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Armstrong-Ringsted vs. North Sentral Kossuth preview: Rivals ready for rematch

By Staff | Nov 7, 2008

Quarterback Ridge Christiansen follows his blockers on the way to rushing for 274 yards in Monday’s first-round win over Remsen-Union. EDN photo by Alex Ascherl

ARMSTRONG – With the quality teams rivals Armstrong-Ringsted and North Kossuth/North Sentral Kossuth have fielded the last couple years, it’s amazing the two teams haven’t met in the postseason before tonight’s 8-man quarterfinal.

When the Mustangs dropped down to the 8-player game two years ago, North Kossuth handed them their only district loss-a 29-24 Cougar victory.

Last year A-R won 40-18 over NK.

Combining with Sentral this year has evidently given the Eagles more firepower.

This season, NSK won 34-14 on Sept. 25 to up its record to 2-1 against A-R.

“We’re not focusing so much on that first game,” said Zotz. “We are going to learn from our mistakes and not let the (first) outcome determine how we play or intimidate us.”

“Both teams have made a lot of progress in the six weeks since that first game, said NSK coach Troy Adams. “There were a lot of mistakes by both teams in that first game. I don’t think you’ll see that this time.’

Besides the A-R game, the closest contests for the Eagles this season were a 30-25 win over Laurens-Marathon and a 26-12 victory over Graettinger/Terril.

However, the Mustangs have a tendency to play better in a second matchup.

After losing to Northeast Hamilton in the first round of the playoffs in 2006, A-R defeated the 2006 state champions in the 2007 quarterfinal to earn its first trip to the UNI-Dome.

The Mustangs also lost to Ventura during the regular season in 2007, but won handily in the first round playoff game a year ago.

Both coaches expect a good game tonight.

“We have two very good teams,” said Zotz. “It’s too bad both can’t be at the dome. Both deserve it.”

“It should be a very close game for what’s on the line,” said Adams. “Being only nine miles apart, there’s not many secrets and neither team will change a whole lot.”

In Monday’s game against AR-WE-VA-a team A-R beat in overtime in last year’s semifinals-Adams said the key to the Eagles’ 40-13 victory was pass defense.

“We were able to keep them from scoring quickly and we stepped up offensively-especially in the third quarter to get a couple scores,” he said.

Adams said the key for the Eagles tonight is to keep A-R’s “double-edged sword” of Tyler Tonderum and Ridge Christiansen in check. Both players have over 1,300 yards rushing and combined for 52 touchdowns. Christiansen also has passed for 682 yards and 14 touchdowns to just one interception.

“You can’t shut them down-they’ll get their yards,” he said. “But we need to know where they’re at.”

Offensively, the Eagles have their own double-edged sword with running Blake Pedersen with 1,112 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns along with 10 receptions for 227 yards and four scores. Quarterback Nick Larson is 60-for-107 passing for 1,011 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Sophomore end Dalton Guerdet had caught 26 passes for 347 yards and seven touchdowns while Brock Beadle had 17 catches for 311 yards and five touchdowns.

“Offensively, we’re more of a grind-it-out team,” Adams said. “We have to have ball control and long drives.”

With these two rivals taking the field, Zotz said it will come down to the little things.

“Both teams are fundamentally sound,” he said. “It will come down to who gives up the big play and creates a turnover or makes the extra points.

“That’s what makes football great. You don’t know when things are going to happen.”