Prep football: Cards, Eagles both look to snap three-game losing streaks
By Tom Larsontlarson@wctrib.com The Willmar football team has yet to rediscover the stick-to-itiveness that helped the Cardinals craft a comeback victory over Buffalo in the first game of the season. Since then, the Cardinals trailed Rocori by ju...
By Tom Larson
The Willmar football team has yet to rediscover the stick-to-itiveness that helped the Cardinals craft a comeback victory over Buffalo in the first game of the season.
Since then, the Cardinals trailed Rocori by just one point after the first quarter, only to watch the Spartans score 20 second-quarter points and win by three touchdowns.
In Week Three, Willmar and Brainerd were tied 7-7 at halftime. Then the Warriors outscored the Cardinals 19-6 in the second half.
And last week, Willmar handled elusive Alexandria quarterback Jaran Roste pretty well and cruised offensively, taking a 28-18 lead into halftime. The Cards were outscored 21-0 in the second half.
“From what we did the first game, coming back from 19 points down, it’s kind of been the opposite the last couple games,” said Cardinals head coach Jon Konold. “We’ve come out flat in the third quarter. Last week we scored 28 points in the first half. We have to continue to put points on the board. We’re doing some things differently that will hopefully help us out (tonight).”
The Cards’ opponent, St. Cloud Apollo, might seem like the team the Cardinals need to face right now. The 1-3 Eagles lost their last three games by 29 points, 37 points and 35 points.
But given Willmar’s propensity to go flat for significant stretches of games the last three weeks, the Eagles might not feel as vulnerable as their record and performances would make them seem.
The Eagles have solid skill players on offense and they like to throw the ball, Konold said.
Defensively, Apollo has proved susceptible to the run, which is an phase of the game the Cards’ need to exploit more effectively.
The Cardinals are averaging just 2.0 yards per carry and a mere 64.5 yards per game.
Sam Kerfeld has carried 60 times for 232 yards and three touchdowns, but the rest of the roster has run for 26 total yards.
“We’ve been working really hard on that this week getting the run game going,” Konold said. “We’re trying to find the right combination, quarterback, running back and offensive line. Once we find that, I think we have some guys there. But we haven’t been able to sustain much and then we got into throwing mode and we’d like to stay away from that if we can.”
Willmar’s Zach Radermacher has thrown well, completing 61 of 116 passes for 732 yards and eight touchdowns. The Cards have had 11 passes intercepted, however.
Max Doering leads Card receivers with 21 receptions for 286 yards and four TDs, Carlson has 18 catches for 253 yards and three touchdowns and Jarod Swoboda is averaging 15 yards on nine receptions and he has a touchdown.
Defensively, Carlson leads Willmar in tackles with 23 solos and 15 assists/ Tyler Johnson has made 10 solo tackles and has been in on 27 others and Breck Erickson has 16 solos and 14 assists.
Nate Ackerman has made 19 solo tackles and eight assists and he has two of the Cardinals’ three interceptions.
The teams are relatively even when it comes to strength of schedule, which has been difficult for both teams.
Apollo defeated 1-3 Cambridge-Isanti in its opener, then lost to 3-1 Brainerd 35-6, 2-2 Alexandria 70-33 and 4-0 Moorhead 49-14.
After opening with a 20-19 win over 0-4 Buffalo, the Cardinals have lost to 3-1 Rocori, Brainerd and Alexandria.
Apollo’s last three opponents have a combined record of 8-4 while Willmar’s last three foes are 9-3.
But with the season more than half over, the Cards need to find something that works game in, game out.
“It’s kind of getting to that time where we need to get a W,” Konold said.