Litchfield looking to avenge lone loss

LITCHFIELD -- It seems the farther a team goes in the Class AAA playoffs, the more likely it is to run into a Wright County Conference football team.

LITCHFIELD -- It seems the farther a team goes in the Class AAA playoffs, the more likely it is to run into a Wright County Conference football team.

It's nothing new for Litchfield, since they play -- and tied for first -- in the league. The Dragons will face co-champ Glencoe-Silver Lake in the state Class AAA semifinals at 3:15 p.m. today at the Metrodome.

The Panthers handed Litchfield its only loss Sept. 8, 25-18.

"It's not easy and it's not difficult. It's just something we have to do," said Dragons' head coach Jon Johnson on playing a team twice in the same season. "They know us well and we know them well, but we both have enough that we can surprise each other."

GSL has all ready dispatched another Wright County foe for the second time, beating Delano 48-20 in the state quarterfinals last Friday. It's not surprising to Panthers' head coach Dave Dose that Litchfield stands in the way of a trip to title game.


"We've had to do it a number of times in the past few years," he said of facing a team twice. "In a perfect world, you want to play a new team. It's not a shock to us that Litchfield is there. I think it is a little destined. You don't get this far if you are not good."

Running the ball consumes the Panthers' wishbone option offense. With quarterback Matt Muenchow and running backs Jonathan Hoese and Dustin Jurek, GSL had three players with at least 900 yards rushing.

"They like to run the football. You need to take care of things up front first," Johnson said. "It all starts at the line of scrimmage. We want to make it clean enough for our linebackers and defensive backs to make the tackles."

Though the wishbone option presents a number of concerns for any defense, the Panthers' main concern will be from Litchfield senior quarterback Kent Johnson.

"From our standpoint, it's how well we contain Johnson," Dose said. "If he runs all over and throws the ball, it's not going to be a good night. If we can slow him down and run the ball well, it will be to our advantage. That will be the game, right there."

Success for Litchfield will mean continuing to protect the ball. The Dragons turned the ball over five times in their first meeting with GSL. But in the last five games, Litchfield has just five giveaways.

Getting the right mix of offense could also be important. In their only loss, Litchfield rushed for 154 yards and passed for 260 and three touchdowns.

"I'm looking to be ready to take advantage of what we can. That's what we've been trying to do all year long," Johnson said. "We'll run the ball when we need and pass the ball when we have to. We threw the ball and we ran the ball well last week (in a 36-18 win over Thief River Falls) and that is a key to success in any football that you play."

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