FHS football hits road to St. Peter for Week 2

Jacob Rahn

FAIRMONT — St. Peter quarterback Wyatt Olson completed 16 of 25 passes for 255 yards and five touchdowns during the Saints’ season-opening 41-0 football victory over Sibley East last Thursday night in Arlington.

“We figured we’d be able to run the ball on them, but they (Sibley East) sent the house (defensively) to specifically stop our ground game,” said St. Peter head coach Brian Odland. “So, we capitalized on what they didn’t try to take away — passing.”

Wide receiver Ethan Volk proved the sure-handed recipient of Olson’s spirals, catching seven passes for 117 yards and two TDs, while tight end Josh Johnson grabbed three tosses for 52 yards and a score.

Now, senior cornerback Caden Baarts and the Cardinals’ 4-3 defensive alignment will seek to ground the Saints’ potent air attack when St. Peter plays host to Fairmont in a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday night at Floyd B. Johnson Field.

Baarts, a defensive stalwart on the Cardinals’ 2018 Class AAA state runner-up team last fall, perfectly defended three potential long-yardage passes during Fairmont’s season-opening 34-12 loss to Marshall last Friday night at Mahoney Field.

While the Cardinals limited the Tigers to 68 yards through the air last week, Fairmont’s then-5-2 defense did allow 298 yards on the ground to Marshall.

“Marshall possessed great size up front, and we’ll face a similar challenge physically against St. Peter this Friday,” said Fairmont head coach Mat Mahoney. “The Saints average about 240 pounds in the line, but they look on film like they want to throw the football.

“However, we’re aware first-hand that they can run the ball well, too, after last year’s sectional semifinal game.”

Indeed. St. Peter implemented a time-consuming ground-and-pound attack, with the 6-foot-6 Olson actually running for a number of critical drive-maintaining first downs to help the Saints build a 12-7 halftime lead. Fairmont’s defense, however, delivered a second-half shutout — including a blocked field goal in the third quarter — to prevail over St. Peter in the playoff clash, 21-12.

“We’re not looking back at last year’s sectional game, but focused on this week’s upcoming game,” said Mahoney. “Hopefully, we (coaching staff) were able to correct some mistakes we made after watching film on Monday.

“Two aspects we need to improve this week are running the ball better and creating turnovers on defense.”

Mahoney will turn to the sophomore trio of quarterback Zach Jorgensen, running back Gavin Rodning and fullback Tyson Kube to jumpstart the ground game, while senior end Zach Soelter and sophomore safety Eli Anderson will make their starting debuts in hopes of helping the Cardinals’ defense generate its first possession-changing gem.

“Fairmont always finds ways to explode offensively, so we need to stay discipline defensively,” said Odland, who received 11 tackles from middle linebacker Ryan Wilmes during St. Peter’s shutout over Sibley East. “We hope to establish more of a running game this week, so we’re more balanced than last week.

” … We can’t afford to give up big plays like we did during last year’s playoff game. I think our guys will be motivated to try to avenge that loss, especially since we’re not in the same class or section anymore.”