Football: Wingers hope to rebound againFollowing a blowout loss to Holy Angels last year, the Red Wing football team went on a win streak. The Wingers are hoping to duplicate that feat again, starting Friday against Northfield
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Four weeks have passed since Red Wing had some fun on the football field.
The Wingers got outscored 160-26 in their four losses this season and none was more punishing than last week’s 62-6 drubbing at the hands of Holy Angels in Red Wing.
“You learn from every experience you have,” Red Wing head coach Matt Schultz said. “We did some things that were uncharacteristic of us. We didn’t tackle real well Friday. On the whole, we try to stay as positive as we can. That was a really good football team. Sometimes you’ve just got to take it for a game.”
Last season, the Wingers took it from Holy Angels in a 36-0 loss during the third week, but Red Wing recovered to win the next three games. The defeat was a springboard for the rest of the season and Schultz said he hopes some momentum is found this Friday’s 7 p.m. game in Northfield.
“Last year, we went up to Holy Angels, they had their way with us but after that we were a much better football team,” Schultz said. “Making it through this last stretch of four games was pretty hard on us. … There’s no excuse. We just constantly talk about improving each week. We don’t look past anyone we’re playing.”
Northfield brings its own frustrations into Friday’s game, going winless in the first five games of the season, losing three games by a touchdown or less. The Raiders fell on a late field goal 32-29 to Shakopee last week and boast an offense that has scored at least 27 points in the last three games.
“They’re scoring points,” Schultz said. “They run a ton of trick plays. The No. 1 thing is just trying to identify responsibilities.”
The Wingers watched film for an extended period of time Monday, because it is difficult to simulate Northfield’s option offense, Schultz said.
“They lull you to sleep with the veer and then throw it over the top,” he said. “A lot of times you can’t replicate what a team does. Just stay in our system and do your job.”
But the defensive assignments won’t matter if Red Wing can’t convert on offense. In order to keep Northfield winless, the Wingers will need to jumpstart an anemic ground game.
“We haven’t done a lot of (running). This is a week where we’ll really try to do more of that. Really dig and try to get after them,” Schultz said. “See if we can’t get some touchdowns, get first downs and move the ball far enough down the field. We haven’t had tremendous field position but we haven’t done a lot of get ourselves out of that situation. That’s something we really need to do.”
Red Wing junior quarterback Isaac Toivonen also will have to limit turnovers. He threw four interceptions in the loss to Holy Angels while still learning in his new role and he has plenty of upside, including his ability to run the ball.
“A turnover is only a bad thing if you don’t learn from it,” Schultz said. “You got to get rid of the ball early. The big thing for a new quarterback is learning his pre-snap reads and making an even faster decision after the ball is snapped. The advantage he’s got is he has nice feet. He gives us an added dimension to the quarterback position we haven’t had. Isaac is a runner, he’ll carry guys. He’s going to be a nice quarterback for us.”
The Wingers are aiming to get a much needed win Friday night in Northfield, which would be their first since the first week of the season and gain a much-need moral boost for an injury-riddled team.
“We’re struggling … from knees, to shoulders, to concussions. You name it, we’ve had it,” Schultz said. “It’s tough to lose each week. Believe me, I know. Focus in practice gets a lot better when you win a game on Friday night. It’s a lot easier to bring your lunch pail and get to work. It’s a lot easier to do those things if you taste victory a little bit.”