Football: Wingers look to kick-start sputtering offenseRed Wing scored five touchdowns in its season-opening 35-22 victory against Austin in Red Wing. Since then, the Wingers have scored three touchdowns in the last three games.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing scored five touchdowns in its season-opening 35-22 victory against Austin in Red Wing. Since then, the Wingers have scored three touchdowns in the last three games.
The offensive slumber is a two-fold issue for Red Wing head coach Matt Schultz: Red Wing can’t find an offensive rhythm, and by the fourth quarter, the Wingers can’t keep teams from scoring either.
“We need to find a way to be a little more competitive on the offensive side of the ball,” he said. “Offensively we need to find a way to move the ball and get some first downs.”
Red Wing’s second-half woes continued last week as Chaska held a 14-0 lead after the third quarter before adding 19 points in the fourth quarter of a 33-0 victory. The Wingers (1-3, 0-3 Missota) have been outscored 68-28 in the second half this season.
“They’ve played really well,” Schultz said of his defense. “That has been our strength. It was 14-0 at the end of the third quarter (against Chaska). That’s not terrible.”
Chaska is tied for 18th in the QRF standings for 5A, Shakopee is 25th in 6A and Farmington is ranked fourth in 5A QRF and seventh in the Associated Press rankings.
“We’re playing some pretty dang good football teams,” Schultz said. “I feel like we’re a Football Championship Series team loaded up with Big Ten teams at the beginning of the year. It gets frustrating when we can’t run the ball. We’ve got to find a way to do it. That’s the position we’re in right now and that’s life. It’s a good learning experience.”
The schedule doesn’t ease up this week as Red Wing plays host to Academy of Holy Angels (3-1, 3-0 Missota), a team that defeated Shakopee 42-34 last Friday. The Wingers lost 30-6 to Shakopee, but Schultz said it was a bad matchup against the run-heavy Sabers.
Holy Angels runs a spread offense similar to Chaska’s and rely on quarterback Sam Keis to find openings with his arms and his legs as the Stars’ primary threat throwing and running. Red Wing will need to slow Keis to slow Holy Angels, Schultz said.
“We’ve seen it a lot now, it’s a matter of matching up with their athletes and not giving up big plays,” he said of the spread offense. “(Keis) is very good. A lot of time it’s not a called play for him; it’s if he doesn’t see something down the field and he uses his feet. … We have to stay fundamentally sound.”
In four games, Keis has a 60.8 completion percentage to go with nine passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns.
Defensively, the Stars boast a disruptive middle linebacker in Mikias Alipate, the younger brother of University of Minnesota’s Moses Alipate. Mikias had a team-leading 44 total tackles through three games, blocked a kick and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
If the Wingers hope to combat Alipate and Holy Angels’ defense, they will need to catch the ball better this week. Against Chaska, Red Wing had as many drops as receptions with seven.
“That’s not acceptable,” Schultz said. “We have to catch the ball and make some better decisions. … We’ll have to try to spread the ball around a little.”
Junior Isaac Toivonen will start at quarterback for the second consecutive week for the Wingers and look to build on an up-and-down first game.
As the end of the torturous stretch nears, Schultz is making sure to stay positive with a dinged-up group. Six starters are dealing with injuries for Red Wing.
The Wingers play host to Holy Angels Friday at 7 p.m.