Cedar Mountain looks to stop skid vs. tested and well-rested RRC
MORGAN — After a 30-22 win over New Ulm Cathedral in New Ulm two weeks ago, Red Rock Central got to celebrate with a bye week it didn’t really want.
The Falcons (2-1) were to be the home team to Westbrook-Walnut Grove last Friday. Due to injuries and not having enough players, however, WWG opted to just play a JV game with RRC.
WWG will now play JV only the remainder of the year.
The Falcons are hungry to get back into the in-game varsity action, though, and will travel to Morgan for a 5:30 p.m. Friday night football game with the Cedar Mountain Cougars.
But the question is, will there be any rust for RRC to knock off?
“Maybe,” RRC head coach Isaac Jenniges said. “Especially after you feel like you had some good things going after our last game against New Ulm Cathedral. But it is the situation, the hand that we’ve been dealt and you have to find a way to take the best out of that scenario and move on and get ready for the next week.”
On the other side of the coin, the prior two weeks of the football season haven’t been too kind to the Cougars as they’re coming off of back-to-back losses, most recently a 22-19 home loss to Cathedral to drop them to 2-2 on the year.
While the Cougars took the first lead of the game after a quick TD pass from senior quarterback Cooper Freitag to senior wideout Lane Guggisberg, the Greyhounds controlled most of the game after that with a powerful rushing attack.
“They like to run it, so if you make them pass, maybe that works to our advantage, make them do something they don’t do, but we didn’t make the plays when we needed to and they did,” Cedar Mountain head coach Dwane Jemmings said. “I think we ran a total of 18 plays all night, but it was just that ball-control offense. It took them eight, nine minutes to get their scores, but we had our opportunities, we just didn’t make the plays when we needed to and they did.”
Freitag made the move to running back for most of the game against Cathedral but made it work, rushing for 75 yards on seven carries. He also completed 2 of 2 passes for 78 yards and a TD.
And for RRC and coach Jenniges, taking down Cedar Mountain will largely rest on how they can limit Freitag.
“He’s a load to tackle,” Jenniges said. “He’s a good player, he’s kind of their do-everything guy. Kicks off, kicks PATs, punts, plays middle linebacker, he is the prototypical best player on a nine-man football team. He’s the guy that you can look to to be involved in just about every play in some fashion. And he’s the key to a lot of what they do, and we’ll have to be aware of him. Last year, we struggled down the stretch tackling him when we needed to. And he’s a good, hard, physical football player.
“To go along with that, they’ve got some guys on the outside that can get behind you on defense. They like to throw the ball short in space as an extension of the run game. They force you to play in space a little bit against some of their athletes, so we’ve got to be ready for that. But it’s a big section game, they’ve lost two in a row, losing the way they lost last week right at the end, probably left a little bit of a bad taste in their mouth and they’re trying to get one back up in the section standings. … I fully look for it to be a physical football game again.”
Establishing a run game early will be another key for the Falcons against the Cougars, along with taking what the defense gives them.
Jemmings said RRC is a physical team and he expects them to run the ball.
“When we play Isaac’s teams there over in Red Rock, we know that they’re going to be physical and they love to run the ball,” Jemmings said. “Three running backs in the backfield, they just like to pound it. One of the things we like with Isaac is if one play’s working, he’ll keep running that until you stop it.”
If the Cougars want to bounce back against the Falcons, they’ll need to clean up their tackling and win the battle at the line.
“People don’t like hearing this, but it’s tackling and blocking,” Jemmings said. “If we can meet them at the line of scrimmage instead of giving them 3, 4 yards after the hit, but if we can tackle at the line of scrimmage, put them in long distances for passing, I like our chances. But we’ve just got to be able to tackle and block and go from there.”
Jemmings also said getting senior Branndon Pendleton more involved will be something he’s looking to get in motion.
