TMP travels to No. 1 La Crosse
Published on -9/27/2012, 10:31 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
It's hard to find something negative to say about La Crosse's football team.
The Leopards are 4-0, are ranked No. 1 in Class 2-1A in the statewide media poll and feature arguably two of the best running backs in the state in senior running back Levi Morss and senior fullback Kip Keeley.
La Crosse finished one play short of winning the Class 2-1A state championship last season, and since 2006, La Crosse has had just one season where the Leopards lost a regular season game, going 65-8 since then, counting playoffs.
"They are a solid team with a lot of tradition that plays aggressive and physical every single play," Thomas More Prep-Marian football coach John Montgomery said.
So as the Leopards prepare to face TMP at 7 p.m. Friday in La Crosse, Leopards fourth-year head coach Jon Webster is prepared to point out the negatives in his team's game.
In the Leopards' 42-22 win against Plainville, La Crosse fumbled the ball six times and lost five of them.
"Those are the things that will come back and bite us," Webster said.
However, in that game, his players put up gaudy numbers.
Morss garnered national attention with his 19-carry, 356-yard, four-touchdown rushing total and was included in an article highlighting the top performances in the nation on maxpreps.com.
Keeley ran the ball eight times against Plainville for 128 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 49 yards.
So far this season, Morss already has 776 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, while Keeley has 293 yards and three touchdowns.
Montgomery said it will be a challenge to try and stop La Crosse's two-headed monster.
"The challenge is for us to be solid in our responsibilities and technique, play with low pad level, and have great form when we are making tackles," Montgomery said.
Meanwhile, the Monarchs are 1-3 and haven't won since Week 1 against Ellinwood.
They got a taste of a big runner last week against Ellsworth when the Bearcats 213-pound fullback, Trevor Miley, gashed them for 268 yards.
However, Montgomery said Morss and Keeley are on another level.
"It definitely gets you used to bringing down somebody with that size, but what Kip Keeley and Levi bring is a lot more speed to that mix and some more athleticism," Montgomery said. "You can say it was a nice warm-up, but they will bring it every single play."
While La Crosse had problems turning the ball over against Plainville, TMP has had turnover problems of its own.
The Monarchs have had 16 turnovers in four games.
While many of the turnovers against Ellsworth were situation-based with the Monarchs rallying from behind, it's still a problem the Monarchs must correct to be competitive, especially with teams such as La Crosse.
On paper, TMP's in its most difficult part of its schedule, with road games at La Crosse (4-0) and Phillipsburg (4-0).
"La Crosse is a top-tier team in the state," Montgomery said, "and as I've said in the past, it's a great opportunity for us to play top-tier competition to prepare us so when we reach districts, we are hopefully playing our best level of the season."
Meanwhile on paper, La Crosse has come out of its most challenging part of its season unscathed, defeating Ellis (2-2), Hoisington (2-2), Minneapolis (3-1) and Plainville (2-2) by a combined margin of 131-47.
However, Webster is quick to point out that its simply "on paper," and Webster said TMP will come to La Crosse hoping to upset the high-flying Leopards.
"They are a team offensively that has thrown and ran for a bunch of yards," Webster said. "They do a good job of taking what the defense gives them. Their coaching staff makes adjustments in games to put their kids in good positions."
"I expect them to come down with an upset on their mind," Webster added, "and we are going to have to play well to prevent that."