Ridgewater (0-0, 3-1) at MSCTC-Fergus Falls (0-0, 1-3)
Today at 1:30 p.m. in Fergus Falls
What's at stake?
No. 4-ranked in the 10-team MCAC, Ridgewater is undefeated away from home and wants to keep it that way. The Warriors come back to Willmar next Saturday to host No. 5 Minnesota West, Worthington .... After going 1-3 against the North, the MSCTC-Fergus Falls can resurrect its season overnight with a win to start Southern Division play (South wins are worth two points compared to one for wins against North). Ridgewater beat Northland 13-6 last Saturday while the Spartans lost to No. 1-ranked Vermilion 43-27.
Walter Rochet, a product of Taft High School in Chicago, got his first start. He marched the team to the Northland two-yard-line to start the game, but a penalty set the team back and they failed to score. He ran the show all but for one series by Justin Koenen, who had started the first three games. Rochet, at 6-foot, 165 pounds, is light at the position but he has good speed on the edges. ... Alex McLauglin (855 yards, 124 carries, 6.9 average, 8 touchdowns) had his third 200-yard game at Thief River Falls. His 80-yard end run for six points got key blocks from fullback Nik Neubarth and wide receiver Trent Traxler. ... The Warriors tightened up the defense in the second half by tackling much better. Trent Molacek, sophomore linebacker from Willmar, leads the South in solo tackles with 22 through four games.
Coach Rob Baumgarn:
"Rochet will get his second start. We have three good quarterbacks who we want to get on the field one way or another. We just asked Walter to manage the (Northland) game and not try and win it by himself. We did get 16 first downs, though the execution by both teams was ugly at times. Northland is a good team but we changed our defense from last year and that gave them some trouble. These next two games are so important. We can't slip up at Fergus Falls like we did last year when we gave up four long plays, including an 86-yard pass play that was the difference. We were 3-2 going into that game. We're going to watch films of that game this week, just to show what can happen when you're not focused."
The Spartan file:
The Spartans run the Wing-T which will get them some points, most likely through the air. Fergus Falls has just 150 yards on the ground in four games and rotating quarterbacks Trent Graves and Eric Wendworth have thrown for 17 interceptions combined compared to three TDs. The roster includes two area players -- linebacker Tanner Gramm of Hancock and wide receiver Michael Stansbury from Glenwood.
Due to injuries and a suspension, Ridgewater was less than full strength at Thief River Falls. Fortunately, the team has great depth this fall. Brett Dumke got the start at free safety and also stuck a 56-yard punt (this season he's averaging 36.6 on 27 punts). ... Travis Colgrove also will see action in secondary. ... Defensive end Mickell Brown (ankle) won't be rushed back to action with Leon Sargent and Cory Johnson available. ... Against Fergus Falls a year ago, McLaughlin rushed for 241 yards.