(Neola) -- One of the key small class football battles this upcoming Friday night pits KMAland No. 4 Tri-Center against No. 3 IKM-Manning.
Both teams advanced to last year’s state playoffs, and both teams will look a bit different from 2019. From the Tri-Center perspective, they will have to replace record-breaking quarterback Bryson Freeberg.
“That’s going to be the first thing people go to,” Coach Ryan Schroder admits. “He’s excelling at Morningside and doing his thing, but we pulled Jaxon (Johnson) in and said, ‘Here’s the keys.’”
Johnson – a junior – played sparingly behind Freeberg last year, finishing with 72 passing yards on nine attempts. The good news for him, though, is that he will have plenty of help around him. Namely up front.
“Pretty much our whole line is back,” Schroder said. “We’ve moved some guys around up there and are averaging 245-250 across the offensive line. I feel everything starts up front. If you can get a stout line, I feel good things are going to happen.”
Six-foot-three, 300-pound senior Alex Ausdemore is a returning all-state player for the Trojans, but he’s hardly alone. Senior Tristan Vorthmann and sophomore Kent Elliott are a pair of others that should help secure opposing defenses and create plenty of openings.
That’s going to be vital in this matchup with IKM-Manning, as Coach Tom Casey’s team figures to bring another physical game to the Trojans.
“(Offensive coordinator) David Carlson and I were talking to the kids,” Schroder said. “IKM is the most physical game we played (in high school). They’re good old tough country boys, and they’re going to punch you in the mouth. We expect a dog fight and will need to come out and play really hard.”
The Wolves and Trojans last played in 2017 when IKM-Manning won 40-14. Not a lot has changed for them over the years. As Schroder mentioned, they want to punish you up front and attack with their power running game that figures to be led by senior Kyler Rasmussen, who rushed for 937 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
“They’ve got some speed and some power,” Schroder noted. “They are going to be really good up front. If we can take advantage of our big guys with Alex and Tristan, control the line of scrimmage and keep their speed in check, I think we will be OK.”
Kent Poncelow will have reports from the Tri-Center/IKM-Manning non-district matchup on Friday evening. Hear all of our coverage on AM 960 and FM 99.1, beginning at 6:20 PM.