By Jim Bastian
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM - The last time New Ulm Cathedral and Minnesota Valley Lutheran met on the football field was a memorable game in the 2011 Section 2A playoffs. The Greyhounds came away with a 28-20 game in one of the best high school football games that Johnson Field was ever hosted.
Friday night in Week Seven of the local high school football scene, these two teams meet again in a Southern Minnesota Conference clash at 7 p.m. at Johnson Field.
Cathedral enters this game with a 4-2 conference mark while the Chargers, who started out this season at 0-3, have ran off three straight wins.
Both teams trail SMC co-leaders Sleepy Eye St. Mary's and Wabasso, who are both spotless at 6-0 and Martin County West at 5-1.
The game is also important as Cathedral is ranked 25th by QRF in Class A while the Chargers are right behind at 26th.
"They are playing good football," said Cathedral coach Denny Lux, whose team will be the 'home' team for the game. "They have strung some wins together. They were patient early on in the season with their team and now I think Jim (Buboltz, MVL head coach) has them playing good football."
Lux said that the turnaround by the Chargers after three opening losses to rattle off three wins is good coaching.
"They have a smaller roster than they used to have but I am sure that their coaching staff felt that if they were patient enough and learn what those players can do that they would find success," said Lux.
Lux thinks that both teams almost mirror each other in the fact that they like to establish the running game and control the clock.
"Their misdirection offense will be a test for our linebackers to get their reads," he said. "MVL has gone to a different kind of offense than they have had in the past - their misdirection is trying to catch you in the wrong spots, so it will be our linebackers who will have to be the most patient. We like where our football team is now and everything is setting up for a good football game."
MVL enters the game with momentum with that three-game wining streak including a big road win last week at Springfield.
"This is always a fun game for your kids to play in and play hard," said Chargers' coach Jim Buboltz. "There is always a big crowd and a lot of good stuff about what high school football should be."
While Buboltz's team is playing well, he thinks that the Greyhounds are playing their best football right now.
Buboltz said that Cathedral has good speed and very tough-nosed on the defensive side of the ball."
He agrees that both teams are going to try to run the ball. But he thinks that Cathedral is more skilled in the misdirection that they are running.
"They have been running it for a while and you can tell that their kids are very good at it," Buboltz said. "I am amazed that year after year of just how well those kids know that offense. Between the speed of their backs and the speed of their pulling linemen, they are a well-oiled machine. They are playing some real good football right now."
While Buboltz knows that the Greyhounds will use their running game, he does not overlook Cathedral's passing attack.
"I think that their passing game is under-estimated by a lot of people," Buboltz said. " I am not one of those people who under-estimates their passing game. We are going to work on our pass coverage just as tough as we would any other week. Like a lot of teams, they do want to establish the ground game but that passing game can really be formidable."
He is concerned about the quality depth in the offensive backfield that the Greyhounds can display.
"They are loaded in the backfield - Austin Cooper is running the ball very well and they can just bring backs at you one after another in [Gabe] Knowles to [Jacob] Gangelhoff to [Michael] Skillings and others - they just keep coming at you with that talent. There is not one person in their backfield that you can say that he is the one we have to stop."
Buboltz also looks to the play of both team's offensive and defensive lines as a key.
"Who can maintain the drives and take care of the ball will tell the story as well as special teams," he said.
Because of a game on "Zero Week" New Ulm High School is off until Wednesday, Oct. 16th.