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Rivarly week – No. 8 ELC hosts Spirit Lake

By David Swartz - Managing Editor | Sep 16, 2020

It’s rivalry week this Friday, as Spirit Lake comes to Estherville.

A year ago, Estherville Lincoln Central pulled off an upset victory of then eighth-ranked Spirit Lake.

Prior to that victory, the Midgets had had beaten the Indians since 2005. After that 12-7 win, the two teams were in different classes between 2006-09, but have played every year between 2010 and 2018 with Spirit Lake winning each time until the 20-14 win in 2019.

Neither team should need any motivation to get fired up for Friday’s game.

Spirit Lake enters the contest with any uncharacteristic 1-2 record, recording their first win just last Friday in dismantling Algona 40-17. The Indians’ first two games were each decided by a touchdown.

The Indians lost 14-7 to West Sioux, currently ranked 11th in Class 1A, in Week 1. In Week 2, current 1A top-rated OABCIG defeated Spirit Lake 14-7.

ELC, which leaped into the Top 10 at No. 8 in the Class 2A poll this week, hasn’t faced the same level of competition. The Midgets’ first three opponents are a combined 2-7 so far this season–Sheldon (1-2), MOC-Floyd Valley (0-3), and Okoboji (1-2).

The Indians had a balanced attack in their win over Algona. Brent Scott finished 13-of-19 passing for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Dillon Fine rushed for 184 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown.

Spirit Lake will be a good test for the ELC defense, which has given up just two touchdowns this season.

ELC’s offense has been balanced throughout the year with 569 yards through the air and 500 on the ground. Ryan Schiltz is 33-of-58 passing for 519 yards and eight touchdowns. Matt Christensen is his top target with 13 catches for 274 yards and two scores, but seven other receivers have caught at least one pass.

Spirit Lake also spreads the ball out with nine different players having caught at least one pass this season, led by Vance Katzfey’s nine catches for 172 yards.

ELC has done well in the turnover battle, causing two fumbles and intercepting 10 passes. Spirit Lake’s defense has recovered four fumbles and snagged three interceptions. Zack Anderson leads ELC’s defense with 16.5 tackles while Spirit Lake is led by Zach Jensen’s 20 tackles.

Friday’s game should be a good measuring stick for both teams on how the rest of the season will pan out.