Ridgewater football preview
Vermilion (0-2) at Ridgewater (0-2)
Today at 3 p.m. at Hodapp Field
VERMILION?OVERVIEW: In the home opener for Ridgewater, Vermilion visits Willmar looking to bounce back from a 42-7 loss at Ely to Rochester. That followed a 35-13 setback to Minnesota West at the Kickoff Classic. That's a tougher schedule than Ridgewater's played so far, but the Ironmen still have to be concerned that the defense is allowing 465 yards per game. Middle linebacker Ethan Washek was so busy against the Yellowjackets that his 19 tackles earned Defensive Player of the Week honors in the MCAC North. Vermilion fans out four or even five wide receivers for quarterback Logan McAllister, who has averaged 33 pass attempts per game. He's thrown for 293 yards with four interceptions and two touchdowns. Running back Anthony Sealey is averaging 4.5 yards in 25 attempts.
RIDGEWATER?OVERVIEW: Unlike the 7-0 opening-day loss to Itasca, Ridgewater showed up at Virginia ready to play and led Mesabi Range 8-0 at halftime. But six turnovers -- one taken for a TD -- foiled the Warriors who lost by a two-point conversion in the third overtime, 23-21. The passing game generated 161 yards and two TDs, but quarterbacks Jackson Illies and Colton Otto were intercepted four times. The running game has yet to come around with Davontay Stevens (44 carries-128 yards, 2.9 average). Dinged-up Cameron Halverson and Deryl Thomas, a linebacker with good speed, may get their shot. Also dealing with injuries are starting defensive ends Rob Diane (ankle) and Nate Wensauer (hyper-extended elbow), both hurt midway in the Mesabi game. Marcus Morrissette, Josh Boyda and Jacques Mitchell did a good job filling in, said coach Rob Baumgarn. He also applauded the play of the freshman Otto "who we need to get reps in case Illies goes down." Baumgarn added: "Our slotback receivers, Jake Bothun and Keante Johnson, did a good job." The two freshmen combined for 10 catches and 105 yards. New this home season, players and parents are combining to buy food for a cookout near the north gate after each game.