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Football: Wingers prep for one of Missota’s best

In the first two weeks of the Missota Conference schedule, Red Wing is facing, literally, the biggest challenges in the conference.

Last Friday, the Wingers traveled to Class 6A Shakopee, falling 49-20. Now, coming into its first home game this Friday, Red Wing faces another 6A school in undefeated Farmington.

Not only do the Tigers have the numbers on their roster, they also bring one of the most talented teams in the conference. Wingers’ head coach Matt Schultz said Farmington ranks among the top contenders in the Missota along with Chaska.

“They have some of the biggest and strongest guys in the conference,” Schultz said. “They definitely look faster than any team we’ve played against so far, and they’re definitely bigger and stronger than anyone we’ve faced.”

After two straight weeks of run-heavy offenses with Ellsworth’s wishbone and Shakopee’s veer, the Wingers will see a more balanced attack from Farmington. 

During their 21-14 Week 2 victory over Northfield, the Tigers got a strong performance in the pocket from quarterback Tyler VanWinkle, who went 16-for-21 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Wideout Mac Bassett emerged as the top target last Friday with four catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Jordan DeCroock added five receptions for 48 yards and a score.

The duo of Darren Beenken and Athen Ashton that tore up the Wingers in a 35-14 victory last year aren’t around, but Farmington’s offense hasn’t slowed down, averaging 25.5 points per game in wins over Northfield and River Falls (30-20).

“Farmington still does a really nice job (offensively); they didn’t throw many incompletions (against Northfield) and they can still move the ball on the ground,” Schultz said. “In the first game against River Falls, we saw River Falls all summer at our 7-on-7 (passing) league, so we had a good gauge of River Falls and Farmington shut them down.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Red Wing is getting ready for a heavy barrage of blitzes.

“They have two or three of the bigger defensive linemen that we’re going to play,” Schultz said. “Then, throw in the fact they blitz from everywhere. They’ll blitz the outside linebacker, inside linebacker, they’ll bring up the strong safety. It’s a good defense.”

Starting the season 0-2, Red Wing has found some silver linings through the tough start. After getting shut out in Week 1, the Wingers were able to up their play against the Sabers, especially in the second half. 

“We split our guys into different rooms for offense and defense, and right now they have different moods, but we have good things going,” Schultz said. “On offense, we got better as the first half went on (against Shakopee), then in the second half we played much better than the week before. Defensively, I don’t know if Shakopee punted in Week 1 and we got them to punt. There are some positive things.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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