Running toward a common goal
FARGO, N.D. -- If you happen to be a fan of passing, you might not want to waste your money buying a ticket for tonight's Class A state football game between Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg and Fosston at the Fargodome.
In last week's Section 8A title game last Friday, Fosston (9-2) did not throw one pass in its 34-2 victory over Warren-Alvarado-Oslo. Not even one. Senior Reed Sander gained 220 yards in 22 carries in the game.
"We're going to have to keep running the ball to use the clock and keep their offense off the field as much as we can," said Fosston coach Les Viken. "Obviously, we both like to run the ball. So it's going to come down to who can stop the other team."
KMS (9-2) runs about 90 percent of the time, although the Saints did throw 15 times while calling 56 running plays against Minneota in their Section 5A title game last Friday. Junior tailback Joel Bauman has run for 630 yards in 83 carries in the past two games, including a workhorse-like 47 carries for 269 yards in the championship.
"I think we'll match up with them pretty well size-wise," said KMS coach James Cortez, about his first-round opponent. "We're going to do the same things we have all season. We always try to stick with our running game and then use our play-action passes off that."
It's the first state trip for Fosston in football. The Greyhounds last reached the section final in 2002.
Sander, a 5-11, 185-pound tailback, leads the Greyhounds with just under 1,300 yards rushing. Andrew Juve, a 6-1, 190 junior fullback, has gained close to 600 yards. Junior quarterback Jake Juve attempts between 5-10 passes a game and completes 46 percent of them. He has thrown seven touchdowns and has only been intercepted twice.
"I expect they will come out and try to establish their running game and try to pound us up front," said Cortez. "We'll try to get them into down situations where they might have to throw the ball, something they probably don't want to do."
The Greyhounds are young on the offensive side of the ball with seven of the starters being underclassmen. Still, they average 25.6 points-per-game.
KMS senior quarterback Kevin Steinhaus has proven he can move the team through the air as evidenced by his 69-percent completion percentage and area-best 128.91 rating. He has thrown 15 touchdown passes, including three in the section championship, and has been picked off only five times in 97 passes. His favorite target is Taylor Freetly (see story on Page B-1), a 6-5 senior tight end, who has caught 39 passes for 797 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Defensively, Fosston allows only 10.9 points-per-game, while KMS is giving up 12.6 points.
"They seem to be pretty quick and swarm to the ball," remarked Cortez,
KMS is making its second straight state trip and fifth overall.