Gaels head to old NCC rival Eagle Grove for Week 1
EAGLE GROVE — For the variables in play this season, the St. Edmond football team has a familiar opponent for Week 1.
The Gaels take on former North Central Conference rival Eagle Grove to begin the 2020 campaign.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. here Friday night.
Matt Dillon enters his third season as the St. Edmond (0-0 overall) head coach following a 2-7 year. The Gaels are 5-13 under Dillon overall and are searching for their first winning season since 2015.
“We are ready,” Dillon said. “As ready as we can be in COVID times.”
Last year, Sean Flattery ran for 145 yards and scored four touchdowns as St. Edmond won 40-8 here over the Eagles (0-0). He also recovered a fumble and recorded 6.5 tackles on defense.
Flattery is just one of a handful of returning seniors set to start on both sides of the ball for the Gaels who also boast experienced players like Drew Schaeffer, Parker Oswald, Kase Baker, Brock Stanek, Peyton Scott, Thornton Aljets and Nathan Russell.
Baker also ran for 97 yards and scored twice in the win over Eagle Grove, adding a pair of receptions and 18 yards in the passing game. St. Edmond forced five turnovers, recovering four fumbles and a Baker interception.
“It’s nice to be opening with an opponent we are familiar with after playing Panorama in Week 1 last year,” Dillon said. “Of course, it’s a new coach and a new system, but still in these uncertain times, having some known pieces is nice.”
Schaeffer finished last season with 734 yards passing and seven TDs despite missing time with an injury. Flattery ran for 486 yards and Baker had 476 yards on the ground and 290 in the air with eight total scores.
Oswald caught a team-high 23 passes for 278 yards and two TDs.
The Gaels will be working out of a revamped defense under new coordinator Mark McDermott. Oswald, Flattery, Rossmanith, Stanek and Caleb Schaeffer all had over 30 tackles a year ago. Baker led the unit with four picks and Flattery recovered two fumbles.
Eagle Grove’s lone TD vs. the Gaels last year came from Tate Richardson, a returning starter for first-year head coach Logan Willard. The EGHS graduate takes over for Paul Hansch and is looking to snap a 19-game losing skid.
“We are a very quick team and have some athletic guys who are working hard,” Willard said. “But we are starting over from ground zero. We’re very young and looking to rebuild the program.”
From 2007-11, the Eagles won 36 games including a pair of nine-win seasons. They have just 10 total victories since.
Jake Darland is back at quarterback for his senior season after throwing for 309 yards and running for another 130. Roberto Calles, a junior, led the team with 353 yards on the ground a year ago and wide receiver Nick Huntley is back after catching 13 passes for 267 yards.
Darland, Huntley, Calles are among the leaders anchoring the defense.