The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Sidney and Lexington prepare for another Friday of wet weather, tough football

 


Last Friday at Alliance the Bulldogs hosted the Lexington Minutemen football squad in similar weather conditions as those faced by McCook and Sidney at Weymouth Field the same night.

While Weymouth Field appeared to hold up well under the adverse weather conditions, the Minutemen were not so lucky at Alliance.

"There was a huge mudhole from the 40-yard line to the 20 on the south side of the field," said Minutemen Head Coach Jeff Rowan. "We seemed to get stuck in that spot quite a bit so it wasn't fun."

With more bad weather expected Friday night for Lexington's date with the Red Raiders on Sidney's ground at 6 p.m., both the Raiders and Minutemen hope the field performs as it did last week.

Though the conditions last Friday against McCook were a recipe for a high-turnover game, neither McCook or Sidney gave up the football. By contrast, Alliance and Lexington combined for 22 fumbles in the Dogs 13-8 victory. Alliance lost eight and Lexington five.

"We'll have to be conscious of our footing, but our style won't change," Raiders Head Coach Todd Ekart said. "We'll go right at them as we always do."

Though the Minutemen (2-3) defeated the Raiders 24-6 on their home ground last season, it's already an old lesson that Sidney (3-2) is a much different opponent now. From a personnel standpoint, Lexington is much the same as it was in 2012.

A couple of significant changes for the visitors, however, are the loss of two quarterbacks to injury. Tyson Block suffered a concussion recently and was not in action at Alliance. Back up Ted Berke also was lost to a concussion. He was felled in the second half against the Bulldogs last week.

Stepping in for Lexington will be senior Morgan Ansbach. Block may be able to suit up by Friday but will be unlikely to start. Berke will not be in uniform.

"Morgan can run our whole offense," Rowan said. "He's a better runner than the other two, so with him on the field it actually opens it up for us a little bit."

As they have in recent weeks, the Raiders will face a team that operates from the spread on offense. In dry conditions they are likely to throw more than Sidney. But with Ansbach's running skills the Minutemen may not pass as much as they usually do--although last week Ansback turned a broken play into a 91-yard touchdown pass to Eric Lemus.

"We'll change some blocking rules but we won't change a lot," Ekart said. "We've had success facing spreads so it's not new to us."

On defense, Lexington often operates with a three-man front. As the Raiders effective running game is no secret, the box will often times get pretty crowded.

"We've seen (Chance) Anglin on film and he can really run," Rowan said. "Of course we've known about the (Logan) Lewis kid for a couple of years now and we know what he can do. They're like thunder and lightning. That's what we call them."

In order to stop the Raiders' backfield duo, they'll attempt the same approach as other Sidney opponents.

"We're going to try and get more people at the line and more bodies at the point of attack," Rowan said.

In addition to Ansbach at quarterback, the Minutemen feature seniors Arliss Alvarez and Patrick Spicer. Though both are receivers Spicer has also had success running the ball out of the backfield.

"We'll try to get them the ball a lot," Rowan said.

As Ekart noted, Ansbach has often been shuffled into the lineup, so he's not a stranger on film.

As for special teams, Ekart says he has heard a lot from the community about his practice of not putting a man back to field punts.

"Last year we just weren't very good at catching them or we fumbled them. And not a lot of guys wanted to go back and catch them anyway," Ekart said. "When we did catch them we too often had illegal blocks in the back and that sort of thing."

Ekart added that while it's not the traditional approach he believed it was better for his team in the long run. Becasue he has confidence in his offense, the loss of 10 yards here-or-there won't be as damaging as turning the ball over in a critcal situation.

 

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