By Jeff Arenz
MARSHALL - Containing the offense of Class 4A No. 2-ranked Waseca will be a huge challenge for Marshall's defense today.
The Bluejays (8-0 overall) bring an offensive average of 39.3 points per game into a Section 2 Tournament semifinal contest against the 6-3 Tigers.
Kickoff for this postseason clash is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Waseca.
The biggest nemesis for MHS will likely be Bluejays' senior quarterback Thomas O'Neil, who is Waseca's top passer and rusher. He has completed 77 of 141 passes for 1,301 yards and has run for 1,255 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.
O'Neil has been described as a playmaker who depends on using his footwork to keep plays alive. Limiting his mobility is the key to shutting him down.
The Bluejays' second-leading rusher is Dylan Hermansdorfer, who has 218 yards on 43 carries. Lucas Johnston is Waseca's featured receiver with 32 catches for 538 yards. Jacob Laube has caught 17 passes for 374 yards, while Tyler Kolander has added eight receptions for 151 yards.
Linebackers Jason Polzin, Reece Winkleman and Collin Reilly; defensive linemen Chase VanKeulen, Hunter Greve and Tyus DeBoer; and defensive backs Andrew Hmielewski, Brad Bahlmann, Max Roelfsema and Sam Marshall are among the Tigers' top tacklers and will be looking to stop O'Neil and his teammates.
The Tigers average 27.3 points on offense and 14.8 points on defense. The Bluejays average 17.1 points on defense.
Waseca has amassed 3,312 yards of total offense (414.0 yards per game), while Marshall has allowed 2,597 total yards (288.5 yards per game). The Tigers have piled up 3,543 yards of total offense (393.6 yards per game).
Bahlmann and Marshall are key weapons in the MHS offensive attack.
In contrast to O'Neil's rushing production, Bahlmann, Marshall's quarterback, and Marshall, the Tigers' top running back, have combined for 228 carries for 1,438 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.
Bahlmann has 117 rushing attempts for 755 yards and eight touchdowns, while Marshall has 111 ground chances for 683 yards and seven touchdowns.
Bahlmann is 59 of 103 through the air for 863 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
Marshall's Jack Bock has added 285 yards and three touchdowns on 56 carries. Marshall has been the top receiver for MHS, hauling in 29 receptions for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Hmielewski has contributed 22 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns.