The Verndale Pirates football team hopes to return to the win column this week following a 12-6 loss to Chokio-Alberta-Herman-Norcross Friday.
The Pirates' offense was stymied by the Spartans' defense as Verndale gained just 121 total yards. Only 75 of those came on the ground. This came a week after Verndale rushed for 231 yards and had 317 total yards against Hancock.
This Friday at 2 p.m., Verndale hosts Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, which comes into the contest at 1-2. Hillcrest won last week 22-6 against Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley. The Comets' only loss was against Chokio 31-6 Sept. 7.
Verndale head coach Mike Mahlen said in order for Verndale to get back to its winning ways the Pirates don't have to change much.
"Watching the film after the game, I thought we played really well against Chokio," he said. "We were just beaten by a better team.
"We got outsized pretty bad in some situations and they broke one big play and we didn't. I guess the whole team stepped up last week and I believe they will again this week."
The game Friday will be a rematch of last year's Section 4 championship game in which Verndale beat the Comets 39-20 to advance to the Nine-Man state tournament. The Pirates also beat Hillcrest in the regular season 30-26.
Verndale will need a good defensive effort against the Comets, especially from their secondary.
"The score will probably be dependent on the weather," said Mahlen. "You just don't know, but if the weather is good, you could expect it to be a high-scoring game.
"I think they throw ball this year as much as they ever have. The second week of the season we saw Hancock throw 53 times against us so we've seen a little bit of passing.
"We have to stop Luke Hanson. They throw it up to him and he'll go up and get a lot of, what many would think, are uncatchable balls. You have to put the clamps on him."
Despite last week's loss, Mahlen was pleased with the way his defense played. He said the Spartans' size was too much for a small Verndale team.
The Pine River-Backus Tigers volleyball team graduated two seasoned veterans in Sarah Laposky and Whitney Rollins and lost Brooke Rollins, who transferred to Brainerd, but the Tigers keep winning.
PR-B hopes to continue winning when it hosts the 5-3 Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines tonight at 7:30.
Against W-DC, the Tigers will face a formidable team that features great talent in Kerby Johnson, Missy Speed, Sarah Kneisl and Marissa Browne. Johnson and Browne were on the varsity when they were freshmen. Speed and Kneisl joined them on the varsity as sophomores.
W-DC plays seven seniors, a group that has been together since elementary school playing volleyball and basketball. They need to use their continuity against a solid Tiger team.
"They're going to play defense well," said W-DC coach Sue Volkman. "They don't make a lot of mistakes because they're fundamentally sound.
"We have to put the ball away when we get the opportunities. We're not real big so we're trying to work on some blocking schemes."
On Thursday, PR-B travels south to take on rival Pequot Lakes (2-11) for a 7:30 p.m. game. Tigers coach Tom Lupella realizes that anytime his team faces the Patriots it will be a battle. Look for the Tigers to key on Julie Redebaugh and setter Jackie Heslop.
PR-B will need Meg Tabaka to continue her solid play. The senior finished with 14 kills, two blocks and three ace serves in a 3-0 win over Crosby-Ironton Sept. 11. Carollie Christensen finished with 19 set assists against C-I and she'll need to continue her solid passing.
One player she will be passing to is Leah Wangberg, who will need to provide an offensive spark as well as try to contain the opposition's big hitters.
W-DC travels to Detroit Lakes for a Mid-State Conference game 7:30 p.m. Thursday before heading to the Bagley tournament Saturday. Pequot Lakes heads to Cass Lake-Bena tonight for a 7:30 game.
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