Powerhouses collide as SEU hosts Springfield Friday
SLEEPY EYE — Two undefeated and top-10 Class A football programs will be meeting this Friday as Sleepy Eye United hosts Springfield at Sleepy Eye High School.
MaxPreps has the Tigers ranked No. 2 in Class A, while SEU is No.
While they both come in to the game with 4-0 records, the two schools are near opposites in every other way.
Springfield is an established football team that were runners-up in the state tournament last season, relying on their explosive passing game to get them victories.
“I think we have a lot of selfless kids,” Springfield head coach Adam Meyer said. “In order for us to be productive and successful, they really don’t care how it gets done, which is a testament to our leadership and our seniors that are on our team. Going back to last year, there were games where we would throw it upwards of 40 times and there were games where we would run it close to 40 times. Offensively, whatever is given to us is what we look to take.”
SEU head coach Brent Kucera said Springfield is an athletic, physical team.
“They’re a lot of athletes,” Kucera said. “They’ve got a lot of physical talent. They’re probably the most talented team in [Class] A football this year. They have a balanced attack. They can throw the deep ball with the best of them and they also have a way better running attack than people realize. They’re a balanced team with a lot of talent.”
SEU, on the other hand, is in their inaugural season as Sleepy Eye Public and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s combined programs this year and have found its calling card to be their dominant defense, pitching two shutouts this season.
“Right now, I think, to define our team identity, which we’re still working on, is we’re a defensive team right now,” Kucera said. “We’re a strong defense that doesn’t give up a lot of points with a balanced offensive attack.”
Meyer said his team will have to fight against a strong SEU defense.
“Just looking at their scores, I know they have a really strong defense,” Meyer said. “Watching them on film, they have athletes at all three levels of their defense and they do a really good job of trying to take certain things away. They make you earn every yard on offense.”
KEEP AN EYE ON…
Springfield’s offense runs through senior quarterback Jakob Nachreiner.
Last year’s All-Journal Football Offensive Player of the Year, Nachreiner is coming off a 40-touchdown campaign and is putting up arguably better numbers this season. Nachreiner has 1,105 yards and 21 touchdowns through the air, both the most in Minnesota Class A football, completing 63.2% of his passes and throwing only two interceptions.
“I think he’s developed a ton over the last three years now,” Meyer said. “Starting this year as the second year as a starter, he’s very comfortable with everything we run. What’s impressed me this season is his ability to take what’s there. He’s not forcing a lot of throws down the field. He’s taking what the defense gives him, puts the ball in our receivers’ hands and lets them make a play for him. When we do get those opportunities down the field he also tries to take advantage of those as well.
“He’s just played a lot of complete games for us over the last few years and his experience is something that we can rely on and it makes my job easier calling plays.”
For SEU, some of its standout defenders have been their defensive backs with Austin Uecker, Jon Petermann, Talan Helget and Winsten Nienhaus.
“We are really athletic on the back end, so we can do a lot of man-to-man coverage without giving them any help,” Kucera said. “So that really helps make our defense what it is.”
Offensively, many of the same names have stood out.
“They can run the ball, they can throw the ball,” Meyer said. “They have some pretty skilled athletes on the outside. When you’re trying to take the pass game away, they run the ball pretty well as well…
“Talan Helget’s a guy they like to throw the ball to up the field, he’s off to a pretty good start catching the ball. It starts with the run game as well. They have two running backs, Petermann and [Cody] Schultz who have a little bit different styles of running, but they both do a really good job of taking what’s there and breaking a tackle and getting some more as well.”
Nachreiner has spread the ball out between his three favorite targets in Brayden Sturm, Carter Olson and Ashton Toll. Sturm leads the team with 370 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, while Toll has 285 yards and five TDs and Olson has 238 yards and five TDs. Olson, who led the Tigers last season with 99 catches for 1,264 yards and 11 touchdowns, has missed two games this season but will be back for the matchup against SEU.
Springfield’s leader in the backfield will be Sam Rummel, who is averaging 5 yards per carry with 57 runs for 314 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Toll will lead the way from his middle linebacker position. Last year, Toll had a team-leading 199 tackles and is having another strong year with 36 total tackles and three tackles for loss.
Caden Evers has been playing quarterback for SEU, passing for 612 yards and nine TD’s to only one interception. Helget has caught 16 balls for 309 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 19.3 yards per reception. Uecker, meanwhile, has 12 receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
On the ground for SEU, Petermann has 46 carries for 304 yards and three touchdowns, including a long of 70 yards. Petermann averages 6.61 yards per carry. Schultz has added 39 carries for 166 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.3 per carry.
As a team, the SEU defense has forced eight turnovers on the season — seven interceptions and one fumble recovery. Uecker has four of those interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. SEU’s tackle leader has been Nienhaus with 25, and he also four TFL’s and a pick.
UNSTOPPABLE FORCE VS. IMMOVABLE OBJECT
Through four weeks, Springfield has averaged 44 points per game while giving up 14 ppg for a point differential of 120 points. The Tigers’ closest game this season was the MCC game in Week 2, where the point differential was 13. Springfield hasn’t scored less than 27 points in a game all season.
SEU, meanwhile, has averaged 27.8 ppg while giving up 7 ppg for a point differential of 83 points. Its closest game was the TMB game also in Week 2, where it won by 10 points. SEU hasn’t given up more than 14 points in a game this season.
Both teams have faced top competition in their own right and have come out on top. SEU defeated No. 9 Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 24-14, while Springfield defeated No. 13 Adrian/Ellsworth 48-0 and No. 21 Murray County Central 27-14.
This will also be Sleepy Eye High School’s Homecoming game. St. Mary’s celebrated its Homecoming last weekend with a shutout win over St. James.