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Football: Red Wing gears up for a tough duo

Red Wing head football coach Matt Schultz knew Shakopee's offense was a matchup nightmare for his team Friday.

"They're a team that lines up as a foot-to-foot wall of humanity," Schultz said of the Sabers.

Where the Wingers tend to match up better, according to Schultz, is against teams in the spread offense, similar to what Red Wing runs.

And coming up this Friday on the road against Farmington, the Wingers' defense hopes to find some solace in covering the spread.

"We've been saying it for years, we match up best against a team that spreads the ball like that," Schultz said. "Hopefully, (defensive coordinator) John Jones has a good game plan."

To stop an undefeated Tigers team, the Wingers have to stop the two big guns in the backfield: quarterback Darren Beenken and running back Athen Ashton. The Farmington seniors were named to the All-Missota Conference team last season.

Against Northfield last week, Beenken completed 76 percent of his passes for 199 yards, despite throwing three interceptions. Beenken also moved the ball on the ground to the tune of 18 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Tigers' 27-20 victory over the Raiders.

"Last year, after we beat them, they really changed their offense and started spreading it around and throwing the ball," Schultz said. "(Beenken's) been there since he was a sophomore. I know what it's like to have a three-year starter, having a kid who knows a system and is a little bit of a coach on the field."

At tailback, Ashton returns after averaging 103.4 yards per game last season with seven touchdowns. He was also Farmington's No. 2 receiver with 162 receiving yards and 10 catches.

Early on this season, the Tigers have proven to be a team that can play all three facets of the game, excelling on special teams.

During Farmington's season-opening 19-7 victory over Rochester Mayo, all of the Tigers' points came on special teams. Ashton had an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and junior kicker Reid Taubenheim booted four field goals, including a 48-yarder.

"We're going to have to try and put as much points up as we can to pull it out," Schultz said. "The key for us is going to be to play our game and try to stay within what we do and don't overextend ourselves."

Schultz is prepared to see an aggressive defensive front from Farmington, fueled by its front three.

"They have three guys with their hands on the ground that each have good motors," Schultz said. "They like to get up and get upfield, and that's something we'll have to take care of. They do occasionally run a four-man front, and that's more of a shade than a down lineman. ... They run a real similar defense to what we run."

Starting at 7 p.m. Friday, the Wingers hope to duplicate last year's 27-19 victory over the Tigers and stay in the hunt for the Missota Conference.

"What we have to do is worry about what we can do and what we can do best," Schultz said. "Offensively, that means we need to be crisp, run clean routes, pass protect well. We need to play hard."