MANSON - With a Class 1A, District 2 runner-up finish likely hanging in the balance, the St. Edmond football team hits the road tonight to face long-time nemesis Manson Northwest Webster.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
After dropping a hard-fought 7-6 Homecoming decision to then-No. 8 IKM-Manning last Friday, the seventh-ranked Gaels (5-1 overall, 3-1 district) have been impatiently waiting for an opportunity to rebound.
"We've had a good week of practice, and have really been working hard to get our momentum back," said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who ranks first in state history with 396 career wins. "We know we can't stumble (this evening) and need to keep going to stay in second place (in the district)."
Against the Wolves, St. Edmond was held to a season-low 190 yards of total offense - with only 90 of those coming on the ground. Playing despite a sore foot, tailback Alex Mericle was limited to just 58 yards on 19 carries.
Mericle still ranks second in 1A in scoring (102 points) and sixth in total yards on the ground (982). The 190-pound senior workhorse needs six more rushing touchdowns to tie the program single-season mark.
WT: Matt Remsburg, 215, sr.
WG: Teddie Harvey, 165, jr.
C: Hank Crimmins, 175, jr.
SG: Dillon Nelson, 195, sr.
ST: Jacob Salisbury, 220, sr.
SE: Landon Peed, 165, so.
TE: Hank Lentsch, 175, sr.
WB: Aaron McElroy, 165, sr.
FB: Vinnie Harvey, 225, jr.
HB: Alex Mericle, 195, sr.
QB: David Flattery, 175, sr.
DE: V. Harvey
DT: Jimmy Averill, 175, jr.
LB: T. Harvey
CB: Matt Stumpf, 160, sr.
"I think (Mericle) will probably be about 100 percent this week," Tighe said. "Last week, though, we learned we need some alternatives when (the opponents) stop our running game."
Junior fullback Vinnie Harvey and senior wingback Aaron McElroy have also combined for 573 yards and six scores on the ground for the Gaels, who rank fourth in 1A in total rushing yards (1,873).
Signal-caller David Flattery, a SEHS senior, went 7 of 19 passing for a season-high 100 yards a week ago. Sophomore Landon Peed was his favorite target, pulling down four grabs for 75 yards.
"IKM just crowded the line of scrimmage, so we've been focusing on doing a little more dropback passing," said Tighe. "Down the road, we know we're going to have to do a better job of throwing the football (SEHS has completed 14 of 39 passes this season for 216 yards)."
On the defensive side of the ball, the green and white have forced 16 takeaways - nine picks and seven fumble recoveries - and are surrendering only eight points per contest. Gael senior linebacker Teddie Harvey leads all of 1A with 94 tackles.
"We want to shut down (the MNW) passing game and get pressure on their quarterback (sophomore Alex Bush)," Tighe said. "Manson isn't quite as big and physical as IKM, but they can score some points and have a pretty balanced offense."
Bush has gone 65-for-118 through the air for 952 yards - with 10 endzone strikes and five interceptions - on the year for the Cougars (3-3, 2-1). Seniors Brody Eischeid (30 catches, 390 yards, 2 TD) and Josh Markert (12-233-0) are the go-to receivers for Manson Northwest Webster, which comes in averaging 21.3 points and 272 total yards a night.
Markert earned top individual honors in the 1A long jump at the state track meet this past spring, while Eischeid captured gold in the 400 and anchored the victorious 4x100 and 4x400 relay quartets for 1A state team champion MNW.
Bush currently ranks fourth in 1A in passing yards, and Eischeid is seventh in receiving yards.
"Bush has a quick release and is hard to get to (defensively)," said Tighe. "Eischeid is a great receiver, too. They like to set him in motion and flank him out. He just seems to have a knack for getting open."
Brennan Thompson, a senior, is the top rusher for the Cougars, accumulating 431 yards and reaching paydirt four times on 98 attempts. Thompson has also collected a team-high 75 stops, along with three fumble recoveries and an interception from his linebacker spot.
Manson Northwest Webster, which edged Sioux Central by a 30-26 count in Week 6, has fallen in seven straight meetings against the Gaels. The last Cougar triumph in the series came in a 26-14 decision back in 2002.