Gaels at home vs. South O’Brien

For the first time since 2013, the St. Edmond football team meets South O’Brien.

Kickoff in Friday’s Class A, District 2 contest is set for 7 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium.

Three years ago, the Gaels (1-2 overall, 0-1 in league) picked up a 42-3 victory over the Wolverines (1-2, 1-0) in a playoff quarterfinal on their way to finishing second in 1A. Only senior co-captains Logan Fear and Charlie Doyle were on the roster that night for Dick Tighe’s squad, though.

Fear remains sidelined with an injury for at least another week, while Doyle is also banged up. Doyle, a two-way starter along the offensive and defensive lines, is expected to be ready to go.

Mistakes cost St. Edmond its league opener vs. MMCRU last Friday night on the road, as the Royals took advantage of four fumbles and seven penalties to claim a 15-8 decision.

“We just couldn’t keep from turning the ball over,” Tighe said. “And I haven’t really seen us really put together a solid offensive drive. Hopefully, getting (Charlie Shelly) back will allow us to have a little more speed on the field.”

Junior Cade Naughton recorded his second consecutive 100-yard rushing performance, racking up 163 yards on 30 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown. Naughton, who has shifted between fullback and tailback, leads the Gaels with 303 yards on 61 carries.

Naughton will settle in at fullback with Shelly, a freshman, returning from an injury suffered two weeks ago.

“Cade has just been an incredible player for us,” Tighe said. “He’s gotten pressure from his defensive tackle position and he’s shouldered the offensive load with Logan out.”

Jack Rasmussen and Will Woodruff spearhead a St. Edmond defense that is allowing just 17 points per game. Rasmussen has 33.5 tackles on the year, while Woodruff has 25.

The Gaels, though, have forced just four turnovers, a number that has typically been much higher in years past.

“We’ve got to come up with a big play on defense,” Tighe said. “Our emotion-level has been really down and if we could make something happen on that side of the ball, I think positives would come from it.”

The start of district play was good to the Wolverines, as they scored a 25-7 victory over Hartley-HMS last Friday night. Prior to that, South O’Brien had lost to Woodbury Central (23-0) and Sheldon (28-14).

Senior running back Sam Nelson was the workhorse vs. HMS, carrying the ball 41 times for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Drew Faust added 62 yards on 15 carries, while quarterback Carson Louscher ran in a score.

Nelson has been the lone bright point for South O’Brien offensively this season, rushing 94 times for 366 yards and three TDs. Along with his recent 154-yard performance, he also carried the ball 30 times for 129 yards vs. Sheldon and had 63 yards vs. Woodbury Central.

“They line up in a power-I and just come at you,” Tighe said. “They have good size and speed, and their backfield is pretty solid from what I’ve seen on tape.

“We’ve got to fill our gaps and limit the big plays.”

Louscher has completed 13 of 30 passes for 112 yards with a TD pass and an interception. Faust has 90 yards rushing and three catches for 32 yards, while junior Clayton Leng is the leading receiver with five receptions for 45 yards.

Nelson anchors the defense with 28 tackles, followed by Louscher and Faust. They have forced five turnovers, including a pair of fumble recoveries by Nelson.

Game notes: St. Edmond has gone 24-2 over the last five seasons inside Dodger Stadium. … Rasmussen is tied for the district lead in tackles, while Woodruff is tied for fourth. … Tighe is now the school’s all-time leader in coaching wins with 111, one ahead of Bill Kibby. … In the 2013 meeting between these two, Tate O’Tool ran for 264 yards and Vinnie Harvey 192 to lead the Gaels to victory. … The combined record of South O’Brien’s three previous opponents is 4-5, including three wins by Sheldon. … The Wolverines went 3-6 a season ago, including a 33-12 win over Sheldon and a one-point victory vs. HMS. … Nelson is third in the district in rushing yards, first in attempts and third in tackles. … Nelson was one of 10 freshmen who suited up in the meeting three years ago.