St. Edmond heads to Marcus-MMC

MARCUS – Dick Tighe has made stops at just about every high school around the state of Iowa in his 62-plus years as a head football coach.

Tonight, though, marks his first trip here, as St. Edmond opens Class A, District 2 play vs. MMCRU.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Last year, Marcus-MMC claimed the 8-man state title for the second time in four seasons. But after adding Remsen-Union to Marcus, Meridian and Cleghorn, they were bumped up to 11-man football.

Tighe decided to get an early look at the field his Gaels (1-1 overall, 0-0 in district) would be visiting during a summer road trip through Sioux City.

“I wasn’t even really sure which town they played in,” said Tighe, who earned career win No. 431 last week and became St. Edmond’s leader in that category at the same time. “So when the wife and I were coming back (to Webster City), we took a little detour through Marcus and see where we would be playing.

“I’m excited to play some of these different teams. It’s hard because we don’t know an awful lot about them, but they don’t know a lot about us either.”

St. Edmond closed out its non-district schedule with a 21-13 victory over rival Manson Northwest Webster at Dodger Stadium last Friday night. The win came at a cost, as two-way starter Logan Fear went down with an injury.

While the senior avoided suffering any broken bones, he is expected to be sidelined for a few weeks.

“It’s bruised, but the bigger issue is there is some nerve damage,” Tighe said. “He’s in a sling and will be for at least two more weeks.”

Cade Naughton, a junior who ran for 100 yards and a score vs. the Cougars, will be tasked with replacing Fear’s carries. Sophomore Peyton Spangler, who saw his most extensive varsity action a week ago, and freshman Charlie Shelly are also slated for carries.

Shelly, who also starts in the secondary, was knocked from the Manson NW game with concussion-like symptoms. His playing time will be limited if he suits up.

Tighe, never one to worry about getting the passing game going, knows that is something that has to change moving forward if the Gaels are planning on competing for a district title. Through two games, SEHS has yet to complete a pass, allowing defenses to stack the box to take away the run game.

To shake things up, Tighe will insert sophomore Elijah Litwiller in at quarterback. During the preseason, Litwiller and Andrew Gibb battled for the starting job.

“Elijah gives us a little more mobility from the position,” Tighe said. “He really pushed Andrew during the preseason, but he just needs more reps to get familiar with the offense.”

Junior’s Will Woodruff and Jack Rasmussen helped pick up the pieces on the defensive side of the ball after Fear was knocked out. Woodruff has 19 tackles on the year and Rasmussen 18.

“Our defense has been outstanding, especially in the second half (vs. Manson NW),” Tighe said. “Coach (Pat) Schomberg really has everybody playing in the right positions and doing their jobs.”

MMCRU head coach Kyle Oswald has been with the program since 2012, going 47-5 over four years, including double-digit win totals each season. The Royals advanced to the UNI-Dome three of the four years under Oswald, a graduate of Wayne State College.

The adjustment to 11-man has been troubling for MMCRU, which also had to replace all-state quarterback Ben Specht. They lost in Week 1 to LeMars Gehlen, 14-8, and fell 53-14 to Westwood last week.

“It’s been a pretty rough transition for them,” Tighe said. “And I think they have a few guys out with injuries. But we aren’t going in just expecting them to give us the game; we’ll have to earn it.”

Junior Tristen Olson has been tasked with replacing Specht. He’s thrown for 124 yards and a touchdown this year, while Tyler Brimm leads the Royal rushing attack with 52 yards.

Connor Sand is the top receiver for Olson, hauling in three passes for 74 yards.

Through two games, MMCRU has just 33 yards rushing as a team.

Game notes: To date, St. Edmond has forced just three turnovers on the year, recovering two fumbles and picking off a pass. … In his first season as a punter, Woodruff is averaging 36 yards on five punts. … Woodruff and Rasmussen are the third and fifth leading tacklers in the district. … Tighe passed Bill Kibby for wins at St. Edmond with 111 last week. … MMCRU’s first state title in 2012 also marked the first year they played 8-man football, defeating Don Bosco to go 14-0. They claimed a 57-52 victory over Don Bosco in the state finals last year, finishing 13-0. … Three of MMCRU’s losses under Oswald prior to this season came to West Bend-Mallard (twice) and Newell-Fonda. … Last year, the Royals had 5,217 yards of total offense and scored 89 touchdowns, averaging 7.4 yards per play.