Clash of the titans
ARMSTRONG – Speed meets power as Armstrong-Ringsted (7-1, 5-1) welcomes fellow area eight-man standout Graettinger/Terril (7-1, 5-1) to Armstrong tonight for the final game of the regular season.
A year ago the teams also met in the final week before playoffs as A-R emerged victorious 42-21 over the Knights in G/T’s first year in eight-man football.
Now a year later, both teams come into the game with identical records – each with their only loss coming at the hands of North Sentral Kossuth – and looking to secure home field advantage in the first round of playoffs as well as some bragging rights.
“It’s going to be a physical game,” said A-R coach Robert Zotz. “Naturally, being so close our kids know each other so there’s some bragging rights that play into it. Since our records are even this year and we’re fighting for that second seed, it’s going to be a big deal. Neither of us have lost in a long time, it’s going to be a tough game.”
Graettinger/Terril coach Karlton Hector sees playoff success leading through Armstrong.
“We’re going up against the team that’s the standard in the eight-man game. They have the experience, they have the talent and they’ve been to the championship game the last two years so they’ve set the standard for our sport.”
Both coaches agree, while earning the second spot in playoffs is important, it isn’t completely necessary.
“It’s nice to get that second seed,” said Zotz. “I don’t think it’s a make or break type of deal but it certainly would be nice to get to host that first home game and get a little momentum heading into the playoffs.”
“Getting that second spot would be great,” said Hector. “With home field advantage, in this district we’re paired up with, that travel is going to be around two hours or so. A win would be big going into the playoffs but it’s not the end all be all.”
In order to win, Zotz believes they will have to slow down G/T’s power rushing attack and counter the Knights’ ability to stop the rush with a balanced offensive attack.
“They run the ball well and they also stop the run. They’re a big physical team and they like to use that to wear you down.
“It’s going to be an up-tempo game. Both teams are good at running the football. I want to have a balanced attack so they won’t be able to key on what we are doing offensively. They also have a great, big play running back that can take it the distance whenever he touches it, so we’re going to try to limit his big plays and keep them in third and long situations.”
When facing a dynamic offense like the Mustangs, coach Hector feels that team defense is the key.
“Team defense is going to be huge for us. We need to get everyone to the ball. If you have one or two guys not in the right position, they have the speed to exploit that and then you’re in trouble. We’ve got to get everyone to the football and gang tackle if we want to win the game.”
Coming into the game, G/T is the clear underdog but Hector feels that if the Knights can play their style of football, they can beat anyone at anytime.
“We’ve talked about being the underdog a little bit, but it doesn’t matter how much you talk about it, you still have to go out there and play and we feel like we’re a good team too. We’re giving them the respect they’ve earned but we don’t feel like we’re that big of underdogs. We have the same record and if we come out and play how we’re capable of playing we feel we’ll come out of there with a win.”
Key to the game:
Control the tempo.
G/T is a big and physical team on both sides of the ball. They’re going to grind it out and wear you down. A-R has speed at all positions and can score from anywhere on the field. Whoever controls the tempo and forces their opponent to change their game plan should have the upper hand.