ST. CLOUD, Minn (MSC) – While not quite the half way point in an 8 game football schedule, high school teams around the area have found out a few things about themselves after 3 games. Here we take a look at what we have found out about the teams of the Central Lakes Conference.
ROCORI Spartans: Change is not always easy.
For the past few years, the Spartans seemed to pull winning teams from the pieces of whatever the prior year's squad had left them. They made it look very easy year to year, but finally growing pains seem to be catching up to what is an inexperienced unit for head coach Mike Rowe. Improvement could always just be a week away, but at 0-3 the Spartans can't wait too long.
Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm: Offense not the issue.
After a one win season for the Storm in which they scored more than 14 points just 3 times, the 2013 campaign brought plenty of concern over how to score in Sauk Rapids. But with early returns of 24 points per game, the concern has flipped to the opposite side of the ball. The Storm, losing to three high powered teams in the CLC have yet to hold an opponent under 40 points. Relief may come this week against the Otters of Fergus Falls who are 1-2 on the season.
Sartell-St. Stephen Sabres: An unkind early schedule.
The Sabres at 1-2 ran into the staunch defense of Tech and the wide-open offense of Willmar in two of the first three weeks of the season. For a team replacing key players on each side of the football, that early gauntlet has proved an undoing. Sartell though has a big key that can equalize any opponent, any week, a promising run game. Things do not get any easier against Bemidji this week...but the soft belly of the schedule could be on the way against Grand Rapids, Rocori and Sauk Rapids Rice as better match-ups down the week.
St. Cloud Tech Tigers: Call it a comeback by the defense.
After a 2-0 start where they held opponents to just 7 total points, the Tech Tigers seemed dead in the water in week three after allowing 20 points to Rocori. But then, that defense returned, and it came back in more ways than one. Aside from shutting the Spartans out on the scoreboard the rest of the way, it was defenders that came in to make an impact in the power running game for the Tigers. Easily what we know about the 3-0 Tigers, they can go as far as this defense can take them, and that may include both sides of the ball more often than not.
St. Cloud Apollo Eagles: Proving themselves week by week.
The Eagles are answering doubters every time they step on the field. Early on they gave a resounding yes to those who wondered could they translate their success of a year ago. Now they have even answered the question of their head coach who didn't know if his team could put together a "complete game." They even gave a yes to that answer with a win in week three. Apollo, with their successes so far at 3-0, still have more questions to answer, starting this week taking on the undefeated and reigning champion Brainerd Warriors. No matter the outcome this Friday, Willmar and Tech also still loom on the testing docket for this the first of the new era of Eagle squads.
CLC Overall So Far: Mirror images for new north and south.
Bemidji and Brainerd lead the North CLC at 3-0, keeping step for step with the leaders in the South, Tech and Apollo who are also 3-0. One of the unblemished teams will fall this week with the big match-up between Brainerd and Apollo, while Bemidji must take on Sartell and Tech travels to Moorhead. The Spuds and Willmar Cardinals are both 2-1 waiting to jump back into the race. Fergus and Sartell each have a single win while Alex, Grand Rapids, Rocori and Sauk Rapids Rice are all searching for win number 1.
(Editor Note: Look for this week's MSC Audio Game Previews starting tomorrow right here on knsiradio.com.)