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Gaels close with St. Edmond

October 19, 2012
Messenger News

The sixth-ranked (Class 1A) St. Edmond football team will conclude their regular season tonight vs. Eagle Grove.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium.

The Gaels (7-1 overall) have completed their 1A, District 2 schedule, as this meeting with the Eagles (0-8) will be a non-district affair.

St. Edmond currently sits in second behind No. 4 IKM-Manning, who defeated the Gaels earlier this year. IKM (8-0, 5-0) finishes its season vs. Ridge View (4-4, 3-2).

As far as the postseason goes, St. Edmond has already secured another berth for legendary head coach Dick Tighe. They will likely host either Hull Western Christian or South O'Brien in the substate opener next Wednesday.

"We haven't hit as much this past week in practice, mostly because we are a little banged up," Tighe, who owns 398 career wins and has qualified for state 21 times now. "I feel like we should be able to move the ball against (Eagle Grove), but we might also give up some points just because they are pretty quick."

Since a 7-6 loss to IKM, the Gaels have posted wins over Manson Northwest Webster (21-7) and Sioux Central (36-8). The Gaels are averaging 33.5 points per game, led by the running of senior Alex Mericle.

Mericle, who continues to battle a foot injury, has 1,367 yards on the ground and 21 touchdowns. He moved into seventh on the school's all-time rushing charts last week, and sits just 10 yards behind Patrick Flattery for sixth.

Mericle's season total to date is the third-most by a St. Edmond player, and trails only Neil Flattery's record-setting performance from a year ago (1,618) and Rick McCarville's previous school-best (1,472) from 1983.

"Alex is still a little banged up, but that's been the case for the past couple of games," Tighe said. "He's a gamer, though, and he'll be ready to go."

Vinnie Harvey (437 yards rushing, 4 TDs), Aaron McElroy (209) and Matt Stumpf (192) all provide strong balance to the vaunted Gael rushing attack.

McElroy did suffer a twisted ankle near the end of practice on Wednesday of this week and his status is doubtful.

Defensively, St. Edmond is allowing just under eight points per game, and has not allowed more than 20 in any one contest. Teddie Harvey anchors the unit with 125 tackles, while Mericle has recorded 84.

St. Edmond has 21 takeaways this year, including three interceptions by both Landon Peed and Stumpf.

The Eagles will be looking to spoil another strong season for St. Edmond. They have faced two other ranked teams this year, falling to No. 2 Dike-New Hartford (56-0) and fifth-rated Aplington-Parkersburg (62-16).

Senior Brandon Johnson has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season, rushing for 1,089 yards on 126 carries with 18 touchdowns. He also has 294 yards passing and another 28 yards receiving.

"Johnson is a very dangerous player and we will have to make sure we know where he is at on every play," Tighe said. "(Eagle Grove) is pretty young and small, but they have scored some points this year.

"We have to be ready and have to play hard; we need to come out much quicker than we did (last Friday vs. Sioux Central)."

Brenton Pohlman and Oscar Hernandez have over 100 tackles, with Pohlman registering 120 and Hernandez another 113. The Eagle Grove defense has just five takeaways on the year.

Game notes: With a win, the Gaels will earn their fifth season of at least eight victories. ... St. Edmond has reached the postseason six times since 2004, winning 66 games during that span. ... Eagle Grove qualified for the playoffs last year, falling to Aplington-Parkersburg in the substate opener. ... Johnson has rushed for 2,414 yards in his Eagle career, including two 1,000-yard seasons.



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