FAIRMONT — Four words were written on both the whiteboard in Fairmont head football coach Mat Mahoney’s office and on the pages of his practice agenda anchored on his clipboard.
1. Stay focused. 2. Play fast.
“Most coaches will agree — Homecoming week is a great tradition filled with numerous school-bonding activities, but sometimes we can all get a little distracted,” said Mahoney. “As we get closer to Friday night’s kickoff, we need to stay focused on the task at hand and that’s playing solid fundamental football.
“We also need to play the game at a much faster pace than we did last week.”
Fairmont (2-2) enters Friday night’s 7 p.m. Homecoming game at Mahoney Field on the heels of a 32-14 loss to Class 3A then-No. 10-ranked Waseca, while New Ulm (1-3) makes the 50-mile trip down Highway 15 after collecting its first win of the fall — a 42-32 comeback decision over Luverne.
In fact, the Eagles trailed the Cardinals 26-14 during the early stages of the fourth quarter before erupting for 28 points down the stretch to generate the first victory for first-year head coach Derek Lieser.
Ty Frederick, a junior running back, produced three touchdowns — 16, 15 and 12 yards, respectively — on the ground for New Ulm, while junior quarterback Ayden Jensen rushed for TDs of 4 and 16 yards before completing a 36-yard scoring strike to junior tight end Colton Benson with 1:24 remaining in regulation.
“One takeaway after watching New Ulm on film is we (coaching staff) think they’ve continue to improve from week-to-week as the players continue to adjust to a new coach and a new system,” said Mahoney.
Lieser, who’s the Eagles’ fourth head football coach in the last five years, will look to halt New Ulm’s current four-game losing streak against Fairmont. The Cardinals posted wins of 35-6 in 2021, 42-20 in 2020, 56-0 in 2018 and 42-7 in 2017, while the two members of the Big South Conference actually did not play in 2019, 2016 or 2015. Prior to this season’s first four games, New Ulm has compiled an 11-50 record from 2015-21.
“He (Lieser) looks like he uses a lot of formations on offense and that keeps opposing defenses on their toes, so that’s a plus,” said Mahoney.
After Waseca converted all four of its second-half possessions into touchdowns last Friday night in Waseca to overcome Fairmont’s 7-6 halftime lead, linebacker Aden Welcome, lineman Hank Artz and the Cardinals’ defense will look to make the proper adjustments this week in order to slow down Frederick and Jensen out of the backfield.
“We competed hard for the first half, but just ran out of gas during the second half,” said Mahoney. “Our fundamentals broke down at the end of the game.
“Now we need to heed (defensive coordinator) Brad Johnson’s saying, ‘Do your job.’ We didn’t last Friday night and it caught up with us. I think our guys are ready to stick to their assignments this week and get us back in the win column to celebrate Homecoming.”
Fairmont travels to Worthington on Friday, Oct. 7, while New Ulm plays host to Waseca on Thursday, Oct. 6.
Quarterback Blaze Geiger tossed two touchdown passes and rushed for another score to guide Fairmont to a 28-14 overtime victory over Waseca during junior varsity football action Monday night at Mahoney Field in Fairmont.
Tied at 14-all, Geiger scored on a 10-yard run during the Cardinals’ possession in overtime before tossing a 2-point conversion pass to Nolan Schultze for a 22-14 lead.
Ian Hatfield then returned Waseca’s ensuing fumble for a TD to cap the rare two-score margin of victory in the extra session.
The Cardinals, who improved to 5-0 overall, travel to New Ulm on Monday night for a 6 p.m. game.
Geiger connected on scoring strikes to Harmon Schrunk and Schultze during regulation, Jace Teveldal garnered an interception, while Hunter Johnson and Connor Gronewald each recorded seven tackles to pace Fairmont’s defense.
Big South Conference members Jackson County Central, Pipestone Area, Marshall and Waseca all merited a spot in the Minnesota Associated Press state football poll’s top 10, while area teams — Blue Earth Area and unbeaten Martin County West — made the ‘others receiving votes’ list.
JCC and Pipestone Area — both sporting 4-0 records — hold the respective No. 5 and 6 spots in Class 2A; Waseca climbed one spot to No. 9 rung on the Class 3A ladder; while Marshall settled into the No. 6 spot in Class 4A this week.
MCW (4-0) received eight points in the Class 1A rankings, while BEA (3-1) netted five in Class 2A.