MASON CITY - More consistency in all phases of the game is a top priority for the St. Edmond football team tonight.
Facing their first road test of the season, the Gaels (1-0 overall) will battle 10th-ranked (Class A) Mason City Newman (0-1).
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
In its 2013 opener a week ago, SEHS narrowly escaped with a 14-9 home victory over longtime rival Bishop Garrigan. Against the Golden Bears, the Gaels were actually outgained in both total yardage (224-217) and first downs (15-14), while also coughing up a pair of fumbles and committing seven penalties for 70 yards.
"I was not very pleased at all with our performance last week," said St. Edmond head coach Dick Tighe, who owns an Iowa best 401 career wins in 60 years on the sidelines, which places him 11th all-time nationally. "We had all the momentum, but then we just kind of gassed out and got sloppy when Garrigan seemed to get stronger. We have a lot of inexperienced guys along the line that need to get better, so hopefully they can make a big jump."
Vinnie Harvey, a 225-pound senior fullback, served as the workhorse in the punishing SEHS ground assault Friday, accounting for 125 yards and a pair of scores on 24 carries. Harvey reached the endzone from 19 and 4 yards out, respectively, in the first half.
Hank Crimmins, another senior, delivered 63 yards rushing on 14 attempts. Junior quarterback Matthew Bocken also went 1-for-5 passing, including a 13-yard hookup with classmate Landon Peed.
"I think the (near 90 degree) heat affected both teams, especially in the second half," Tighe said. "We had a couple of guys get cramps, and so did Garrigan. Give (the Golden Bears) credit, though. Their backs ran hard, and they played us pretty tough."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Gaels forced three takeaways - two fumble recoveries and an interception - in Week 1. Harvey posted a team-high nine tackles and three sacks from his defensive end spot. Caelan Burbank (sack), Nick Hindt (interception), Jimmy Averill (fumble recovery) and Chad Remsburg (fumble recovery) were the other standout performers.
"Defensively, I felt we were real spotty, too," said Tighe. "We have about four hitters on our team, but the rest of our guys still do a lot of reaching when they tackle, which is not good."
The Knights are looking to rebound after suffering a hard-fought 13-6 road setback to St. Ansgar, who is now rated 7th in 1A. Newman was held to only 184 combined offensive yards last Friday, including 131 through the air.
"They like to run an unbalanced line (offensively) with a lot of Wing-T stuff like always," Tighe said of the Knights. "The St. Ansgar game could've gone either way. We know (Newman) will be a tough team to beat on their own turf."
Signal-caller Jack Fitzgerald of the Knights completed 7 of 13 passes for 114 yards, with a score and a pick a week ago. Joey Verstegen was Fitzgerald's favorite target, hauling in three catches for 61 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown. All-state senior fullback Joe Burgmeier was limited to just 35 yards on 16 totes.
Averill, a starter at both wingback and middle linebacker, will be sidelined for this evening's contest with a broken thumb.
Under the direction of veteran head coach Mike Dirksen, Newman has qualified for the playoffs 13 times in school history, including six straight years. The Knights, who finished 6-4 in 2012, also earned their fourth-ever 1A state baseball title earlier this summer.
Since the 2000 campaign, St. Edmond has managed a 3-4 record against Newman. Last fall, the Gaels hammered the Knights by a 42-14 final.