Aurelia, Sentral battle again - for real
FENTON - As if the state record-holder for rushing in eight-man football isn't enough to worry about, third-ranked Aurelia now has to be concerned with a quarterback who tied a national high school record for most touchdown passes in a game.
It's like trying to pick the lesser of two evils. Needless to say, the Bulldogs' defense will have its hands full when they take on second-ranked Sentral of Fenton in a state semifinal game on Friday night at Fenton.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The two teams just met two weeks ago with Sentral coming away with a 40-35 win in Fenton. The Spartans faked a punt on their own 18-yard line and converted it into a first down to run out the clock and seal the win.
It was also a game in which Aurelia made several mistakes, which proved to be costly.
If the Bulldogs are going to advance to the eight-man state title game on Nov. 3, they better correct those mistakes this time around.
"We have to make less mistakes," Aurelia coach Myron Radke said. "We had more penalties and fumbled more and had an interception. We've never been near that bad before. If we don't make the mistakes, it'll be just one big shootout again."
Sentral features the all-time leading rusher in eight-man football in Kellen Madison. He cracked the 2,000-yard mark for the season with 90 yards on seven carries in a wild 96-52 win over Harris-Lake Park last Friday. He has 2,022 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns this season for the Spartans.
Madison has 4,510 career yards and scored 75 touchdowns.
But the Spartans unveiled a new wrinkle in a big way last week. Quarterback Dan Dacken completed 26 of 40 passes for 339 yards and a national-record tying eight touchdown passes.
That newfound offensive success has added more worries for Radke.
"Their passing game concerns us," he said. "Now we know that they can not only run but they can throw it at you, too. They had never done it before. We're trying to take away more of the running game. If they want to throw, go ahead. Their power is in their running game so they can control the ball. They're going to want to control the ball. We just have to be ready for both, but primarily the running game."
Still, Madison is the focal point of the Spartans' offense, and ultimately the one player the Bulldogs will need to contain.
"We're going to have to corral him and keep him inside," Radke said. "He's so strong and their fullback is so big. They're going to run right at you. We'll move some people around and give some people some rest. We're going to try to stay fresh on defense."
Radke talked about what his team needs to do in order to be successful on defense.
"We're going to have to read quicker and hit harder," he said. "Everything has to go up a notch in order to win it. We pretty much did it all year. I think we'll do it again. We have to go after them hard, and if we do, we'll have another shot at them."
How well Aurelia's defense plays will be the bottom line.
"If we can stop their offense," Radke said. "We've got to make them punt it a time or two. We can't let them score every time. We have to stop them occasionally."
Meanwhile, Aurelia's offense will have to score a lot of points to match Sentral's high-powered offense. The Bulldogs will try to accomplish that with a balanced attack.
"We want to mix it up as much as we can and keep them off-balance," Radke said. "They've got a good defense and there isn't a weak spot anywhere."