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Indians, Knights vie for trip to the UNI-Dome

November 5, 2011
By David Swartz - Managing Editor , Estherville Daily News

SPIRIT LAKE - So far the Spirit Lake football team has looked like a juggernaut in making its way through the Class 2A playoffs.

The Indians shut out JSPC, Jefferson 42-0 in the opening round and this past Monday took down South Central Calhoun 42-7.

The defense obviously has been stifling while the offense continues to put up impressive points on the board.

On Monday, Spirit Lake faces likely its toughest test of the season against Kuemper Catholic of Carroll for the right to advance to the Class 2A Semifinals at the UNI-Dome.

The Indians were rated fifth in the final Radio Iowa Poll and third in the final Associated Press Poll. The Knights were rated seventh in the Radio Iowa Poll and fifth in the AP Poll.

In Kuemper's two playoff games, they opened with a 27-21 win over Sheldon and last week beat Central Lyon/George-Little Rock 20-7.

In beating Sheldon, senior running back Michael Strautman rushed 32 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Cole Neary was 8-of-14 passing for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Against Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, Strautman rushed 30 times for 220 yards and a touchdown. Neary only attempted six passes with two completions and two interceptions. Josh Irlbeck contributed 54 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Monday's game features the District 1 champions versus the District 2 champions. Both didn't drop a district game. Kuemper's only loss came in the season-opener to cross-town rival Carroll. Carroll was ousted from the playoffs by second-rated Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley in the second round on Monday.

For the season, Strautman leads the Knights with 16,72 yards and 21 touchdowns on 242 carries. Neary is 70of-122 passing for 1,089 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Spirit Lake coach Josh Bolluyt said Kuemper Catholic's rushing attack comes in part because of a good offensive line.

"They're good up front and they get a good line surge," Bolluyt said of the Knights.

"They're probably one of the bigger lines we've played. They're similar to Central Lyon as far as weight and height."

As with most playoff games, Bolluyt sees the key to the game as winning the battle in the trenches.

Defensively, Bolluyt said Kuemper Catholic has a good line with a couple of big physical linebackers.

However, Spirit Lake's attack plan won't change either.

"On offense, we'll just continue to diversify," he said.

While senior running back Luke Kabele leads the Indians with 907 yards and 13 touchdowns on 124 carries, the Indians' offense is predicated on a diversified attack.

The Knights can expect to see a variety of Spirit Lake players get to run or catch the ball.

Quarterback Paul Brown has completed 86 of 139 passes for 1,407 yards with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Four players, Zach Herrig, Rick Maris, Cody Poock and Bryson McCabe have caught at least 15 passes this season and account for 17 receiving touchdowns.

Spirit Lake makes the long trip to Carroll to take on the Knights, the first road game of the playoffs.

"That gives us a chance to put our feet up and put some of the distractions away," said Bolluyt.

He looks for a quality contest when the Indians reach their destination.

"They're a well-coached team and execute well," said Bolluyt. "They'll be the best team we've played this year. It will be a good game."



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