A-R, AR-WE-VA prepare for second meeting in three years
ARMSTRONG – Armstrong-Ringsted and AR-WE-VA will meet on the gridiron for the second time in three years when the Rockets come to Armstrong today.
The two teams’ first meeting was a memorable one with A-R winning 45-42 in overtime with an interception in the endzone sealing the Mustangs victory in the 8-man semifinal game in the UNI-Dome.
One thing is certain for tonight’s game-field conditions will be far different than those in the dome.
The Mustangs just finished the final regular season game in a muddy contest with Graettinger-Terril.
A-R coach Robert Zotz said with the better weather this week, the field might not be too bad though.
“As long as we’re not playing on wet slippery mud, I’m pretty happy,” said Zotz.
Like A-R, AR-WE-VA (Arcadia, Westside and Vail) is in the playoffs for the fourth straight year. Last year, the Rockets lost 40-13 in the substate game.
AR-WE-VA coach Phil Snyder and his team is ready for the rematch with the Mustangs.
“I don’t suppose (Tyler) Tonderum has gotten any slower,” he quipped.
“Tonderum’s arguably one of the best in 8-man,” Snyder said. “We need to keep him inside because if he gets ouside, it could get ugly in a hurry. Our defensive ends will really have to work.
“They also have a tall quarterback (Spencer Clausen) that can see the field. Against Laurens-Marathon, he looked better in the rain than he did on a dry field,” said Snyder. “We also need to keep him in check becuse he likes to run around the ends too. Even though it’s his first year, he’s gotten better every game.”
Snyder said he sees similarities between the 8-Man districts 1 and 2.
“The top four are competitive and there’s a drop off after that,” he said. “North Sentral Kossuth is on a little better level.”
The Rockets have nine seniors-seven who were witness to the 2007 overtime game.
“We have two that weren’t out, but they’ve contributed a lot and we wouldn’t be where we’re at without them,” Ssnyder said. “We played a good game against Remsen-Union and I feel we’re playing as tough as any team right now.”
Snyder said AR-WE-VA threw more last year, but has relied more on the run in 2009.
“We don’t have the tall receivers and the speed we had last year, but we can throw when we need to.”
Looking at A-R’s 3-3 defense, Snyder believes his team can have success.
“Remsen-Union ran that and had the lineblackers blitz hard all night,” he said. “They (A-R) sit back and read the backfield well. We’ll look to run some quick hits and hopefully connect on a few passes to soften them up.”
Coach Zotz said his team has to watch out for AR-WE-VA’s quarterback.
“He’s got a rocket for an arm, but they like to try to run it first,” Zotz said. “If that doens’t work then they’ll pass.”
With a slight chance of rain, the A-R coach said that is a concern.
“With the mud and the ball, that hurts us from doing the inside-outside game and play-action,” he said. “Good weather helps get our offense on track.”
Zotz said although A-R scored 39 points against Graettinger/Terril in the regular season finale, it wasn’t the same team.
“We became one dimensional and that’s not something we’ve done all year,” he said. “But that was the only thing that would work in those conditions.”
Defensively, he said the weather isn’t a concern.
“Our defense does a good job no matter what the weather,” said Zotz.
While A-R has forced other teams to do what they don’t want to, Zotz said that isn’t the case with the Rockets.
“They’re comfortable with anyting,” he said. “As long as we can execute and the offensive can explode early, we”ll be all right.”