DELANO — On Delano’s schedule for Week 3 of the season is a road game Friday night at Holy Family.
Both teams enter with a 2-1 record.
Holy Family came back to defeat New London-Spicer 32-23 in Week 1. The Fire then fell 14-7 to Litchfield, and recovered last week with a 48-0 win over Watertown-Mayer.
“In the first three weeks, I have seen a lot of guys stepping up and making plays when we need them. It’s not just one or two players we rely on all the time,” said first-year Fire coach Tim Triplett. “The belief our players have in each-other is also very solid.”
Delano has been much-improved in its last two games, topping Little Falls (40-0) and Glencoe-Silver Lake (41-10).
The Tigers’ offense has been balanced over its first three games. Its rushed for nine touchdowns and thrown for nine touchdowns.
On the ground, Delano has rushed for 513 yards. Senior Sam Kern has seen the most carries. He’s toted the ball 45 times for 276 yards and two touchdowns.
Led by junior quarterback Max Otto, the Tigers’ passing attack has been lethal, so far. In three games, Otto has thrown for 624 yards and the nine touchdowns.
The passing game is benefitting from great protection up front and from having a plethora of receivers who can catch the ball and run.
Three receivers have 10-or-more receptions in three games.
Sophomore tight end Trey Longstreet has caught 11 passes for 148 yards and four touchdowns. Senior receiver Reno Bredahl has caught 10 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns. And Brett Unrein has caught 10 passes for 158 yards.
Kern and Christopher Glunz are also targets out of the backfield.
Bredahl has been a big-play receiver so far this season. Two of his touchdown catches went for more than 50 yards. Bredahl caught a 53-yard touchdown in the win at Little Falls, and hauled in an Otto pass for a 58-yard touchdown in the win over Glencoe-Silver Lake.
Bredahl had 120 yards and two touchdowns receiving against Glencoe-Silver Lake.
The threat Delano presents by air and land has opposing coaches on alert.
“Delano looks tough and systematic. They are very good at executing what they do. They are well coached- and the size they have has to be amongst the top in our league,” said Triplett. “We need to execute our game plan and take care of the football. We also need to reduce big-play opportunities for Delano.”
As for what Delano’s has to look forward to whenit comes to the Fire, a good team, according to Tiger coach Merrill Pavlovich.
“Experience at nearly every position,” he said. “One of the teams I picked to win the district.”
The Fire are athletic and have a veteran leading the team on the field.
“Excellent team speed and size, and they are led by a seasoned quarterback,” Pavlovich said. “Experience on both sides of the ball, with a very strong senior class.”
Jacob Zay is that quarterback under center for Holy Family for his third season.
Zay likes to run with the football. A season ago, he ran for a team best 803 yards and two touchdowns in nine games. He threw for 653 yards and three touchdowns.
Delano controlled Zay a season ago in a 26-7 win over the Fire. Zay ran for 74 yards and threw for 64 yards and one interception.
Behind Zay, Nick Hendler is in his second season as Holy Family’s top back. Hendler is a tremendous athlete. He ran for three second-half touchdown’s last week in Holy Family’s 32-23 comeback win over New London-Spicer on opening night.
Last season, Delano held Hendler to 31 yards rushing, and forced him to fumble.
Zay and Hendler will work behind the push of four-year offensive lineman Jackson Rushmeyer, who has D-1 talent, just like his older brother, Alex, who is a freshman walk-on at the University of Minnesota.
“Experienced group. Lack depth. Need to do a better job of moving the chains consistently,” said Chaska Herald Sports Editor Eric Kraushar.
Triplett is just the second coach in Fire history, but he has vast experience, having worked as an assistant at the University of St. Thomas and at the Division-I and Division-II levels.
“They have a new coach and seem to have adjusted to their new offensive scheme,” said Pavlovich. “They defeated a very good New London-Spicer team in their first game.”
While Triplett is in his first season at Holy Family, Pavlovich is in his 43rd season at Delano. Pavlovich recorded his 300th win last week in the victory over Glencoe-Silver Lake.