Gettysburg readies for semifinal against top-ranked CanistotaThe Canistota High School football team has a lot of reasons to be optimistic heading into tonight’s Class 9B semifinal.
By: Travis Mester, The Daily Republic
The Canistota High School football team has a lot of reasons to be optimistic heading into tonight’s Class 9B semifinal.
The Hawks are 10-0 this season and have outscored their opponents 503-30. Coach Lenny Schroeder’s team has not allowed more than 14 points in any game this season and only once — a 20-8 win over Hanson on Sept. 17 — has a game been decided by less than 44 points.
Canistota is the favorite when the Hawks host Gettysburg at 6 p.m. today, and the Battlers are aware.
“We know that a lot of the people out there have engraved the trophy in Canistota’s name already,” Gettysburg coach Vern Smith said. “We’re just excited to go out and see what we can do.
“If you’re going to win your division, you’ve got to play the best, so you might as well play them now.”
Gettysburg (8-2) is led by senior running back Blaine Schmidt, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound speedster that has racked up nearly 1,900 rushing yards this season. Senior Jeff DeVine quarterbacks the Battlers.
Schroeder said Gettysburg’s team speed is his biggest concern.
“They will probably be one of the faster teams we’ve faced,” Schroeder said of the Battlers. “We’ve got to contain (Schmidt) and force them to do some other things.
“We feel like we’re prepared for what they bring because teams like White Lake/Plankinton, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan and Gregory all are power teams that run similar sets to what we will see.”
Sophomore inside linebacker Eric Tieszen will be a key for the Canistota defense in stopping Schmidt and the Gettysburg run game. Tieszen leads the Hawks defense with 84 total tackles on the year.
Offensively for Canistota, not much is expected to change from what has gotten it 10 wins already this fall.
Star senior back Jeb Olsen has run for 1,500 yards on the year and is averaging 12.5 yards a carry. If the Battlers contain him, Troy Hofer has more than 700 yards rushing. Quarterback Sam Jolley also does a solid job running the option to go along with nearly 800 passing yards.
“We want to score quick and get them on their heels,” Schroeder said. “We haven’t added anything offensively since midseason. Our kids are pretty confident.”
Smith and Schroeder used to coach against each other regularly when Schroeder was in Selby earlier in his career. Smith said his staff is familiar with a lot of what Canistota does on both sides of the ball.
But the Hawks’ personnel are what worry him.
“When you’re talking 9B football, you don’t always see teams that don’t have weak spots like Canistota,” Smith said. “We don’t have much size, so we’ve used our team speed this season. That’s one thing that scares me about Canistota is their team speed; it will be a big challenge.”
In 2004, Gettysburg beat Canistota/Bridgewater in a Class 9AA quarterfinal.