The Central Lakes College Raiders are 6-1 and head into Saturday’s regular-season finale against Ridgewater in Willmar with an opportunity to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Southern Division of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference with a win.
“We’ve got a great rivalry with Ridgewater, and we have a traveling trophy that they’re currently holding onto that we want to get back,” Raiders head coach Greg Medeck said. “We want our guys to be playing their best in that game.”
That might not be a tall order. Several Raider players have been standouts the entire season.
Quarterback Andrew Johnson is second in the division in passing yards (1,068) and has thrown eight touchdown passes.
“He’s right there, and has been fairly consistent for us,” Medeck said.
Another player who has been consistent for the Raiders is running back Beau Bellmore, who leads the division in rushing attempts (158) and yards (703), and has found the end zone seven times.
“Beau is a tremendous runner, he’s leading us on the ground,” said Medeck. “He’s a steady, hard-working kid.”
Anthony Shelman has been the leader of the Raiders’ receiving corps and Johnson’s favorite target, scoring four times with 381 yards.
The offensive side of the ball shouldn’t get all the credit for the Raiders’ success. Jordan Bialke leads a Raiders defense that has allowed a division-best 220 yards on the ground. Mario Lambright, Jared Hoemberg and Matt Mogere each have three interceptions, and Bialke has registered 48 tackles and two picks, which has contributed to the defensive success.
“Our defense has been playing well, and has obviously been a strong point for us all year,” Medeck said.
The Raiders haven’t been satisfied with just success on offense and defense. Their special teams play has also shined. Punter Paul Lake is second in the division in yards per punt (34.2). Shelman has been steady as the team’s primary kick returner, averaging 18.5 yards per return.
Saturday’s game, though, will provide a test for a Raiders team coming off a 53-7 rout of Vermilion in Week 7. CLC will play a 5-2 Ridgewater team that boasts one of the division’s best ground games. Martell Baker has gained 599 yards with a division-leading eight touchdowns and 5.3-yard average per carry.
“Ridgewater’s focus is on the ground game,” Medeck said. “Our defense has only allowed an average of 30 rushing yards per game though.”
When asked why there is so much emphasis to end the regular season with a win, Medeck’s response was simple: “For a variety of reasons,” he said. “With a win, we’ll host a playoff game (Oct. 20), and we’ve shown to be a strong home team.” The Raiders are undefeated at home this year.
Summarizing the general feeling of the Raiders as the playoffs approach, and why they’ve been successful, was easy for starting right guard Luke Landecker.
“Our success has come from how close we’ve grown as one whole unit, on and off the field,” the sophomore said. “Our defense has been playing lights-out and our offense has been consistent in putting points on the board. Ridgewater is a good team, but they are beatable. It should be a great game.”