Football: State quarterfinal preview
There is no huge secret in how to stop the Providence Academy Lions' offense. The Lions rely heavily on senior halfback Marshall Klitzke.
Klitzke has scored eight touchdowns in three section playoff games, including a Herculean effort of 378 yards on 31 carries and five touchdowns in the Lions' 55-20 trouncing of Breck in week two of the playoffs.
Klitzke did not rush for 1,000 yards in the regular season. He fell short by 54 with a total of 946 on 136 carries--an average of seven yards per carry, including 13 touchdowns.
However, in three playoff games, he is only 200 yards short of his season total, five touchdowns short of what he did in eight games, and on the season, his numbers of 1,692 yards on 216 carries and 21 touchdowns, averaging 153.8 yards per game make him clearly the man to stop.
The top-ranked team in 3A St. Croix Lutheran (11-0), a possible opponent in the next round for either Perham or Providence Academy, was the only team to keep Klitzke in check. In fact, the Crusaders kept the entire Lions team in check en route to a 52-6 massacre in the first game of the season.
The Lions were held to 14 yards on 22 rushes for a miniscule .6 yards per carry. Three passes for 20 yards gave Providence Academy (9-2) only 34 total offensive yards for the game.
Since then, Klitzke has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in every game and the Lions have lost only once more to DeLasalle, 27-7, September 30.
St. Croix Lutheran averages nearly 500 yards per game in total offense, but face a tough test in the #2 ranked school in 3A, the Plainville-Elgin-Millville Bulldogs (11-0). The game will be played at Lakeville North.
The Crusaders have outscored their three playoff opponents 168-19. The smallest margin of victory of St. Croix Lutheran was 13 points over DeLasalle in mid-September.
Plainview-Elgin-Millville escaped a second round playoff scare narrowly defeating the Kasson-Mantorville KoMets 26-20.
P-E-M opened the playoffs with a convincing 42-14 victory over Cannon Falls and took the Section 1AAA title game 38-8 over Stewartville in Elgin.
The winner of Perham and Providence Academy will have their hands full containing either of the two top-ranked 3A schools in the state semi-finals at Metrodome next weekend.
Perham enters state play winners of six straight and seven of eight.
The Yellowjackets do not typically blow out teams. They are averaging 26.5 points per game, while allowing 19.4.
Mostly behind Jordan Hein, the team rushes for 206.2 yards per game and Hein will throw enough to keep opposing defenses honest averaging 122.9 yards per game.
The Yellowjackets have outscored their opponents this season in the first, third and fourth quarters by margins of 78-46 in the first, 54-21 in the third and 76-59 in the fourth quarter. Their one weak spot has been the second quarter where opponents have put up just five more points, 81-76.
The offense will depend on Jordan Hein and Gabe Pankonin. The duo has combined for 178 of Perham's 291 points scored.
Hein eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing and passing in the regular season and has become a premier player not only in the section, but also in the state.
Jesse Hein and Payton Jordahl have led the team defensively with 90 and 86 tackles, respectively.
Ty Haverland and Dan Ingebrand have made important stops in key game situations. Jesse Wunderlich has made big strides as the season has transpired and will keep defenses wary of his presence on the right side.
Receiving could be the only area the Yellowjackets (QRF-16) are not at 100 percent. With Eric Brauch missing from the line-up and both Pankonin and Josh Nordick two weeks out from concussion symptoms, Perham may need a big contribution from Matt Shipman or Tyler Glines, who have both proven they can get in the end zone.
Providence Academy provides a stiff test in the fact they have a legitimate threat on offense any anytime in Klitzke, not unlike Jordan Hein.
Getting past the Lions (QRF-14) puts target hairs on either of the two best teams in the state, according to the polls.
St. Croix Lutheran (QRF-2) has yet to be tested. Plainview-Elgin-Millville (QRF-5) will certainly battle hard to remain the only undefeated team in Class 3A. No matter how that game transpires, if Perham advances, they will face a 12-0 team to battle for a spot in the state championship game.
Game time for the state quarterfinal is at 5 p.m. at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud.