By Jim Bastian
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM - Weeks 2 and 3 will see all three New Ulm football teams playing at Johnson Field.
Friday night, New Ulm opens its home and South Central Conference season when it host St. Peter in a 7 p.m. contest.
Saturday will see a football doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. when New Ulm Cathedral and Red Rock Central clash in a Southern Minnesota Conference tilt before Minnesota Valley Lutheran caps off a weekend of high school football with a 7 p.m. meeting with Wabasso.
ST. PETER (1-0, 0-0 SCC) AT NEW ULM (0-2, 0-0 SCC), 7 p.m. on Friday at Johnson Field
Last week, the Eagles lost their second straight game of the season, falling to Belle Plaine 34-13 while the Saints opened their 2013 campaign by beating LeSueur-Henderson 41-7.
NUHS coach Tony Ortmann saw the St. Peter win firsthand because New Ulm played Thursday.
"They are an athletic team and very similiar to last year," Ortmann said. "They like to use their option game to their advantage and use all three threats with the dive, quarterback keeper and the pitch so we will have to be a very disciplined team defensively against them."
Ortmannn said that defending option football is one where his team can defend it successfully 20 times in a row but then a player can miss an assignment and it turns into a big play.
This will be the second option offense that New Ulm will see having played Luverne the first game of the season.
"That was a game where our defense played very well in," Ortmann said. "They were more of a 'bring every one in tight' option team while St. Peter is more of a spread option team."
The Saints will show a 3-5 defensive alignment.
"Their linebackers play very fast so we will try and slow them down a little bit with some misdirection," Ortmann said.
In both of the Eagles' losses this season, they have seen second-half collapses turn into losses.
"We are putting more stress on the conditioning level of our players," Ortmann said. "If we can keep our players going for four quarters and have the energy to finish that fourth quarter we will be in good shape."
Ortmann also hopes to lessen the turnovers.
"The throws from the quarterback become more clear as they get more reps," Ortmann said. "We have not had a lot of reps at our quarerback yet this season as both [Blake Piotter and Nate Glaubitz] are new to the position. But we have not put to many balls on the ground, which is a good sign."
Ortmann said that the starting quarterback will be a game-time decision.
RED ROCK CENTRAL (0-1, 0-1 SMC) AT NEW ULM CATHEDRAL (0-1, 0-1 SMC), 3 p.m. on Saturday at Johnson Field
Both the Greyhounds and the Falcons suffered season openimg losses last week. Cathedral fell to Martin County West 42-20 while RRC dropped a 55-0 game to Springfield.
"Last week was every team's first game of the season," said Cathedral coach Denny Lux. "Every team improves from game 1 to game 2 so we know that coach Isaac Jenniges and his team will be well-prepared."
Lux said the Falcons have typically been a running team.
"I watched their game Friday with Springfield and it sure looked like they wanted to establish the run against them," Lux said.
Lux and his coaching staff not only watch film of RRC's last game but, like they have on all teams, have files on each team that they play.
"We keep files for a few years and look for trick plays that they have used and formations that maybe you have not seen recently," Lux said. "But we know that their coaching staff will add to their offense that they ran last week."
The Falcons will show a five-man defensive front and try to get their linebackers active while letting the secondary play the pass.
Cathedral did suffer some bumps and bruises in its game last week, but had an extra two days of preparation thanks to its Thursday kickoff and upcoming Saturday game.
"When you are used to playing 'B' squad and then jump to Friday night it takes a while to get caught up with the speed and timing."
Lux said that field position and not getting caught on any trick plays will be some of the keys Saturday.
WABASSO (1-0, 1-0 SMC) AT MINNESOTA VALLEY LUTHERAN (0-1, 0-1 SMC), 7 p.m. on Saturday at Johnson Field
Minnesota Valley Lutheran head football coach Jim Buboltz said that Wabasso is an athletic team. Last week the Rabbits beat Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart 34-8.
"They mix in the run and pass, they use a bunch of formations to try and keep you off-balance defensively," Buboltz said. "They have a lot of athletes - they have kids that can do a lot of things."
Do teams make the most improvements from Week 1 to Week 2?
"Some people believe that but the truth of the matter is I really think that your opening game is really big," Buboltz said. "Just because it shows what you did from the scrimmage in one week. I really think from the last scrimage to the opening week is what I see as a big change either way."
Buboltz said adding more plays on offense is a natural progression.
"You do not want to give the kids any more than they can handle," Buboltz said. "We feel that we came into the first week with a plan and then from there we go ahead and make a few additions."
Buboltz said that his team is ready to get back on the field Saturday night.
"We need to take care of the ball Saturday night, we need to take care of the big play," Buboltz said. "We gave up one big play against Sleepy Eye St. Mary's, but we had a bunch of tackles for losses so we need to keep that up for this week."