MANNING - Looking to stay in the driver's seat for a potential Class 1A, District 2 title, the eighth-ranked St. Edmond football team will hit the road to face IKM-Manning tonight.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Gaels (5-0 overall, 3-0 in the district) are coming off their most impressive performance of the year in a 62-6 Homecoming drubbing of previously unbeaten Ridge View.
Against the Raptors, SEHS compiled a season-high 418 rushing yards. T.J. O'Tool, a sophomore, delivered 181 yards and three touchdowns, while senior Vinnie Harvey managed 88 yards and three scores of his own.
"We played just a wonderful game on Friday," said St. Edmond head coach Dick Tighe, who is seeking his 406th career win this evening. "Anytime you have over 400 yards rushing and zero turnovers or penalties, you're probably going to be successful. Our defense allowed six points right at the very end, but we very easily could've had a (third straight) shutout."
On the year, the workhorse fullback Harvey has accounted for 584 yards and reached paydirt 15 times - which is tied for the lead in 1A - on an even 100 carries.
O'Tool and junior Michael Faiferlick have also combined for 666 yards, while finding the endzone on six occasions. As a unit, the Gaels are currently eighth in 1A in total yards on the ground (1,448).
"O'Tool has been a real find for us," Tighe said. "He played one JV game early in the season at South Hamilton and had about four touchdowns, so we decided to give him a look. He's got all the moves, runs hard and blocks well. We kind of had an excuse to move him in (the varsity lineup) when we needed a tight end that week (Robby) Burke had pneumonia."
Junior quarterback Matthew Bocken of St. Edmond has gone 6 of 16 through the air for 164 yards, with a pair of touchdowns and no picks. Landon Peed has hauled in all six of Bocken's completions for an average of 27.3 yards per catch.
After winning by just a combined 12 points in their first two games, the Gaels have outscored their last three opponents by a whopping margin of 138-6. Defensively, SEHS has forced 15 takeaways this year - 10 fumble recoveries and five interceptions.
"We won't win this week on last week's reputation, so we just have to go down (to Manning) and take care of business," said Tighe. "(The Wolves) are young and only have about three starters back from last year, but they've been in a lot of close ballgames (IKM-Manning's three losses have come by a combined 18 points). I expect them to be more physical than Ridge View, who was more of a finesse team."
Junior Sam Wegner (73 attempts, 440 yards, 5 TD) and sophomore Ridge Muhlbauer (82-370-6) form a reliable 1-2 backfield punch for IKM-Manning (2-3, 0-2), which is hoping to rebound following consecutive setbacks to Manson Northwest Webster (32-23) and Sioux Central (20-14).
"They were ahead of Sioux Central last week 14-0, but then (the Rebels) scored three times in about the last 10 minutes," Tighe said of the Wolves. "I think they're pretty conservative (offensively) and mostly want to run the ball out of the old Wing-T. We need to be aware of where No. 18 (Wegner) is at all times."
Signal-caller Kyle Wagner, a sophomore, has also hit on 16 of 42 passes for 332 yards, including two scores and three picks. Wegner has pulled down a team-high six grabs for 169 yards and a touchdown.
Jacob Thraen of IKM-Manning ranks first among all 1A players in tackles (83), while Cody Eischeid is tied for sixth in stops (77).
Last fall, the Wolves earned the 1A, District 2 crown with a perfect 9-0 regular season. Defending state quarterfinalist IKM-Manning downed St. Edmond by a 7-6 final a year ago.
SEHS will be without the services of starting senior linebacker/wingback Jimmy Averill (concussion) for tonight's contest.