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Ready for a rematch

ELC hosts Okoboji in Class 2A first round

By David Swartz - Managing Editor | Oct 16, 2020

Matt Christensen

Estherville Lincoln Central will face a familiar foe, as Okoboji comes to town Friday for the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.

With all teams making the playoffs under the new format, the Midgets will put their 5-1 record up against Okoboji’s 1-6 mark. The winner will play either Algona (3-3) or Cherokee (1-3) the following week.

In ELC’s first meeting with Okoboji, the Pioneers had some early success running the ball, but the Midgets’ defense stepped up. Okoboji finished with just 109 rushing yards and didn’t have a completed pass in nine attempts.

“Past success doesn’t equal this game’s result,” said ELC coach Ryan Rezac. “Okoboji is definitely a run-heavy team. In playoff time, everything is magnified and the game in front of you is most important.”

ELC’s offense has had more balanced approach this season. However, the Midgets have a core group of receivers for junior quarterback Ryan Schiltz.

Although he threw just one touchdown pass in the first meeting against Okoboji, Schiltz has thrown four touchdown passes in each of the past three games. He enters the playoffs have completed 74 of 130 passes for 1,066 yards with 20 touchdowns to four interceptions.

Matt Christensen has been the lead receiver all season. The 6-4 senior has 30 catches for 513 yards with eight touchdowns. Daryl Jensen has 16 catches for 250 yards and five touchdowns while Lamont whiting has 11 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns and Kevin Egeland has 10 catches for 173 yards and five touchdowns. Seven other players have caught at least one pass.

While Schiltz threw for 227 yards against Okoboji the first time, the Midgets also had a successful ground game with a combined 30 carries for 172 yards. Zavion McMurran led the effort with six carries for 88 yards and three touchdowns.

Okoboji’s lone win this season was a 17-13 victory over North Union in Week 2. The Pioneers have been shut out four times. In the regular season finale, Okoboji scored a season-high 21 points in a 57-21 loss to Algona. Okoboji has rushed for 806 yards this season led by Austin Simpson’s 71 carries for 278 yards while quarterback Dawson Goecke has carried the ball 82 times for 270 yards. Goecke is 17-of-59 passing with two touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Zack Anderson leads ELC’s defense this season with 37.5 tackles while Garrett Paulson has 34, Zavion McMurran has 28, Nick Leonard has 27, and Brody Waddell has 23.5. McMurran has six sacks.

ELC’s defense has forced 16 turnovers this year with 12 interceptions and four rumble recoveries.

Rezac has enjoyed watching the development of his team this year.

“For us, the focus is to take another stop as a program–improving ourselves as football players and men,” the coach said.