Gaels host MC Newman

Next Friday night, the third-ranked (Class 1A) St. Edmond football team opens district play at No. 8 Manson Northwest Webster in a pivotal early-season clash.

Before that, though, the Gaels must turn back upset-minded Mason City Newman tonight inside Dodger Stadium.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

St. Edmond (1-0 overall) earned a 14-7 victory over Bishop Garrigan a week ago, as Tate O’Tool ran for 188 yards and scored two touchdowns. The win marked the eighth in a row in the series, which dates back to 1959.

“We haven’t even talked about the Manson Northwest Webster game because we have to worry about getting better ourselves,” SEHS head coach Dick Tighe said. “We are nowhere near where we need to be to compete with the best out there right now.”

Newman (0-1) dropped a 27-0 decision to sixth-ranked (1A) St. Ansgar last week to open its season. The Knights surrendered 334 yards on the ground and committed two turnovers.

“I hope to see us come out and take control of the game right away,” Tighe said. “We need to set a standard, set a tone and play to a higher standard.”

Last year, the Gaels rallied for a 27-20 victory in Mason City as Vinnie Harvey scored three touchdowns and ran for 123 yards. Matthew Bocken was a perfect 3-for-3 passing for 97 yards, including a TD strike to Landon Peed.

Bocken was effective when he needed to be in the opener, completing a pair of 21-yard passes to Peed and Robert Flattery.

The Gael defense also held the Golden Bears to just 143 yards of total offense.

“We had a pretty chopped up week of practice with the holiday and a junior varsity game this week,” Tighe said. “But the kids responded well on Wednesday and we’ll be ready to go.”

The Knights graduated their starting quarterback and top running back from a year ago when they went 4-6.

Mike Dirksen is in his 31st season at control of the program and is leaning on returning letterwinners Ruiz Detrick, Tim Smith, Joey Verstegen, Kaden Wadle, Brenden Weber and Spencer Wihlm.

Mason City Newman was held to just 27 yards rushing on 27 carries, while Verstegen started at quarterback and completed just two passes for nine yards.

The Cougars (1-0) face Panorama in Panora tonight. In the second round of the playoffs last year, St. Edmond rallied for a 14-6 victory, as they eventually finished second to Iowa City Regina.