Willmar Football Week 4 Preview
Sauk Rapids Overview
The Storm has played a rugged schedule. They lost the opener to current No. 4 (AAAA) Rogers 33-0 and last Friday fell to Class 5A St. Cloud Tech (3-0) by a 14-0 count. In between, they handed Sartell (2-1) a 25-22 defeat. The Sabres rebounded Friday beating Brainerd 8-3. Observes Willmar head coach Jon Konold: "They're a typical hard-nosed, physical Sauk Rapids team with tough defense and an offense that emphasizes ball possession. They're built for running the ball. We will need to execute and put up some points early." Last year, after going 4-4 in the regular season, the Storm beat Little Falls, Sartell and Alexandria (27-26) for the Section 8-AAAA title. Running back Aaron Sutliffe (6-1, 225) ran for a thousand yards; also back is 6-2, 220-pound tight end Tyler Moon.
Last week at Hodapp Field, the Cardinals got inside the Rocori 20 four times but came away empty each time (their TD came on a 31-yard pass from Alex Grove to Dean Stier). Willmar has scored four TDs in three games despite averaging 306 yards per game. Grove has thrown for 505 yards, more than half of those to Stier (17-271). Grove is also carrying a big part of the rushing game (40-185). Alfred Richards had his first 100-yard game Friday and is now averaging 5.6 per carry (41-231). The coaches would like to see Grove run less but many of the carries are off the option and when the end takes the running back (Richards), Grove tucks and goes. Coach Konold said the defense played well enough to win against a good Rocori offense, especially the first half and midway through the third. But the offense must finish. "I think we (the coaches) need to focus more on running once in the red zone and less on passing. He added that another focus will be getting better play from special teams on kickoff and punt returns.