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Willmar Cardinals football preview

Willmar Cardinals (5-4) at Hutchinson Tigers (8-1)

Today, 7 p.m.

WILLMAR OVERVIEW: Willmar's season stalled last year in Hutchinson in the first round, a 33-8 setback. The Cardinals' defense will have its hands full trying to stop Jack Haffley (see below) and company. Both Willmar lines will be outweighed, although that's nothing new. The Cardinals can't count on shutting off the Tigers' offensive firepower, so they'll have to maintain the kind of offensive output they've had the last two games, admittedly against lesser quality opponents. Along with senior Taylor Filipek (46 catches, 518 yards), junior Ryan Lawler has become a go-to receiver the last two games with the former tight end nabbing 11 balls for 247 yards and three TDs. Quarterback Mark Dunham has thrown for 1,714 yards and 13 TDs. Junior running back Grant Schow has averaged 106 yards the last three games. The gang-tackling defense gave up 253 yards to the Marshall rush in 52 snaps with Nathaniel Swoyer, Patrick Schueller and Jake Rambow each in on at least 13 stops.

HUTCHINSON OVERVIEW: The Tigers have won eight straight games after a humiliating 41-0 loss to two-time defending Class AA champion Glencoe-Silver Lake. Junior Jack Haffley, an option quarterback with a strong arm, took over in Week 5 and since then the offense is averaging 51 points per game. The Tigers' bread-and-butter the last two years has been the running of tailback Jaedon Scott and fullback Jacob Brusehaver. Together, they've amassed 1,866 yards rushing this fall while tallying 24 TDs. The line averages 243 pounds, including ends Wes Corrigan (6-6, 232 pounds) and Brad Muckenhirn (6-6, 200 pounds). Right tackle Brahn Olson already has college size at 6-2, 316 pounds. Hutchinson is surely anticipating a rematch with Mankato West, which has knocked the Tigers out in Section 2AAAA the last three years, including 28-13 last season. West (8-0) is rated No. 1 in the AAAA and No. 5 Hutchinson (8-1), a spot behind Sartell.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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