NEW ULM - Minnesota Valley Lutheran head football coach Jim Buboltz said that his team's 12-7 loss to United South Central Friday night "was a tough way to start of the year."
"We obviously expected more," he said. "It is early in the year and we made some what I call just silly, preseason mistakes. But the players competed at a high level, and if we get that kind of effort each week, we will be just fine."
MVL took a 7-0 lead over USC when quarterback Ryan Grunke broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run on an option play in the first quarter.
"They put a lot of players in the box - they blitzed us quite a bit," Buboltz said. "But we ran the ball for 262 yards in the game. At times we did a better job of blocking the blitz than at other times."
While the ground game was strong, Buboltz said that the passing attack "was something that we have to improve on."
"We know that, and we will have to keep working on that," Buboltz said. "But when you are under a lot of pressure, you are not comfortable throwing the ball either."
Buboltz felt that at times the offensive line was very good.
"But at times it was apparent it was the first game," he said. "We'll keep working with that group - we did have 262 yards on the ground. That is a good game on the ground. The line did just fine for their first time out."
The Charger defense gave up two touchdowns to the Rebels in the air.
"One of them came when one of our defensive backs slipped and fell and tripped over another receiver," Buboltz said. "That left an area wide open."
MVL was denied a score in the second quarter when Grunke picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown.
"But it got called back on a penalty," Buboltz said.
Take that penalty call away and you are probably looking at an MVL win.
Buboltz said that he was happy with the way the team competed.
"We were in the entire game," he said. "I thought that we should have won. We played well enough to win."
Buboltz said that improvement is needed is the passing attack.
"And we also need to clean things up," he said. "We had some crucial penalties at times. We had that 35-yard touchdown taken away. We had nine penalties for about 100 yards."
Zero Week forces game
MVL was one of several teams that played Friday night because of "Zero Week."
Buboltz said that he is not overly fond of it.
"But that will be one advantage of coming to the new conference, that we will not have to worry about that," he said. "We will lose a couple of days of practice on Week Seven before our bye week. That is ultimately not going to be that bad for us."
Cathedral in scrimmage
New Ulm Cathedral head football coach Denny Lux felt that his inter-team scrimmage Saturday morning at the Martin Luther College football practice field showed how serious his team took it.
"You can tell that the sophomores that are going to be playing were nervous," he said. "We had some parents and fans watching us, and even though it is an inter-team scrimmage, they take it serious. They did get some butterflies out of them after the first few snaps. A big part of our success will be our seniors being leaders and helping move these younger players along on the varsity."
Lux felt that his running backs got off of the ball quick in the scrimmage.
"Adam Schnobrich, Austin Cooper and Jacob Gangelhoff ran well and Jake Stadick did a good job coming from the split end spot - playing wingback at times," Lux said. "We have players who step up each season, and that is part of our tradition here at Cathedral."
"We have not seen a player like Barrett Carlson, who has just one year of football under his belt," Lux added. "He is a good athlete and is going to play some defensive end for us. There are a number of players who will have to step up."
Collin Helget, a sophomore, took most of the varsity snaps at quarterback.
"He is a good athlete," Lux said. "Coach Bob Weier had him on the baseball team pitching for the varsity. He has some game experience and he has some pressure experience. He knows what his role is."
Nick Larson, a senior, will be playing some offensive and defensive tackle.
"He played with us when he was a freshman," Lux said. "He is a good-sized kid and he is smart. He plays hockey along with baseball."
Lux likes having his team scrimmage at MLC prior to the season.
"We have been doing this for the past four years," Lux said. "We appreciate that Martin Luther College lets us use their practice field - it gives us a different feel coming up here."
Lux said that all of his players were playing in the scrimmage.
"They are playing and learning," he said. "We do not have guys sitting on the sidelines like a typical scrimmage where they are not paying attention or getting anything out of it."
He added that each year his players go out to the South Dakota State University football camp.
"And find out right away that our players know how to hit - they understand contact - so we do not need to be in a scrimmage where there is a lot of contact," Lux said.