Eagles have homecoming this week

NEW ULM – The fifth week of the local high school football season sees two local schools – Minnesota Valley Lutheran and New Ulm Cathedral – playing road games at Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s and Springfield respectively – while the Eagles of New Ulm High School celebrate Homecoming and also the first game on the new artificial turf field at the new high school when they meet Belle Plaine.

Taking a step out of the norm is the recognition of New Ulm Eagles’ senior running back Jordan Hillesheim, who after the Eagles’ 39-20 win over St. Peter, became the Eagles all-time career rushing leader with 3,162 yards – 368 of them coming this season.

He is the first high school player from any of New Ulm’s three high schools to crack the 3,000 career yard mark

New Ulm High School football coach Corey Kneeshaw said that Hillesheim wil be recognized next Friday on “Senior Night” when the Eagles host Waseca.

Here is a thumbnail sketch of this week’s games involving the local teams.

MINNESOTA VALLEY LUTHERAN (2-2) AT SLEEPY EYE ST. MARY’S (2-2) 7 P.M. ST. MARY’S

“They are a big team with good size and some pretty good athletes,” said Chargers’ head coach Jim Buboltz, whose team has won its last two games. “They can run and pass with the best of them. This is going to be a very challenging game.”

Buboltz said that the Knights resemble the offense run by Red Rock Central “with how big they are and some of the athletes that they have. St. Mary’s and Red Rock look a lot alike.”

Buboltz said that one of his biggest concerns about St. Mary’s is the size of their offensive line.

“We need to be able to control that line and that is where we have to put our work -we need to get physical. They are bigger on the offensive line than us but our defensive line will match up pretty good. This game will be a battle up front.”

Buboltz said that this match-up will be between “two teams that like to spread the ball out. We’ll see with the spread offenses of the two of us which one of us will be able to have a running game. If we can get their running game stopped in the spread we can maybe limit them to just kind of going power up on the line.”

One of the keys for the Chargers wil be quarterback A.J. Buboltz who has really come into his own running the read-option.

“It is like having another coach on the field,” Jim Buboltz said. “He calls a lot of plays out on the field – he makes a lot of the decisions out there first in the huddle and then on the line. It has been a real blessing to have him out there this year. It helps out the coaching staff and the players.”

NEW ULM CATHEDRAL (1-3) AT SPRINGFIELD (0-4) FRIDAY 7 P.M. SPRINGFIELD

It has been some time since four games into the football season perennial powers New Ulm Cathedral and Springfield have combined for just one win.

But the game is still a rivalry game with a win and pride on the line.

“They are a similar team that they have had in the past,” Cathedral head coach Denny Lux said. “They run the veer and are very deceptive with that veer. The big thing with them is that they want you to step inside and play the run – they will then throw the ball deep on you. Coach (Paul) Dunn has added some wrinkles in his playbook. They are very aggressive and their linebackers are active.”

Lux said that they keys for his defense will be to read their keys.

“Over the years where we have gotten in trouble a lot of times is where our secondary player covers a receiver and they peak inside at the running game and that receiver gets behind him. We really have to stop the run with our seven or eight guys and let the secondary guys defend the pass.”

Lux said that his pass coverage is a concern right now.

“We have seen on film that Springfield will throw the ball deep – they like to run the wheel and different combination routes,” he said. “So we need to do a better job on that. Red Rock caught us a couple of times on that last week on deep and outside patterns.”

Lux said that in his team’s last few games they have been in the red zone and have not scored.

“Our defense has done well all year. We are just not capitalizing when we are in the red zone. We have always been a three-back team and we need to get back to doing that. That is my responsibility.

“We need to get back on track,” Lux said. “We need to get back to where we want to be with our team. Both teams will be hungry for this one.”

BELLE PLAINE (3-1) AT NEW ULM HIGH SCHOOL (2-2) 7 P.M. NEW ULM HIGH SCHOOL FIELD

The first game on the New Ulm High School football field sees the Tigers of Belle Plaine meeting the Eagles for Homecoming.

“They are going to spread us out as they run some things similar to what we run formation-wise,” Eagles head coach Corey Kneeshaw said. “They have a good junior quarterback, a good running back. They are a spread offense team and we have not faced a spread offensive team this year other than when we practiced against ourselves.”

Kneeshaw said that the Tigers “are a 60-40 pass team to run so we will gear our defense more to that aspect. We did use a lot of pass defense in the summer so now we are just refreshing ourselves on that defense.”

Kneeshaw said that his team needs to become more balanced offensively.

“We need to control the line of scrimmage with our running game with Jordan and we also want to get the ball in the hands of Cooper Yackley on offense and on special teams. We need to get the ball in the hands of the right guy. I do not think that they are overly big up front defensively but they do slant their gaps real well. I do like the way that we are playing up front.”

The Eagles have two big events Friday with Homecoming and the initial game on the new field. Are the distractions something that worries Kneeshaw?

“The players have been asking if the field is ready yet,” Kneeshaw said. “Now it is but it is also Homecoming. The challenge for me is facing those distractions – it is Homecoming on the new field. I have really tried to keep the kids more focused especially in practice. We have to remain locked in for practice and focus on our assignments. The biggest thing that I want to avoid is that we get so pumped up and hyped up that come kick-off time we have a letdown. That is the biggest thing that I have been trying to work on with the team this week.”

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