No. 1 Heelan comes to town for Homecoming
Over the past few years, Estherville Lincoln Central football teams have a tradition of playing well at homecoming.
“We know what our job is-it’s to play football,” said ELC coach Jerry Shultz.
The Midgets will definitely need to be at their best as top-ranked Bishop Heelan comes to town tonight.
The Crusaders return 20 letterwinners from their 2007 state runner-up team which make the expectations just as high this season.
“The expectations don’t change at Heelan,” said Heelan coach Roger Jansen.
The Crusaders already have a key victory this season beating No. 2 Harlan 28-13 in a non-district meeting in Week 2.
“Harlan is always a premier team. To play them and to beat them is a good gauge of where we’re at,” he said.
Last week, Bishop Heelan opened district play with a 34-0. The Crusaders had two early turnovers that kept them scoreless in the first quarter, but managed to cross the goal line twice in the second quarter to lead 14-0 at the break.
“It was homecoming week and there were a lot of distractions,” said Jansen. “When we went in at half, I told them they’re better than that and challenged them. They responded in the second half.”
Looking ahead to tonight, this will be Jansen’s first trip to Estherville.
“I’m looking forward to coming up there and I expect a good game,” he said.
Of the Midgets, Jansen said knows of their tradition.
“I saw them in the playoffs against Central Lyon,” he said. “Central Lyon is like Harlan-a gauge for where you’re at.”
Looking at the tape this week, he said the Midgets appear to be a physical team
“Traditionally, we’ve had a harder time with the physical teams,” he said.
Offensive keys for his team this week are to take care of the ball better.
“We had two turnovers in the first quarter last week and a dozen penalties,” he said. “We need to clean that up.”
Defensively, the Crusaders will try to stop the run first.
“The tailback (Jordan Eggers) is pretty good. He’ physical and snaky fast. I know they’ll try to run.”
Jansen said it doesn’t matter who his team plays, the goal is to stop the run first.
Coach Shultz said that’s what the Midgets will try to do-run the ball that is.
“We can’t have three-and-outs,” he said. “We need the nice long drives to keep them off the field. They have big play capability, so we want to try to control the ball as much as possible.”
The big capability almost can be summed up in one player, tailback Brandon Wegher.
Wegher has 820 yards rushing in three games and an average of over 10 yards per carry.
Shultz said that while one key is to stop Wegher, the Crusaders have more weapons.
“They’re solid all around and don’t have any weak points,” he said. “They feature Wegher, but they’re stacked up down the lineup. They can throw too.”
The Crusaders are just as solid on the other side of the ball.
“They have big, strong athletic kids who run to the ball well,” Shultz said.
Last week, ELC struggled to move the football.
Two keys for the Midgets are to move the chains and defensively, to make the tackles.
“The big key is how we bounce back after a tough loss,” said Shultz. “We need to play our best game of the year to stay with someone like this.”