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Willmar Cardinals Football Preview

Section 2AAAA Semifinals

Willmar (6-3) at Marshall (8-1)

Today, 8 p.m. at Southwest State University

A LOOK AT WILLMAR: This is a chance for Willmar to win two games in the post-season for the first time since 1988, when the Cardinals defeated Buffalo, St. Cloud Apollo and Elk River to win the section title for a second straight year. Willmar's 21-7 win over Hutchinson (4-5) in the quarterfinals handed one of the state's elite program its first losing season since 1973. Willmar plays for the first time at the new Mattke Field, which has artificial turf. Despite the windy conditions on Tuesday, quarterback Alex Grove was 6-of-10 for 134 yards with no picks and a touchdown. The Cardinals' defense has allowed only two touchdowns in 12 quarters since giving up 39 points at Sartell on Oct. 8. The game will be played at 8 p.m. because Southwest Minnesota State is playing Winona State at 4:30 p.m.

A LOOK AT MARSHALL: The Tigers fell behind Willmar 20-0 a year ago in the quarterfinals at Hodapp Field, but bounced back to take a 21-20 lead before falling 34-28. This year's edition has won five straight since their only loss, to Jackson County Central. Marshall, JCC and Luverne each finished 5-1 to tie for the Southwest Conference title. The No. 2-seeded Tigers blanked No. 7 New Ulm 33-0 last Tuesday, holding the Eagles to 50 yards rushing and 84 passing with two interceptions. Marshall is averaging 31.3 points-per-game and allowing only 12.0 ppg. Running back Beau Bofferding has sprinter speed and fullback Brennan Cable is a 6-foot-2, 240-pound load. In winds gusting from 40-50 mph at Mattke Field on Tuesday, 6-3 junior Alex Fenske completed 7-of-14 passes for 79 yards, an interception, and a 17-yard touchdown to Mason Schniable, who caught four passes for 52 yards.

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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