“The scary thing is, we haven’t got Branndon Pendleton going yet, and we are getting that in the process,” Jemmings said. “If we get Branndon going back there wherever he is on the field, it’s going to be scary. If we get him going, we’ll be dangerous, it gives us another weapon. We moved Cooper last week, he’s playing a little bit of running back with Branndon back there and we’ve got a sophomore in Carson Schiller, who stepped in as quarterback, and we looked good on offense, it’s just a matter of time.”
Carter Therkilsen, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back who has led RRC on the ground since last season, has been out of commission after suffering an in-practice injury before the Cathedral game this year.
He is likely to be a game-time decision again this Friday.
“One of the good things about not playing last week is I don’t know if he would’ve been able to play,” Jenniges said. “He was still a little slow when he tried to do things in practice last week and in a situation where it would’ve been another game-time, ‘Can you go, can you not go?’ He probably would have been on the no-good side.”
Jenniges said he had a couple of players get nicked up in the physical game with Cathedral two weeks ago and he wasn’t sure they’d have been able to play last week. The in-game action break has Jenniges expecting to see most of them back on the field this Friday.
Jemmings said he’s got some players banged up, but they’re not expected to miss Friday’s game. In fact, he’s expecting to see defensive end Dante Otto back in the mix.
“Dante Otto will be back this week, he was out in concussion protocol, everything looks good for him,” Jemmings said. “There’s a kid that, he’s our defensive end, he’s probably 170 pounds, but the kid plays like he’s 220. He’s tougher than nails, he likes contact. Him gone last week hurt us a little bit because we couldn’t really substitute a little more people, but he’ll be back for us this week, so we’ll be interested in what he can do for us.”
KEEP AN EYE ON…
While the Cougars have their share of playmakers, Freitag still holds the keys to the Cedar Mountain offense and is a disruptor on defense as well.
Jenniges said Freitag is a hard player to pressure due to being so good on his feet and added that he and his coaches will have to try to scheme around Freitag to prevent big plays.
“If he gets in the open in a situation where all your guys are covering downfield, he’s got 10 to 15 guaranteed with the way he can run the ball,” Jenniges said. “So we’re going to have to scheme accordingly, try to find a way to keep him in the pocket and do our job on the back end and hope that we can get him to throw it into some tight windows and maybe make a play, or get him on the ground if he is in his space and get him for a loss here and there and try to put ourselves in a good situation defensively.”
Jemmings said if Therkilsen is cleared to play, he will be a big name to keep an eye on.
“Kid’s one of the better backs, one of the top backs … probably in the area,” Jemmings said. “But him, and it’s going to come down to their offensive line, defensive line against ours, who does the blocking and who fights off the blocks.”
In the loss to Cathedral, Freitag spent most of his night behind Carson Schiller, who showed off his arm by completing 8 of 13 passes for 159 yards and two TDs. With Schiller’s ability to step in at quarterback and play well, the Cougars could end up showing multiple different looks again Friday.
Guggisberg caught four passes for 161 yards and two TDs against Cathedral, while Blake Steffl nabbed five passes for 69 yards and a score. Pendleton led the Cougars on the ground with four carries for 50 yards.
Defensively against Cathedral, Freitag led with 15 total tackles, while Easton Csordacsics had two tackles for a loss and a sack. Aiden Guetter and Parker Kerkhoff also combined for a sack, with Guetter adding seven tackles.
When RRC defeated Cathedral two weeks ago, quarterback Isaac Simonson was a big reason for that win as he completed 15 of 20 passes for 220 yards and three TDs and an interception. Quintyn Vold was Simonson’s top target in the win with seven catches for 165 yards and two TDs.
Last season when RRC and Cedar Mountain met in Lamberton, the Cougars battled back with 14 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Falcons 22-13.
The Cougars are averaging 25.8 points per game and allowing 25 ppg this season, while RRC is averaging 21.3 ppg and giving up 30.3 ppg.
This Friday’s game will be a non-traditional Homecoming game for RRC, which is why the game will kick off earlier at 5:30 p.m. Students and fans will now have more time to drive back home and partake in Homecoming festivities.
RRC has played every game away from Lamberton this year, however, due to the new school’s construction and not having a playable field. This Friday’s game will, however, still be a “home” game for the Cougars.