By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
At times, the Mankato East football team has played good defense. Last week against Rochester Century, the offense showed some life.
If the Cougars can get both working at the same time ...
“We just need to put everything together,” coach Eric Davis said.
East (0-5, 0-4 in Big Nine) hosts Albert Lea (0-5, 0-4) at 7 p.m. Friday in the annual homecoming football game at Wolverton Field.
“I know we’ll be ready emotionally,” Davis said.
The Cougars are averaging just 9.8 points, with 48.6 yards rushing and 122.3 yards passing per game.
Cody Lorentz is the top rusher with 123 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Quarterback Nic Seiler has completed 37 of 69 passes for 453 yards and one touchdown, with Jordan Grams catching 16 passes for 208 yards and a score.
“When we’ve been able to protect, we’ve done some good things in the passing game,” Davis said. “Our inability to run the ball has really hurt us.
Linebacker Lincoln Benzkofer has a team-high 83 tackles, with 19 solos, and Lorentz has 55 tackles.
“Defensively, we’ve played fairly well,” Davis said. “We had a tough time against the run (last week against Rochester Century), but we did some good things before that.
Lineman Drew Quame, who missed the last game with concussion, is questionable to play this week. He has started in both the offensive and defensive lines.
Big game in SCC
Blue Earth Area (5-0, 2-0) plays at St. Peter (5-0, 3-0) on Friday, with the winner gaining an advantage in the South Central Conference championship race.
The Bucs, defending conference champions, have had to replace the quarterback, running back and entire offensive line from last season’s state-tournament team, and coach Randy Kuechenmeister said that his defense, most of which returned this season, has played well.
“You never know each season how you’re going to be,” Kuechenmeister said. “Hopefully, your team gains confidence each week and gets better. We’re still trying to figure some things out.”
Junior Kysten Zierke has stepped in at quarterback, leading the team in rushing at 316 yards and seven touchdowns and completing 34 of 65 passes for 401 yards and three scores. Carter Hanson, Gus Phillips and David Franta have all rushed for more than 200 yards and combined for 10 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Bucs have allowed only 9.2 points per game, yielding an average of 55.6 yards rushing and 118.6 yards passing. BEA has created 13 turnovers.
“We’ve had different kids step up each game,” Kuechenmeister said. “If (the opponent) takes something away, some else does the job.”
Games to watch
Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (4-1, 3-0) plays at Medford. WEM leads the Gopher Valley 2A Conference by a game over Medford and Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial.
Tri-City United (5-0, 4-0) holds a one-game lead in the Minnesota River Conference, while Sibley East (4-1, 3-1) is in a three-way tie for second. The teams play Friday at Arlington.
Madelia (4-1) plays at Cleveland (4-1) on Friday, with the winner still keeping hope alive in the Southern Confederacy.