The fourth-ranked (Class 1A) St. Edmond football team will make their 2012 home debut this evening vs. No. 8 (A) Mason City Newman.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium.
The Gaels (1-0 overall) had little trouble a week ago, scoring a commanding 33-0 victory over Bishop Garrigan to start the year off on the right foot.
Senior Alex Mericle filled in nicely for the departed Neil Flattery, running for 187 of St. Edmond's nearly 400 yards on the ground. Junior Vinnie Harvey also eclipsed the century mark, while Aaron McElroy added 85 yards on just eight carries.
"We were able to pass our first test (against Garrigan), and this one is going to be another big one," said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who earned his career victory 392 last week. "Our non-district games this year are great building blocks for our kids because we are playing two strong teams that generally make the playoffs."
Like the majority of the entire state, the Gaels have had to endure the heat during practices this week. Tighe cut short several sessions, opting to keep his players out of the sun and well-rested ahead of tonight.
WT: Matt Remsburg, 215, sr.
WG: Teddie Harvey, 165, jr.
C: Hank Crimmins, 175, jr.
SG: Dillon Nelson, 195, sr.
ST: Jacob Salisbury, 220, sr.
SE: Landon Peed, 165, so.
TE: Hank Lentsch, 175, sr.
WB: Aaron McElroy, 165, sr.
FB: Vinnie Harvey, 225, jr.
HB: Alex Mericle, 195, sr.
QB: David Flattery, 175, sr.
DE: V. Harvey
DT: Jimmy Averill, 175, jr.
LB: T. Harvey
CB: Matt Stumpf, 160, sr.
"We've taken a lot of breaks, and limited the amount of contact between the kids," Tighe said. "It's been an interesting week with all the schedule changes, but I think the kids have done a great job of staying focused."
St. Edmond's defense limited Garrigan to just 214 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers.
"We were able to get through the first game with no injuries, so that was a great sign," Tighe said. "We don't have a lot of depth, so keeping everybody healthy is a big priority."
The Knights (0-1) had trouble in Week 1, as No. 6 (1A) St. Ansgar rolled to a 33-13 victory behind a 337-yard rushing performance. The Saints are defending champions in Class A.
"We don't have the same kind of breakaway threat that (St. Ansgar) features, but we are going to try and run the ball, I can tell you that much," Tighe said. "We're pretty similar in terms of size, so it should be about who wants it more."
Joe Burgmeier was the leading rusher for Newman, racking up 111 yards on 22 carries. The junior ran for 1,541 yards and 25 scores as a 10th-grader.
Quarterback Trevor Callahan threw nearly as many interceptions - two - as completions - three - but he did connect with Spencer Schmidt on a 78-yard touchdown strike.
A year ago, the Knights advanced to the state semifinals in their fifth consecutive playoff appearance before bowing out against eventual state champion Lisbon. They return six starters from that team and 14 letterwinners in all.
Headlining the defensive unit for long-time head coach Mike Dirksen are seniors Kane Louscher and John Waters, who each recorded over 100 tackles last season. Dirksen has won 201 games in 31 seasons, including 195 at Newman.
"This could possibly be our toughest game of the year, as I we don't know much about our district outside of a few teams we've played in the past," Tighe said. "Newman has built a very strong tradition over the past few years, and I expect nothing short of a physical contest."
St. Edmond last played the Knights in 2009, with Newman picking up a 16-13 victory in Mason City. The Gaels defeated the Knights in '08 by a final of 41-6, as Brian Sandvig ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns.