MANSON - Any concerns about the St. Edmond football team's resiliency were put to rest Friday night.
Showing few lingering effects from last week's disappointing Homecoming setback to then-No. 8 IKM-Manning, the seventh-ranked Gaels (6-1 overall, 4-1 in district) regained their winning form with a 21-7 Class 1A, District 2 triumph over traditional rival Manson Northwest Webster.
Despite still being hobbled by a sore foot, senior tailback Alex Mericle continued to be the offensive focal point for SEHS, notching 183 yards rushing and a touchdown on 36 carries. Mericle, who entered last evening's game ranked second in 1A in scoring and sixth in yards on the ground, has now compiled 1,165 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. Mericle needs 450 yards and five more scores to tie the program single-season rushing marks.
"I'm still not 100 percent yet, but I'm getting closer," said Mericle, who found paydirt on a 1-yard plunge late in the third quarter. "We didn't want to come to Manson and lose, because this is our biggest rivalry and we know so many of the kids here."
Quarterback David Flattery, another Gael senior, completed 5 of 12 passes for a season-high 110 yards and a pair of scores.
Flattery hooked up with sophomore Landon Peed on an 11-yard endzone strike at the 9:13 mark of the second, capping a methodical 18-play, 73-yard drive, while later connecting with classmate Aaron McElroy from 25 yards out, helping stake the green and white to a 14-0 advantage at the break.
Total Offense 321 272
St. Edmond0 14 7 0- 21
Manson NW Webster 0 0 7 0-7
St. Edmond - Landon Peed (11-yard pass from David Flattery), 9:13 left second. Aaron McElroy kick.
St. Edmond - McElroy (25-yard pass from Flattery), 7:27 left second. McElroy kick.
Manson Northwest Webster - Brody Eischeid (5-yard pass from Alex Bush), 6:18 left third. Bush kick.
St. Edmond - Alex Mericle (1-yard run), :16 left third. McElroy kick.
Rushing - St. Edmond: Alex Mericle 36-183, Vinnie Harvey 9-30, Aaron McElroy 1-0, Team 2-(minus-2). Manson Northwest Webster: Brennan Thompson 16-78, Alex Bush 6-13, Eischeid 2-10, Ty Condon 2-2, Payton Rice 2-(minus-2),
Passing - St. Edmond: David Flattery 5-12-0-110. Manson Northwest Webster: Bush 14-29-2-171, Condon 0-1-0-0.
Receiving - St. Edmond: Landon Peed 3-77, McElroy 2-33. Manson Northwest Webster: Josh Markert 3-72, Eischeid 6-41, Thompson 3-41, Holden Fiedler 2-17.
"(The Cougars) were really crowding the line of scrimmage, so we were able to have some more success with our dropback passing plays," said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who posted career win No. 397 Friday. "We were a little inconsistent at times with our blocking, but Peed made a few good catches again, which really gives us a whole new dimension on offense."
Manson Northwest Webster (3-4, 2-2), which was unable to overcome four turnovers, foiled St. Edmond's potential shutout bid on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Alex Bush to Brody Eischeid with 6:18 left in the third. The Gaels answered right back with the knockout punch, however, marching 92 yards in 13 plays on their ensuing possession.
"We played physical and hard, but a couple of big plays by Peed kind of set the tone," said MNW head coach Jeff Anliker, who previously served as SEHS head coach from 1999-2001. "Other than that, I thought both teams were pretty evenly matched."
Peed was the top receiver for the Gaels, hauling in three catches for 77 yards.
Defensive standouts for St. Edmond were Vinnie Harvey (three sacks), Peed (interception), McElroy (interception), Matt Stumpf (fumble recovery) and Teddie Harvey (fumble recovery). The Gaels have now forced 20 takeaways this season.
"I thought Manson was lot better than last year, and this was a really tough game for us," Tighe said. "We never really seemed to be quite out of the woods. Our guys just had a difficult time putting them away."
Bush, who came in fourth in 1A in total passing yards, went 14-for-29 through the air for 171 yards, including a long of 58 to Josh Markert on what appeared to be a broken play late in the contest.
Brennan Thompson sparked the Cougar ground charge with 78 yards on 16 totes. Thompson's best run came on an 18-yard jaunt - off a fake punt - on Manson Northwest Webster's scoring drive.
"We definitely needed this victory to stay in second place in the district, so we can get a first-round home playoff game," said Tighe. "I was pleased with how we bounced back after last week's hard loss."
St. Edmond welcomes Sioux Central (3-4, 1-3) on Friday for its final district action. Next up for Manson Northwest Webster is a road game at Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto (3-4, 0-4).