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ELC prepares for finale against No. 5 Spirit Lake

October 18, 2012
By David Swartz - Managing Editor , Estherville Daily News

For the Estherville Lincoln Central Football Team, the Midgets wrap up the regular season playing one of the best teams in the state as they take to the road to play Class 2A No. 5 Spirit Lake.

Indians' coach Josh Bolluyt will make sure his players don't overlook ELC as they head to the playoffs next week.

The Indians bring an impressive resume into the regular season finale with their 8-1 record. The only loss is to top-ranked Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley.

Spirit Lake has done its work with a powerful offense and maybe even a more powerful defense.

In its wins, the Indians haven't given up more than two touchdowns and many of those were after the game was already decided.

Bolluyt estimates perhaps 45 points were given up by his starting defense with 25 of those against Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley.

As the Indians prepare for ELC, Bolluyt looks for the Midgets to continue their balanced attack.

"They balance the running and the throwing, so we have to be sound on defense," he said. "Their (ELC's) special teams are explosive and defensively they get after teams."

For the Indians who are assured a playoff berth, sit atop the district with a 5-0 record.

Asked how they will use the ELC game to prepare for the playoffs, Bolluyt said his team's motto all year is to "close the gap."

"Every week we prioritize areas we want to improve on," he said. "I think our cohesiveness offensively and defensively have continue to improve. We just try to get better and what we're trying to do."

The Indians have 24 seniors on the roster so Bolluyt said it should be an emotional night.

"We're just looking for an opportunity to play," he said.

Meanwhile, ELC's seniors will see how well they can challenge Spirit Lake.

Comparing the Midgets' offensive numbers from a year ago, the yardage is similar but ELC has had more big plays.

The longest touchdown in 2011 was 24 yards.

This season quarterback Evan Hansen has connected with Matt Burrell on a 72-yard touchdown and Andres Blanco on a 71-yard touchdown reception.

Blanco also has scored on a 67-yard run while Billy Snyder has scored on a 45-yard run.

Fandel said ELC offense has given the Midgets some opportunities this season.

"But we haven't got the crucial stops on defense," he said.

The Midgets also will try to stay away from the turnovers. A year ago, ELC had five interceptions and two fumbles against the Indians.

"Every team seems to help them out," noted ELC coach Chuck Fandel. "They have good team speed and they create a lot of turnovers. Talking to the team, we have to shorten the game by keeping the clock moving."

Last year, Spirit Lake converted a first down on a fake punt and also recovered an onside kick early in the contest.

"We've worked on that part of the game this week," said Fandel. "We also need to step up on our open field tackles. They'll put pressure on us by getting the ball to a lot of people.

"They're an excellent ball club and we'll need our best game to stay competitive," he continued. "Our seniors are ready and shown heart and pride all season. They'll come ready to play."



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