Football: Wingers look to turn their luck aroundRed Wing continues to battle through a rash of injuries heading into the regular season finale against Chanhassen
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Another week and another set of injuries for Red Wing.
Junior quarterback Isaac Toivonen suffered a low ankle sprain Friday against New Prague for the Wingers after spending much of the season with a high sprain on the same ankle and will sit out of Wednesday’s game in Chanhassen. Senior Andre Page, Red Wing’s most productive offensive threat, also injured his hand and will only play defense because of the injury.
“We just ran into a really long string of really bad luck,” Red Wing head coach Matt Schultz said of his team’s injury-riddled season. “These are some big, strong, physical teams we’re playing. There’s just so many injuries happening and then it seems to trickle down.”
Senior Ricky Turcotte will reclaim the starting quarterback position in the final game of the regular season. He started the first three games for the Wingers, completing 6 of 13 passes for 52 yards in little more than a quarter of Red Wing’s 35-2 loss to New Prague last week.
“He’s easily sliding in for us and he’s ready to go,” Schultz said.
Last season, the Wingers (1-6, 0-6 Missota) lost just one starter, an offensive lineman, and replaced him with a junior who had playing experience at the spot. With more than a half dozen serious injuries this season, Red Wing is forced to start players out of position.
“This is always my argument for why we platoon,” Schultz said. “When you get some pretty severe injuries, you move guys into position they aren’t familiar with.”
The Wingers’ starting middle linebacker, strong safety, free safety, outside linebacker and top cornerback have all missed significant time this year, among others.
But Schultz knows another tough opponent is ahead in Chanhassen, a 5A school that dominated then fourth-ranked Farmington 28-3 on Oct. 5.
The Storm (4-3, 4-2 Missota) boast an impressive running game with their top two runners averaging six yards per carry. Running back Nathan Johnson has 118 carries this season for 709 yards and six touchdowns, while quarterback Ryan McGuire tallied 424 yards on 71 attempts with two touchdowns. McGuire also completes 52.3 percent of his passes with a 13-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, including 10 touchdowns passes to receiver Jared Lea.
“I’m a lot less concerned about their passing game than I am about their running game,” Schultz said. “If we don’t stop it, they’ll keep doing it.”
Chanhassen runs a similar offense to Northfield, centered on the veer option, and the Storm’s off-tackle runs will be difficult to slow down.
“They’re just big and strong,” Schultz said. “Their offensive line is as good as it was last year and that was really good.”
A major reason for Red Wing’s struggles this season is its inability to contain teams from the first whistle. The Wingers have been outscored 76-7 in the first quarter and Schultz isn’t quite sure why.
“We’ve started on defense, they go down and score; we start on offense, we go 3-and-out and punt,” he said. “It’s not us; it’s the team’s we’re playing.”
The regular season finale begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Chanhassen.