Cardinals face Arrows in home opener

FAIRMONT – Mat Mahoney and his Fairmont gridders look to rebound from last Thursday’s season-opening 23-point loss to Big South Conference foe Jackson County Central.

Metaphorically speaking, the Cardinals play host to a Pipestone Area Arrows lineup – known for its rebounding prowess on the basketball court – during their 7 p.m. home football opener Friday night at Mahoney Field.

“When you watch them on film and look at their roster, you can see that they are a very tall and athletic team,” said Mahoney. “They are capable of hitting the home run (long-distance) play at any time in the game and we have to be aware of that fact.”

Ironically, three of the Arrows’ starting five on the hardwood court combined forces to account for both of their touchdowns during a 14-13 comeback victory over Redwood Valley during last Friday’s season-opener.

Quarterback Boyer Bouman, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard in basketball, threaded a 30-yard scoring strike to 6-2 wide receiver Brayden Baartman – a hybrid forward in hoops – to account for Pipestone Area’s initial TD of the fall.

Bouman later spotted 6-7 tight end Collin Moeller – the Arrows’ center in basketball – with an 8-yard TD pass to inch the green-and-white within 13-12 during the fourth quarter. Bouman then hit running back Daniel Larson for the eventual game-winning 2-point conversion pass.

“We converted a couple of big plays to take the lead with a little more than five minutes left in the game before our defense delivered a huge stop to hold on for the one-point win,” said Pipestone Area head coach Troy Bouman. “We played hard for four quarters, overcame a deficit late and found a way to win the game.

“Our kids did a great job of overcoming adversity.”

Fairmont, on the other hand, amassed 317 yards of total offense, but committed six penalties and three untimely turnovers to limit its point production against a highly-skilled Huskies team.

“After watching film, our opener was not as bad as you originally think, but then it wasn’t as good as you wanted it to be either,” said Mahoney. “We gave up six big plays for about 150 yards to Jackson (County Central), and you can’t do that against a good team and expect to win.”

Mahoney, however, did find positive aspects – like sophomore tailback Thomas Willett’s 70-yard TD sprint and senior tight end Ben Abel’s 32-yard scoring reception from quarterback Spencer Chirpich – to build on for this week’s clash with the Arrows.

“This will definitely be our biggest week of growth as we’ve had a chance to see ourselves on film, and now we’ll be able to evaluate what we did against an actual opponent,” said Mahoney. “I’m not making excuses, but not having a scrimmage did hamstring us a bit on putting the right pieces in the right places.”

While Mahoney said his team faces the challenge of eliminating penalties and turnovers during Week 2, Troy Bouman said his lineup faces a size disadvantage on the scales and Fairmont’s quick-strike ability.

“Jackson’s a very physical team, so film can be deceiving. We know Fairmont’s also a physical team, so we’ll have to stop the run and try to limit their big plays,” said Troy Bouman.

“We just need to continue to get better in our running game offensively, while defensively, we can’t give up the big play like we did last week. Our guys will have to make sure they wrap up on their tackles or it could be a long night,” said Mahoney.