Game: New Prague at Northfield, 7 p.m., Friday, Memorial Field.
Last week: The Raiders lost a tough 30-28 game at Faribault, while the Trojans were blown out at home 53-14 by Mankato West.
Last year: New Prague piled up 14 fourth-quarter points to top Northfield 21-8 in last year’s regular-season finale at Memorial Field.
1. Entering the season, the Raiders needed to replacing almost the entirety of its passing production from a year ago. With the graduation of last year’s primary quarterback, Gavin Rataj, and No. 1 receiver, Daniel Monaghan, plus No. 2 receiver Cole Stanchina shifting to quarterback this season, the Raiders started the year with an unknown passing attack. After the first week, that picture is a little clearer. Senior Ethan Lanthier is the obvious downfield threat after he hauled in four receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which a 55-yarder in which Lanthier outran a pair of defenders on a go route and the second of which was an 11-yard fade route where the 6-foot-5 wideout easily out-jumped the defender. In the intermediate game, Stanchina found an early connection with senior Kip Schetnan, who in his first varsity football game grabbed six receptions for 71 yards.
2. Defensively, the Raiders were stout last Friday defending the pass — outside of a pair of costly coverage breakdowns in overtime that resulted in touchdowns. Where they were consistently most susceptible, however, was defending the run. The Falcons rushed for 143 yards in the win, and that’s with a number of sacks, fumbles in the backfield and bad snaps resulting in lost yardage weighing down the total. Faribault junior Elijah Hammonds led Faribault with 88 yards rushing, 33 of which came on an outside sweep on the first drive of the game and another 16 on a misdirection that resulted in a touchdown. As the game wore on and Northfield attempted to prevent Hammonds from breaking loose around the edge, quarterback Hunter Nelson started to keep the ball on read options and punish the Raiders up the middle. He finished with 31 yards rushing, but that number jumps to 62 yards when sacks and the plays in which Nelson had to fall on bad snaps are removed. Statistics available on mnfootballhub.com, that appear incomplete, show New Prague quarterback Matt Zweber did not attempt a rush in the first game of the season.
3. What the statistics do show from New Prague’s season-opening loss is that the Trojans struggled mightily offensively against the Scarlets. Zweber is credited with throwing for 123 yards in the loss, but 65 of those came on a touchdown pass to Ethan Cromy in the first quarter. Cromy’s three other receptions totaled three yards. The final touchdown for New Prague came in the dying moments of the fourth quarter, when both teams were featuring their second string players.
4. Defensively, New Prague didn’t provide Mankato West much resistance, either. Scarlet quarterback Zander Dittbenner completed 10 of 15 passes for 191 yards and four touchdowns in his first varsity start. On the ground, Mankato West running back Owen Johnson raced to 122 yards on only 11 carries.