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Class 2A State Playoff Preview – Midgets prepare for Lion attack

By David Swartz - Managing Editor | Oct 28, 2020

ELC quarterback Ryan Schiltz, left, warms up with from receiver Matt Christensen. The duo have connected for nine touchdowns this season. Photo by David Swartz

Will Friday’s Class 2A playoff game between No. 2 Central Lyon/George-Little Rock (8-0) and No. 8 Estherville Lincoln Central (7-1) be an offensive or defensive battle?

Although the matchup features two of the best quarterbacks in the state, the initial bet could easily be placed on the defenses.

Central Lyon/George-Little Rock has shut out four teams this year. The 27 points given up in last week’s come-from-behind 34-27 win over Unity Christian is the most the Lions have allowed all season. Unity Christian was shutout 21-0 in the teams’ regular season meeting. West Lyon is the only other team to score more than a touchdown against the Lions’ starters. Sheldon scored two touchdowns against CL/GLR, but the second one came after the game had been decided.

ELC’s defense has been just as solid this season with Algona’s 20 points the second-most scored during regulation. Spirit Lake scored 21 points against ELC in regulation and a touchdown in each overtime on the way to a 34-27 double overtime victory on Sept. 18.

The Lions have forced 15 turnovers this season while ELC’s defense had forced 19.

While history is not Estherville Lincoln Central’s side in the matchups against Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, as the Midgets head to Rock Rapids for Friday’s Class 2A playoff game.

ELC will look to make its own history.

“They’re a good ball club and a solid running team,” said ELC coach Ryan Rezac. “Their defense tough. This will be a good matchup. “

As District 1 champions, the Lions had a bye two weeks ago. In their first postseason game last week, CL/GLR rallied from a 27-13 fourth-quarter deficit, and rallied with 21 unanswered points to pull out the 34-27 victory.

Kalen Meyer leads the Lion defense with 38.5 tackles. Zack Anderson and Garrett Paulson lead ELC with 46 tackles apiece while Zavion McMurran has 39 tackles. McMurran’s nine sacks are tied for second-most in Class 2A.

Both defenses will be charged with stopping a very good offense, as each team boasts one of the top quarterbacks in the state.

The Lions’ sophomore quarterback Zach Lutmer is third in Class 2A in total touchdowns with 17 rushing and seven passing.

ELC junior quarterback Ryan Schiltz is second in Class 2A in total touchdowns with 27 total. He leads 2A in passing touchdowns with 23.

Lutmer has done more with his legs with 1,007 yards on 126 carries. He also is 45-of-75 passing for 852 yards and one interception.

Schiltz has picked up in the ground game the past few games and now has 76 carries for 302 yards.

Other leading rushers for the Lions are Kalen Meyer (50-278), and Kayden Van Berkum (47-162). The top receivers are Cooper Spiess (12-of-250-3), and Luke Rasmussen (15-191-3).

McMurran leads ELC’s ground attack with 76 carries for 439 yards and 10 touchdowns. Schiltz has 76 carries for 302 yards and five touchdowns.

Schiltz has completed 84-of-152 passes for 1,242 yards and five interceptions. Matt Christensen is the top receiver with 34 catches for 509 yards and nine touchdowns. Daryl Jensen had 19 catches for 278 and five touchdowns, Kevin Egeland has 11 catches for 196 yards and five touchdowns and Lamont Whiting has 12 catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns.

CL/GLR and ELC have not met since they were in the same district in 2016 and 2017. The Lions won 36-26 in 2016 and 42-21 in 2017. Both teams have picked up the pace from the 2019 season. CL/GLR was 5-5 last season while ELC finished 4-5.

“We’ve given ourselves the opportunity to play in this big game,” said Rezac. “The little things will be the big things and determine the ball game.”