Armstrong-Ringsted/Stanton preview: Mustangs vs. Vikings II
ARMSTRONG – Moments after the 2007 Eight-Man Championship game, three players from both Armstrong-Ringsted and Stanton gathered for postgame interviews.
As soon as they were done with the media, the Stanton players began asking the A-R players how many seniors they had. Discovering that Ridge Christiansen and Tyler Tonderum were underclassmen, the mood turned to one of anticipation as the players viewed a possible rematch in 2008.
On Friday, top-rated Stanton and fourth-rated A-R will meet for the sequel at the UNI-Dome-however this isn’t for the championship game, but is the 1:30 p.m. semifinal.
The two teams feature the highest scoring teams in the state regardless of class. The Vikings are first with 808 points while the Mustangs have scored 647. (Lenox, which is in the other Eight-Man semifinal against Corwith-Wesley-Luverne, is third on the list with 559 points).
Looking back at last year’s championship game, Stanton coach Don Hicks remembers a “well-playd hard-fought battle.”
Stanton entered the 2007 playoffs with the closest game a nine-point victory. The eight-point win over A-R in the finals is still the Vikings’ closest contest.
Looking at tape of A-R this season, Hicks sees an improved Mustang team.
“To me, they look a lot better than last year,” he said. “I think Christiansen is the best running quarterback in the state.”
A-R coach Robert Zotz said what he remembers from last season is the errors on both sides.
“We gave up three big pass plays, they gave up two,” said Zotz. “I think both coaches’ mindset is to not give up the big play.”
For the second straight year, the Mustangs have been challenged during the regular season. In 2007, they suffered an early season loss to Ventura and one the quarterfinal and semifinal games by just a field goal.
Meanwhile Stanton’s toughest contest was the 42-17 quarterfinal win over Coon Rapids-Bayard with most other games settled by 50 points or more.
“The varsity did not play very many quarters up until the playoffs,” said Hicks.
The focus for the Vikings as been to dominate all opponents no matter which quarter it is.
“I think the area we’ve improved most on is defense,” Hicks said. “It’s not easy to limit teams in Eight-Man football.”
The Vikings have the largest margin of victory, having given up only 128 points this season.
The Stanton coach said there a lot of adjustments to make to prepare for A-R.
“We haven’t seen a team that runs the ball that well,” Hick said. “We’re emhasizing the mental game and good assignment football. No one can have a mediocre day.”
Zotz said the Mustangs have been working on their game all season.
“They (Stanton) don’t do anything that we haven’t seen from other teams,” he said. “We’ve been doing what we’ve done for the last few months. Hopefully a week of preparation won’t counter what we’ve been working on all year.”