MAYER – They might not be the big schools that everyone talks about, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play. When Mayer Lutheran and Blooming Prairie meet on the gridiron Friday night, they’ll do so as two of the top teams in Class A.
The Awesome Blossoms are a perfect 6-0 on the season coming into the matchup against the Crusaders. Not only are they undefeated, but they’ve dominated their opponents in every aspect this season thus far. They’ve outscored their opponents 258 to 37, and have scored 40 or more points in every game but one this season.
The Awesome Blossoms feature a dual-threat quarterback that is a nightmare for opposing defenses. Seth Peterson is a guy for the Awesome Blossoms who can hurt you in so many ways. Through the air, he’s thrown for almost 1,500 yards already, and has thrown for 25 touchdowns in just six games.
Last week against Hayfield, Peterson threw just 10 times. He completed nine of those passes, and five of them went for touchdowns. He finished with 191 yards passing, as the Awesome Blossoms can score in a hurry.
Gabe Hagen is one of Peterson’s top targets in the passing game. In Blooming Prairie’s win over Hayfield last week, Hagen hauled in three catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Hagen and Peterson connected for one touchdown pass last season in the win against Mayer Lutheran, while Peterson also had a rushing touchdown.
While the Awesome Blossoms feature multiple weapons on offense, their defensive line is just as good. With a strong four-man front, Mayer Lutheran will be in for a battle in the trenches to try and get their running game going.
After struggling a bit with the inside running game earlier this season, Mayer Lutheran found their stride last week against Bethlehem Academy. They ran for 329 yards last week against the Cardinals, led by a monster night from Zander Flucas. In the big win, Flucas had 25 carries for 194 yards and four touchdowns.
Mayer Lutheran will certainly be looking to keep Flucas rolling against the Awesome Blossoms Friday night. If they can get the run game going early, that will open things up even more for Baden Noennig and the dangerous passing game for Mayer Lutheran.
Typically a run-first offense, the Crusaders have shown they’re not afraid to throw the ball. Noennig is throwing it all over the place this season, and with playmakers on the outside like Mitchell Thiesfeld, Austin Crown, and Mark Masters, it should be no surprise that they like to throw the ball.
Mayer Lutheran has thrived on big plays this season through the air and on the ground. With their toughest task to date coming up this Friday, the Crusaders will need to remain patient and not get frustrated if the big plays aren’t there.
“Mayer will be a good test for our kids as they are very balanced on offense to be able to run the football behind a big offensive line and a very good back in Flucas, and being able to throw it with Noennig,” Blooming Prairie coach Chad Gimbel said. “On the defensive side of the ball, they are very aggressive and very sound schematic wise, so every yard will have to be earned.”
These two teams met once last season in a thriller of a game. Just when it looked like Mayer Lutheran was on their way to a nice road win, Blooming Prairie rallied late for two touchdowns, and converted a huge two-point conversion to top the Crusaders 28-27.
“I think it’s always great when we get to play a well-coached, fundamentally sound team, with very good athletes,” Gimbel said. “I believe it will really help both teams get prepared for the playoffs. I am certain, after the game, we will find areas where we will need to continue to improve and grow. We had a great high school football game with Mayer Lutheran last year, and I expect nothing less this year.”
Both teams come into the matchup after blowout wins last week. A win this week would be huge going forward as they close out the regular season on a short week due to MEA weekend.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Mayer between the Awesome Blossoms and the Crusaders.
For in-game updates, follow Kip Kovar on Twitter. @Kovar_HJSports