good defense, we really do."
Sloan said the Superlarks will try to make players other then Syverson beat them. Mason Bartos has close to 700 yards rushing this season and Sam Rothschadl has more than 400. Syverson doesn't pass a lot, but has more than 800 yards through the air with 11 TDs.
"We're going to do our best to force the ball out of his hands," Sloan said.
Offensively, the Superlarks do not have players with gaudy numbers because their top skill-position players have often had limited carries, receptions and passes due to the early lopsidedness of most games.
"We try to be good to people (foes)," Sloan said.
Christophor Bain has rushed for 1,060 yards and 18 TDs while Zach Myhre has 636 yards rushing and seven TDs and quarterback Michael Stejskal has 524 yards on the ground with 13 TDs.
Stejskal has also averaged more than 20 yards per completion. He is 47-for-91 passing for 1,006 yards with 15 TDs and three interceptions. Bain has 17 receptions and four TDs and Terrell Rieken has nine catches and two scores.
"We have to have Bain going with the run, and Meyer, and then get Stejskal mixed in there," Sloan said.
Sloan said Waubun also has good speed on defense, and goes well to the ball, although the unit is not real big. The Bombers have outscored foes at rate of 38.5 to 14.1 per game.
"The last two games I think our offensive line has played very well," Sloan said. "We have to be physical again."
The winner advances to the state championship game on Nov. 13 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Who:No. 1-ranked Grand Meadow (12-0) vs. No. 2- Waubun (11-0).
Where:St. Cloud State University.
When:5 p.m. Saturday.
Next:The winner plays in the state championship game at 10 a.m. on Nov. 13 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis against the Underwood (12-0) and Ely (12-0) winner.