|11/4/2019 11:52:00 AM|
Lancaster next hurdle in Pointer playoff run
Friday's WIAA Level 2 match up in Division 6 between Mineral Point and Lancaster is shaping up to be a battle royale.
The Pointers will be playing to advance to the next level where they would face the winner of the Darlington vs Mondovi match-up. Lancaster will be carrying a grudge and will be aching to avenge a loss to the Pointers in the regular season ender for both teams that just happened to be for the championship of the SWAL.
The three time SWAL champion Pointers have no ideas about overpowering the Flying Arrows again and respect what Lancaster will bring to the stadium in Mineral Point.
"We have so much respect for Lancaster and we understand that it will be a challenge to beat them twice in one year," said Pointer head coach Andy Palzkill. "There is a lot at stake especially considering the playoff ramifications. Nobody wants their season to end and we know Lancaster will give us all they have this Friday night."
But with that respect comes a mission and the Pointers know it.
"We will need to respond by giving them all that we have and we will need to continue to raise our level of play," said Palzkill. "In order to earn a win in the playoffs, you need to grow as a team and take a jump in terms of improvement. We will be spending a great deal of time this week to improve our fundamentals and emphasizing playing as a team and playing physical football. At this point in the year, it is about being who you are as a football team."
The Pointers will be heading into the battle at full strength.
"We are fortunate to be very healthy," Palzkill said.
They will also be riding in on an impressive and overpowering 59-0 Level 1 win over Melrose-Mindoro with a 447 to 109 difference in total yardage. The Pointers were devastating on the ground where they rolled up 317 of their total.
Blaise Watters put a pair of scores on the board the first quarter with a 77 yard punt return and on a 47 yard pass from Isaac Lindsey. The Pointers came out of the frame with a 17-0 lead as Bo Hanson added a 29 yard field goal.
Will Straka started the second quarter scoring, finishing a drive with a six yard plunge. Liam Stumpf then carried in from the 14 before Straka turned in his second six yard scoring jaunt. Nolan Springer made it a 45-0 halftime lead with a 16 yard pick six.
Straka recorded his third touchdown of the night with a 19 yard run to start the third quarter. Brendan Lynch then got into the scoring act with the final touchdown for the Pointers on a 23 yard scamper.
Straka led the ground game with 10 carries for 105 yards. Dom McVay added 71 on seven attempts. The Pointers used five other backs for the rest of the yards.
The ground game was a combination of crisp blocking and hole finding runs. The decision to grind it out came with the Mustangs' defense.
"If teams play us with a six man box we want to run the ball. If teams play us with a seven man box we look to pass the ball," Palzkill explained. "Melrose-Mindoro gave us a 42 front so the running game was our focus."
Handling that comes with strong play by the offensive line.
"Our offensive line needs to be given credit for playing an outstanding game once again," said Palzkill. " I can't say enough about how their ability to recognize and block correctly gives us a huge advantage each week. Thank you again to Blake Wendhausen, Gabe Sporle, Justin Baehler, Mason Hughes, and Larry Steffes. They continue to allow us to play great offensive football."
Watters and Straka were two who benefited with the strong line play.
"Blaise and Will are tremendous football players and they are a big reason for our success," Palzkill said. "Blaise made many big plays against Melrose-Mindoro on both sides of the ball. Every time he touches the ball he has the ability to score. Will is very similar and has a physical running style that is also difficult to defend. We were able to control the line of scrimmage and Will was a big part of that with his ability to read blocks and break tackles."
The supporting cast was also dominant.
"Dominic McVay and Brendan Lynch also played very well this week," Palzkill added. "We are fortunate to have a number of young men we feel confident in giving the ball to at the tailback position."
With the game strongly in favor of the Pointers, Palzkill gave Stumpf some time at quarterback.
"Liam is an outstanding athlete and his understanding of our offense has continued to grow," Palzkill said. "He has been taking quarterback snaps since his freshman year and his speed gives us a different dimension at that position. We have complete confidence in Liam's ability and we respect the versatility he allows us offensively."
There is a third quarterback who has received time this season and provides a strong back-up.
"Joah Filardo also does a great job at quarterback," said Palzkill. "We are lucky to have a number of great athletes that understand our offense enough to play quarterback and also to play other positions and contribute as receivers and running backs."
And not to be overlooked was the shutout the defense authored against the Mustangs.
"Our defense is playing amazing football and that is the key to winning football games," Palzkill added. "Nolan Springer has been quietly having an amazing football season and he sparked us with a pick six on Friday night. We enjoy watching our kids have fun playing football and the fact that our kids love football was evident on his interception return for a touchdown. I am so proud of the fact the our young men just want to do their jobs and celebrate success with one another. Having fun and doing your job is the recipe for success for us moving forward and hopefully we can continue that type of team play moving forward in the playoffs."
Palzkill discussed the keys to handing a second loss this season to the Flying Arrows.
"As in any football game, eliminating mistakes will be the number one factor in winning this Friday night," he said. "We need to take care of the football and tackle well. If our young men can continue to do their jobs and play fundamental football we will be in good shape. Our focus this week will be to continue to focus on the little things and be very detailed in regards to our technique at each position. There are no secrets to success in football. If all of our athletes can do their job, we will have an opportunity to win this contest. We are excited to host Lancaster and look forward to a great environment and a. great game."
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