Bethlehem Academy football

The Bethlehem Academy football team travels to take on Fillmore Central 7 p.m. Friday. (Mike Randleman/Faribault Daily News)

3-and-out with the Fillmore Central Falcons

- Fillmore Central is coming off a 4-5 season ending in a 25-12 loss to Southland in the Section 1A quarterfinals. It was the Falcons’ first losing season since 2014. They’re a senior-laden bunch in 2019 with 12 seniors.

- Friday’s 7 p.m. matchup 100 miles southeast in Harmony is a Mid Southeast district crossover matchup. FC is in the Blue subdistrict and BA is in the White. This is the two teams’ first meeting since Sept. 2, 2011 when FC won 31-14 in Harmony.

- The Falcons made upgrades to their home Del Elston Field. There is a new crowned grass playing field with a new watering system, new lights, a new grandstand and moving an adjacent baseball field, among other changes.

When the Cardinals have the ball

FC has pretty good size on the lines, and could have up to three 250-pounders getting snaps on offense. On defense, the Falcons run a 4-4 formation similar to the Cardinals. They allowed 385 yards of offense to United South Central (276 rushing) in a 41-7 home loss and 350 (265 rushing) in a 34-13 loss at Goodhue (2-0) in a tough opening stretch. Goodhue, a top-10 team from 2018, outscored FC 13-0 in the fourth quarter to pull away late.

BA is averaging 203.5 rush yards per game led by 95 a night from lead back Josh Oathoudt.

Despite just 14 and 18 points in the Cards’ first two games, they’ve managed a respectable 281 yards of offense per game and had a touchdown wiped away thanks to a holding call last week vs. Rushford-Peterson.

After one quarter at Mayer Lutheran, BA was down 20-0 and after one quarter vs. R-P it was down 14-0. That spells trouble for a run-based team that uses quarterback, fullback and halfback to try to create deception in the backfield.

BA is 7-for-25 passing for 136 yards this year.

When the Falcons have the ball

Under center is new junior quarterback Zach Haugerud. He broke his hand late last season, disallowing him from receiving backup reps. He’s healthy now and will lead a spread, pass-heavy offense.

Against Goodhue, he was limited to 9-for-24 passing for 159 yards with two touchdowns and three picks. He found receiver Cory Brown for a 57-yard score and running back Carson Kiehne for a 13-yarder.

Kiehne is listed at 5-foot-8, 150 pounds and offers speed out of the backfield. Fullback Hadrian Williams (5-11, 220) offers more power. The Falcons have just 56 yards of total rushing this season.

The BA defense has gotten better as games have gone on this season and, particularly against R-P, had to protect a lot of short fields. The Cardinals are allowing 445.5 yards per game and 300 on the ground.

Key to the game

Don’t make life easy on the opponent. While BA had just one turnover against R-P, it was a pick-six that helped the Trojans seal the win. The Cards also had a turnover on downs in their first drive in that game that killed momentum from a recovered fumble on the opening kickoff. Against Mayer Lutheran, five turnovers resulted in a pick-six and short fields.

If BA can keep from harming itself, it can avoid an early hole and play more of its own game in a battle of two teams starving for a win before subdistrict play begins in week 4.

Coach says

”It’s kind of the same story as the past couple weeks. Minimize the mistakes. We moved the ball I thought pretty well last week, but some key situations we kind of shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and stops of drives.” — BA head coach Jim Beckmann

Reach Sports Editor Mike Randleman at 507-333-3119 or on Twitter @fdnmike.

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