ALGONA - St. Edmond hit the ground running in its 2012 season debut on the gridiron Friday night.
Turning in a complete effort on both sides of the ball, the Gael football team (1-0 overall) posted a resounding 33-0 shutout triumph over longtime rival Bishop Garrigan at Conway Field.
Senior tailback Alex Mericle sparked the explosive SEHS offensive charge with a career-high 187 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Mericle found paydirt from 4, 7 and 4 yards out, respectively.
"(The Golden Bears) were closing hard inside defensively, and I was just able to pop some runs to the outside," said the 195-pound Mericle, who was a second-team all-district pick a year ago. "When you have a 230-pound fullback (junior Vinnie Harvey) opening up holes in front of you, it makes (running) a lot easier. I feel like I'm quite a bit faster this year, too."
Harvey also delivered 105 yards and a score, while senior Aaron McElroy added 85 yards of his own. The Gaels racked up 378 yards on the ground to go along with 17 first downs.
"We were a little ragged at times, but I guess you can expect that in the first game of the season," said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who earned his 392nd career victory Friday. "I still saw a lot of encouraging things, especially from our three backs (Mericle, Harvey and McElroy). Outside of a couple of early fumbles, I can't really complain about too much else. I thought we were able to kind of wear (Garrigan) down as the game went on."
First downs 17 13
Rushes-yards 55-378 41-195
Passing 1-3-1 1-7-2
Passing yards 12 19
Total yards 390 214
Punts 1-41.0 4-35.0
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 5-2
Penalties-Yards 5-40 8-75
St. Edmond 7 13 6 7-33
Bishop Garrigan 0 0 0 0 - 0
St. Edmond - Landon Peed (12-yard pass from David Flattery), 6:35 left first. Aaron McElroy kick.
St. Edmond - Alex Mericle (4-yard run), 10:08 left second. McElroy kick.
St. Edmond - Mericle (7-yard run), :24 left second. Kick blocked.
St. Edmond - Mericle (4-yard run), 7:29 left third. Conversion run failed.
St. Edmond - Vinnie Harvey (13-yard run), 9:08 left fourth. McElroy kick.
RUSHING- St. Edmond: Alex Mericle 26-187, Vinnie Harvey 16-105, Aaron McElroy 8-85, Michael Faiferlick 1-7, Nick Hindt 3-3, David Flattery 1-(minus-9). Bishop Garrigan: Shawn Vaske 16-98, Reece Wadle 15-46, Jake Kollasch 8-38, Brayton Loss 1-11, Connor Langerman 1-2.
PASSING - St. Edmond: Flattery 1-3-1-12. Bishop Garrigan: Wadle 1-7-2-19.
RECEIVING - St. Edmond: Landon Peed 1-12. Bishop Garrigan: Chris Loss 1-19.
After exchanging turnovers on the first two possessions of the contest, the Gaels then broke through on their ensuing drive when senior signal-caller David Flattery connected with sophomore receiver Landon Peed on a 12-yard touchdown strike on 4th-and-goal, capping an efficient 8-play, 35-yard drive.
"That was a critical play at the time," Tighe said. "With 12 yards to go, we decided to throw a fade pattern (in the left corner of the endzone) to Landon, who was able to outjump the defender and come down with the ball."
From there, St. Edmond later extended its advantage to 20-0 at the break and kept all the momentum throughout the second half. The lone Gael punt came with just over a minute to play in the contest.
"We didn't do much of anything right (last evening)," said BGHS head coach Marty Wadle. "Hopefully, we can keep improving as the season moves on."
Defensively, the Gaels forced four turnovers (two picks and two fumbles) and limited the Golden Bears (0-1) to just 214 yards of total offense - 195 rushing and 19 passing.
Jimmy Averill and Matt Stumpf each collected interceptions for the green and white, while Peed and Lane Florey notched fumble recoveries and Harvey registered a sack.
Shawn Vaske, a senior, provided a bright spot for Garrigan with 98 yards on 16 attempts. The most promising Golden Bear scoring opportunity resulted in a turnover on downs at the Gael 4-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Victor Berte (interception) and Adam Hamilton (sack) anchored the Garrigan defense.
"This (win) should give us some more confidence heading into next week now," Tighe said. "We know Mason City Newman will be one of the toughest teams we have to face this year."
The Gaels welcome the defending Class A state semifinalist Knights (0-1) for their home opener Friday. Newman dropped a 33-13 decision last evening to reigning 1A state champion Saint Ansgar.