Gaels head to Pocahontas Area
POCAHONTAS – After opening district play with a bang a week ago, the St. Edmond football team will look to stay on a roll tonight.
The unbeaten Gaels (3-0 overall, 1-0 in Class 1A, District 2) will battle Pocahontas Area.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Last Friday, SEHS found paydirt early and often in a 41-0 home shutout of Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto.
T.J. O’Tool, a sophomore, rushed for a career-high 129 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries in his first offensive action of the year, while senior Vinnie Harvey produced 66 yards and three scores on 10 attempts. Michael Faiferlick added 71 yards on only six totes.
“I suppose our biggest surprise last week was the performance of O’Tool, who has been a real find for us,” said Gael head coach Dick Tighe. “I’m really gaining a lot of confidence in him, and he’s a good companion to Vinnie. (O’Tool) makes tough yards after contact and has enough speed to break loose for long runs, which he did two or three times last game.”
On the year, the fullback Harvey has collected 314 yards and reached the endzone eight times. Faiferlick is next in line with 148 yards, while senior Hank Crimmins has managed 109 yards.
Despite limited opportunities, junior quarterback Matthew Bocken has also went 5-for-10 passing for 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns – all going to classmate Landon Peed.
“We’re real pleased with where we’re at right now, and I told our kids, we have as good of a chance as anybody to win the darn (district),” Tighe said. “We just need to clean up some little mistakes here and there and take things a week at a time.”
SEHS, which received 21 votes in the latest 1A poll, has forced six turnovers this season – four fumble recoveries and two interceptions. The Gaels are allowing just 9.7 points per game.
“I thought we played better on defense against a big and scary looking Maple Valley team, and our guys were gang tackling,” said Tighe. “We’re inexperienced and still have a long way to go, but we’re making progress.”
Senior tight end Robby Burke (pneumonia) is expected to return to St. Edmond’s lineup this evening. Faiferlick is also probable after suffering a sprained knee in practice on Tuesday.
Looking to discover their winning form, the Indians (0-3, 0-1) are coming off a 35-7 setback at Sioux Central. Sophomore Tyler Case has sparked Pocahontas Area with 169 yards and three scores on the ground, while senior Draven Barth has netted 139 yards. Aaron Aljets, a junior, has gone 15 of 23 through the air for 175 yards, with a touchdown and pick. Barth, who ran for 1,059 yards last season, is the top receiver, hauling in four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.
“Being healthy would be a good thing, but probably more importantly, we’ve got to improve our technique defensively,” Pocahontas Area head coach Roger Sommerlot said. “We just have to find a way to move and keep the football. We must get better at the field position game, including our kicking game.”
Sophomore Danny Sommerlot and junior Mitch Brinkman anchor the Indian defensive unit with 31 and 30 stops, respectively. Juniors Jacob Kopriva and Tanner Anderson have each recovered fumbles.
“I guess (Pocahontas Area) is similar to us in terms of their offense,” said Tighe. “They’re not as big as the last team we faced, but Coach Sommerlot always has them playing hard.”
A year ago, the Gaels blanked the Indians in a 48-0 decision. Pocahontas Area’s last win over St. Edmond came in 2001 by a 42-7 final.