by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Rogers Royals must slow down a potent Delano offense to capture a third straight trip to the state football to tournament.
The top-seeded Royals and No. 2 seeded Tigers, each 8-1, will duel at 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Cloud State in the Section 5AAAA finals.
“I don’t know if they are the best offense we’ve faced,” said Rogers coach Marc Franz, “because there are a lot of good teams in the Mississiippi 8, too. But we will find out Saturday.”
Delano has lost only to Glencoe-Silver Lake, the No. 5 ranked team in Class 3A, by 35-28 in the regular-season finale. In the sectional they had a bye, then drubbed Becker 41-14.
The Tigers average 34 points. Quarterback Cody Mathisen has thrown 16 touchdowns passes to five receivers. On the ground Bryan Sinkel has 13 touchdowns and Mathisen 10. They are a T-formation belly series run-based team, and will spread the field when needed to throw.
“Their quarterback is very fast and will challenge the edges, and he’s a strong and accurate passer, especially dangerous on the deep pass,” said Franz. “And they have two very good running backs.”
Sinkel has rushed for 704 yards, Mathisen 576, and Zach Checkal 366. They’re attempted no field goals, although Checkal is reliable (25-for-28) on extra points.
Defensively the Tigers have made 31 quarterback sacks, led by Aaron Klaers with 10.5, and 12 interceptions.
Merrill Pavlovich, Delano coach, said he’s concerned with Rogers’ size and speed.
“They have a well rounded offense. They attack both the middle and the edge,” Pavlovich said. “Their offensive lineman are very mobile and the linebackers on defense fill and run extremely well.”
To win, he said, the Tigers must “limit Roger’s number of possessions, minimize our turnovers and penalties, and capitalize on scoring opportunities.”
Roger scores mostly on the ground with Jack McGuire notching 10 touchdowns, Kyle Williams nine and Matt Weber eight. Weber has passed for 636 yards and three touchdowns. McGuire has rushed for 725 yards and Williams 676.
Defensive leaders are linebackers Clayton LeVasseuer (93 tackles, 12 for loss) and Austin Deroin (66 tackles, 13 for loss, seven sacks) and lineman Cyrus Biah (64 tackles, 11 for loss, 7.5 sacks), along with Andrew Smith with seven interceptions.