Gaels host rival Manson NW
The St. Edmond and Manson Northwest Webster football teams have built quite the rivalry over the years.
Both will end their seasons here Friday night inside Dodger Stadium against each another, with hopes of using the contest as a launching point to next year.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Jeff Anliker, the head coach for the Cougars, has been on both sides of the field, as he previously served in the same role with the Gaels.
“When the schedule came out and we were paired up with St. Edmond in Week 9, I told our kids to be ready for a big game,” Anliker said. “It’s become a huge rivalry game for both teams and regardless of where everybody is at, there is something to play for.
“Plus, with it being the end of the season, we can really use it to build off of for the future.”
This will be Matt Dillon’s first contest vs. MNW, but as the former West Des Moines Dowling head coach knows, these games always have a little more fight to them between the players.
“Big schools, small schools … a rivalry is a rivalry,” Dillon said. “It’s important to the towns, the kids and the schools.
“With how our seasons have gone, this is a great way to finish the year.”
Since posting back-to-back wins over North Union and Eagle Grove, the Gaels (2-6 overall, 0-4 in Class A, District 3) have dropped five in a row. They were bested by Alta/Aurelia last Friday, 50-22.
Sean Newell, one of seven seniors, ran for 141 yards and scored a touchdown last week. He has four games with over 100 yards on the ground this season.
Newell has ran for 765 yards and seven scores on the year, with Sean Flattery adding 504 and five touchdowns. Peyton Spangler has 247 yards and Kase Baker 205, with both hitting the end zone three times each.
Elijah Litwiller has thrown for 224 yards, with Drew Schaeffer recording 12 receptions for 178.
“Manson Northwest Webster has been pulling out some tricks here in the last few weeks,” Dillon said. “We’ll have to be extra careful and watch for those so we don’t give up any big plays.”
Newell also leads the defense, having made 81.5 tackles on the year. Jackson Bemrich has a team-high nine tackles for loss and five sacks, with Nick Lawler, Flattery, Schaeffer and Spangler all recording at least 46.5 tackles.
This will be the final game for Litwiller, Spangler, Newell, Gage Johnson, Jake Rossow, Mason O’Brien and Nick Bennett.
The Cougars (0-8, 0-4) have scored 35 points in their last two games after just 48 in the first six combined. Senior quarterback Derek Girard has thrown for over 100 yards in three consecutive games, entering the night with 791 yards and seven touchdowns.
For his MNW career, Girard has completed 194 passes for 2,508 yards with 20 touchdowns. His top receivers this year have been Dawson Estergaard (17-269), Brayden Johll (20-190) and Riley Peters (17-111).
Peters also leads the Cougar ground game with 217 yards, with Johll adding 186. Peters is unlikely to play due to an injury.
“The kids are excited,” Anliker said. “I’ve been doing this for 22 years now and this is the fourth time I’ve been sitting at 0-8. We’ve always had good kids, but never a group that has kept it together like this one.
“They have gone in every week thinking they have a really good shot at winning, but we’ve had one quarter that has just decided the outcome each time not in our favor.”
Girard is the leading tackler on the squad with 70 stops, as AJ Cardenas has 47.5 tackles including five for loss. Ben Quade has 44, Brian Pearson 30.5 and Zach Siefken 27.5.
Manson NW graduates eight seniors from the roster including Girard, Pearson, Estergaard, Peters, Quade, Siefken, Devin Girard and Cort Jaeschke.
“They started with 14 kids and we’ve got eight still playing and a heck of a senior manager still part of it,” Anliker said. “They are football kids and great leaders, and I just feel horrible for them with the way the season has ended up.
“But to have the kind of fire we’ve had in practice this past week, that speaks volumes to those guys for their leadership.”
MANSON NW (0-8, 0-4)
WR — Dawson Estergaard, sr., 174; T — Zach Siefken, sr., 240; G — Ben Quade, sr., 183; C — Tommy Lawman, jr., 238; G — Zach Popp, jr., 179; T — Connor Christensen, 218, soph.; TE — Lucas Walsh, jr., 168; WB — Brian Pearson, sr., 176; QB — Derek Girard, sr., 166; RB — AJ Cardenas, sr., 150; RB — Brayden Johll, soph., 170; K — Dayton Snell, 179, soph.
DE — Poppe; DT — Siefken; DT — Lawman; DT — Christensen; DE — Austin Anliker, 192, jr.; LB — Cardenas; LB — Quade; LB — Carson Bower, 179, soph.; DB — Girard; DB — Estergaard; DB — Pearson; P — Bower.