By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
Marshall has a big, physical team that gave Mankato East some trouble in the season-opener.
There were problems lining up correctly on defense and execution issues offensively.
“I think we’ve done a decent job of eliminating the mistakes,” East coach Eric Davis said. “We’ve had a lot of self-inflicted problems on offense, and defensively, we need to play with a lot of intensity and tackle better. If we do that, we’ll be OK.”
East (0-8) plays at top-seeded Marshall (8-0) at 7 p.m. today in the opening round of the Section 2AAAA playoffs. In the season opener Aug. 31, Marshall defeated East 42-7. East’s only score came on an interception return by senior Brandon Adema.
Quarterback Nic Seiler has passed for 911 yards and six touchdowns, with Jordan Grams catching 36 passes for 481 yards and four scores. The Cougars have four rushers with more than 100 yards this season, led by Adema at 172.
Defensively, Davis said his team needs to play the way it did during close games with Rochester Mayo, Rochester Century and Winona.
Eagles losing QB
When Maple River (6-2) hosts New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (1-7) in a Section 3AA game tonight, it could be the final game for Maple River quarterback Michael Lewis. The senior leaves this week to participate on Team USA at the Junior Men’s World Championships fastpitch softball tournament, which will be held Nov. 1-10 at Argentina.
“We’re trying pretty hard to keep everyone focused,” coach Brian Schoneck said. “It’s a team game, and somebody else would have to step up. If a guy at another position gets hurt, the next guy in line has to step in and do the job.”
Lewis missed most of last season with a knee injury, which also cost him the basketball and baseball seasons. He was selected to the national softball team this summer, knowing he might miss playoff football.
“We went though this last year when he got hurt,” Schoneck said. “Garret FitzSimmons stepped in, and we went on a four-game winning streak. We know this will have an impact; we just hope it’s not a huge impact.”
This season, Lewis has passed for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. In a 21-6 victory over NRHEG on Oct. 12, he completed 14 of 18 passes for 179 yards and a score. In that game, the Eagles defense made seven sacks and five interceptions.
Waseca (2-5) defeated Albert Lea (2-6) 42-7 in the season opener on Aug. 30, and those teams meet again, this time at Waseca, in the quarterfinals of the Section 1AAAA playoffs tonight.
In Section 2A, New Ulm Cathedral (5-3) won at Sleepy Eye (1-7) 39-12 in a Southern Minnesota Conference game on Sept. 21. Cathedral hosts the rematch at 7:30 p.m. today at Johnson Park.
There are several rematches in Section 2, 9-Man. Nicollet (8-0) hosts Alden-Conger (0-8), having just defeated the Knights 49-14 on Wednesday. Madelia (6-2) defeated Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 48-20 on Sept. 21 and will host the Bulldogs (3-5) again today. Cleveland (6-2) hosts Randolph (1-7) tonight; Randolph lost 39-0 at Cleveland on Oct. 12.