NEW ULM - In the fourth week of the high school football season here in New Ulm, the New Ulm Eagles will be the only show in town as they host the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers 7 p.m. Friday night at Johnson Field.
That same time on Friday will see Minnesota Valley Lutheran making a long trek to Blooming Prairie, while the Greyhounds of New Ulm Cathedral will take a much shorter trip than that of the Chargers as they head west to take on the Sleepy Eye Indians in a Southern Minnnesota Conference battle.
Minnesota Valley Lutheran (2-2) at Blooming Prairie (2-1), 7 p.m. Friday
One thing is certain about the Blooming Prairie football team - it has one of the most unique nicknames in the "Awesome Blossoms."
It is also a very good football team.
But the Chargers, coming off of their best performance of the season with a 48-0 win over Mankato Loyola last week, are hoping to use that performance as a springboard this week.
"Our line made a big step forward last week," Chargers head coach Jim Buboltz said. "They were not happy about us being 1-2. They felt that we were a much better team than our record showed. Hopefully that win can get us going."
Buboltz said that his Chargers will face a Blooming Prairie team that likes to throw the ball.
"They are going to throw the ball a lot," Buboltz said. "They average well over 40 passes a game and closer to 50 passes a game. So we need to get ready for that."
Buboltz said that the players on the Blossoms "are kids who have been on a lot of teams that have won conference titles and state tournament-type teams."
Blooming Prairie will run out of the spread formation.
"They have outstanding receivers, and they have a good quarterback," Buboltz said.
Buboltz feels that his team's confidence level is high after last week's win.
"But the team knows that these next games (at Blooming Prairie, home next Saturday night against Faribault Bethlehem Academy) will take a big effort from our team," Buboltz said. "But there is going to be a lot on the defense, there is no doubt about that."
"We are not going to change a lot on defense," he added. "We just need to make sure that the players know their responsibilities and we will be fine."
On offense, Buboltz wants his offense to keep the ball on the ground and keep the ball out of the hands of the Blossom air show.
"That is the way that we have to approach it," Buboltz said.
Last week Kris Goetzke rushed for 134 yards and Matthew Tessmer had 104 yards rushing for MVL.
"That opened up some passing for us," Buboltz said. "We felt comfortable last week."
Buboltz said that the long bus ride should not affect his team.
"They are used to that," he said. "Some of our kids come from this distance just to get to school every day. We'll be OK."
Blue Earth Area (3-0, 0-0) at New Ulm (0-3, 0-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Johnson Field
In their first three games, the Buccaneers have scored 45, 37 and 39 points. Their 37-21 win was over St. Paul Highland Park, the 10th ranked team in Class AAAA.
Friday night, New Ulm hopes to rebound from a loss to Tracy-Milroy-Balaton and get in the win column in this South Central Conference meeting.
"We watched film of them last week against Windom," New Ulm head coach Tony Ortmann said. "They spread the ball out every now and then, but they will still try and get under center. They have always been solid in the past and they have a very good coaching staff."
"They get in the 'I' formation, get in the spread and even get in the shotgun formation, so they do a lot of things," Ortmann added. "We have to prepare for a little bit of everything."
Ortmann said that the Bucs resemble TMB in the way that they spread the ball out.
"They have some talent athletically and they have some physical players, so we need to be able to stop them," Ortmann said.
Last week, Ortmann felt that his team did play well on offense.
"We moved the ball for 300 yards on the ground," he said. "We struggled a little bit in the passing game. It hurt when we lost (starting quarterback) Chris Mulder, but Blake Piotter came in and did a nice job for us."
Ortmann said that defensively his Eagles need to work on better tackling and running to the football.
"It is an easy game when you can do those two things," he said. "We are really stressing those things in practice."
Ortmann said that Mulder's status is not known yet and that he may be a game-time decision.
Last week in the 46-20 loss to TMB, Ortmann said that he felt that his team controlled the game.
"We moved the ball on offense very well and on defense we were making big plays (like Grant Kannegiesser's interception for a touchdown)," Ortmann said. "But then we would have a breakdown and they would score."
"Instead of putting down the throttle and crushing their hopes, they end up coming back," Ortmann added. "We want to see effort and hustle from the players."
This year, the South Central Conference is strong with St. Peter, Fairmont, BEA and Waseca.
"This is a good conference," Ortmann said. "It is hard to pick a dominant team. Waseca may have the best running back in the conference (Ryan Kolander) and he is playing quarterback."
Ortmann said that his team needs to establish its game with the run and then play-action.
"When we do pass, we need to be able to protect our quarterback," he said.
New Ulm Cathedral (1-2) at Sleepy Eye (1-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Sleepy Eye High School
New Ulm Cathedral football coach Denny Lux knows that when his team plays the Indians, it needs to be ready.
"Cory Haala and Joe Hoffmann will always have their players ready on offense and defense," Lux said. "We have not played them for quite some time, I think that this game will come down to which team executes their offense and defense."
The Indians, who won their first game but have lost their last two, started out the season running a spread offense.
"That is what they wanted to do, but they also have their 'I' formation and double slot offense always ready," Lux said.
Lux said that after watching film of his team's loss to Sleepy Eye St. Mary's last week he saw that his team has plenty of spurts where it played well.
"Going into the fourth quarter it was anyone's game (tied at 14)," Lux said. "We feel it is a positive to come off of for our team. We feel that we have made a good stride forward as a team. That is what everyone wants to do at this point. We are confident that we will keep playing well."
In losses to both Springfield and St. Mary's, the Greyhounds have been guilty of some costly turnovers.
"Not only do they hurt you field position-wise, but they pull you down mentally," Lux said. "We need to do a better job protecting the ball on offense, and on defense we need to create some turnovers."
Jake Stadick, who was injured last week, is expected back this week.
"Jacob Gangelhoff (who was injured in the first game) is out 3-4 more weeks for sure," Lux said. "Kyle Franta got a concussion, so he will be out for a little bit. There are a lot of teams that are dealing with injuries now, in Class A football that makes you move people around a little bit."
In the game with St. Mary's, late in the game Cathedral's Adam Schnobrich ran the ball down to the Knights' six yard line. St. Mary's was also flagged for a personal foul, moving the ball to the three yard line. But it was not an automatic first down and the drive stalled there.
"There are only four types of penalties that are automatic first downs," Lux said. "The problem there was that it is not a first down unless the yardage gets it. It was only half the distance to the goal, so it was not a first down. That was the explantation we got."