Wildfire beset by numerous injuries
Every team has two goals during the playoffs -- keep winning and stay healthy.
Mott-Regent has stayed true to the winning part, but the injury bug struck at an inopportune time. The Wildfire travel to Crosby for a rematch against No. 2-ranked Divide County in the quarterfinals of the 9-man playoffs at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
"We are going to go in there with a beat-up bunch of guys," Mott-Regent head coach Ron Benson said. "That's the nature of the beast. You want to stay healthy and right now we're not."
The Wildfire (8-2) lost to Region 4 opponent Divide County 28-6 on Oct. 7. Benson said beating the Maroons without a healthy lineup is going be a challenge.
"It was going to be difficult anyways with everybody healthy, being banged up its going to be extremely difficult," Benson said.
Though the final score during the regular season was low for both teams -- Mott-Regent averaged 32 points a game and the Maroons scored 45 a contest -- Divide County (10-0) head coach Nathan Nelson expects the final outcome to be much different this time.
"Generally when you see a rematch between teams, the games are a lot higher scoring," he said. "Both offenses know firsthand what their strengths and weaknesses are against the opponent. They don't have to experiment during the game and find out what works and what doesn't."
Mott-Regent is headed into this rematch without its three starting linebackers -- Logan Haberstroh, Jacob Greff and Tanner Vesledahl -- and two other defensive contributors, which could make for a long day for the Wildfire.
"I don't know if we can stop anything on defense," Benson said. "We're just going to have to control the ball on offense the best that we can."
Passing is Mott-Regent's specialty and senior quarterback McCahen Schweitzer continues to put up big performances. He had 281 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-20 win over Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood in the first round.
"It's probably going to be all passing," Benson said. "Our line is going to have to give McCahen some time."
Schweitzer's favorite target is senior wide receiver Chad Mosbrucker. He tallied 161 yards on 10 catches and two touchdowns against MLS.
The rushing attack was never thought to be the highlight of the team, though it did create some solid yards.
The Wildfire average 118.4 yards per game on 28 carries. However, the trio of Haberstroh, Greff and Vesledahl made up 102.5 yards and 19.5 carries per game and combined for 12 touchdowns.
The Wildfire will look to junior Taylor Zentner, who now has the most experience in the backfield with 160 yards on 45 carries and four touchdowns.
"We're going to need to play really well on offense," Benson said. "Mosbrucker, Schweitzer and Taylor Zentner, they are going to have to make some plays."
Divide County makes no secrets about its offensive game plan.
The Maroons run the ball and run well in part to a large offensive line. Their offensive line averages 235.5 pounds and just two of the lineman are under 6-foot tall.
"We want to run the ball," Nelson said. "We have a big, physical line. We've got a pretty good size advantage over the guys from Mott. We want to be able to run the ball and control the clock a little bit."
The Wildfire has a disadvantage with key defensive and offensive players out, but Benson points to one bright spot -- his team's experience.
"Positives are some other people are going to get experience -- kids that will be playing the next couple of years," he said.