Gaels search for road win

SIOUX RAPIDS – Friday’s Class A, District 2 contest between St. Edmond and Sioux Central here will have zero implications on the postseason.

Instead, the Gaels and Rebels are competing for two things: pride and momentum.

Kickoff tonight is set for 7 p.m.

For the seniors hitting the field, this marks the second-to-last chance to strap on the helmets and knock heads. The underclassmen want to gain confidence and begin building towards next year with a strong showing to conclude the season.

That’s what St. Edmond (1-6 overall, 0-5 in district) head coach Dick Tighe is thinking about right now. Stuck in a five-game losing streak, Tighe wants to see his green group take that next step before the chapter is closed on the 2016 campaign.

With just four seniors in all on the roster, Tighe knew the learning curve would be a steep one. He’s had to rotate in players all over the field due to injuries and inexperience, but what has come about over the last couple of weeks has given the veteran coach reason to be excited for next year.

“Three of our four seniors are now done for the year with injuries in Charlie Doyle, Connor Allison and Tyler McCarville,” Tighe said. “We’ve had to move so many kids around to try and fill-in that it’s hard to figure out where everybody is going to line up.

“But the kids, especially the freshmen, have done a great job of taking whatever task we hand them and giving it their all.”

Sophomore quarterback Andrew Gibb had his best game to date in a 22-12 setback to North Union last week, completing 5 of 9 for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his scores went to junior Will Woodruff, while freshman Charlie Shelly finished with 79 yards of total offense.

“We really had a nice passing attack last week,” Tighe said. “That’s something we want to continue working on because it should be a strong point to our offense moving forward over the next year or so.”

The defensive side of the ball features junior Jack Rasmussen, who leads the entire state in tackles with 101.5. Rasmussen, who has been battling an injury for the past several games, made 24 stops a week ago, including 13 solos.

Junior Cade Naughton has started at tailback, fullback and wingback on offense, racking up 422 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also settled in along the defensive line, recording 32 tackles. Junior Sean Flaherty is another key two-way starter, along with 10th-grader Sean Newell, sophomore Peyton Spangler and freshman Jackson Bemrich.

Logan Fear, one of those seniors, has over 300 yards and a team-best is six rushing touchdowns, while also making 28.5 tackles. Fear missed a handful of games due to an injury earlier in the year.

Injuries have hit Sioux Central (3-4, 2-3) hard recently, as the Rebels have lost top running backs Brady Rusk and Mac Prior. Rusk had 843 yards and nine touchdowns, while Prior had 635 and eight.

Neither, though, played last week in a 12-3 loss to Hartley-HMS. Sophomore Ben Hargens did run for 129 yards on 31 carries, but Sioux Central had just 37 yards from the rest of its team. Rusk last played two weeks ago vs. Ridge View, while Prior has been out since Week 5.

Hargens does already have two 100-yard rushing games to his credit.

“They are in much the same boat as we are with injuries and inexperience,” Tighe said. “We’ve just got to get out there and compete with what we have.”

Matt Saunders has completed just 6 of 21 passes for 132 yards, as he took over three weeks ago under center after Caleb Gunderson went down.

Game notes: Rasmussen’s 101.5 tackles are almost 20 better than North Union’s Eythan Blair for the district lead. … Fear is tied for fifth in the district with six touchdowns. … This is the first time the Gaels have had a five-game losing streak under Tighe. … The Rebels, who went 4-5 a year ago, have alternated wins and losses all season. That includes a 24-14 defeat in Week 1 to Manson Northwest Webster, the only team St. Edmond has bested this year. … Despite being injured, Rusk and Prior still rank third and fourth in the district in rushing yards. … Rusk and Prior also had five interceptions. … Dallas Scott has made the only field goal among kicks in the league this year, connecting from 25 yards out.