Hawks, Tigers, Warriors, looking to advance past semifinal roundOne of the most impressive aspects of Howard’s quarterfinal-round upset win over Kimball/White Lake Monday was how the Tigers reacted to losing starting running back Cole Potter.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
One of the most impressive aspects of Howard’s quarterfinal-round upset win over Kimball/White Lake Monday was how the Tigers reacted to losing starting running back Cole Potter.
Potter, the team’s leading ball carrier heading into last week’s game, went down early in the first half with a knee injury and did not return.
Although Howard coach Pat Ruml is uncertain of Potter’s status headed into the 9AA semifinal game today against Clark/Willow Lake — which is at 6 p.m. in Clark — the head coach knows his team will be more prepared without the 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior if he cannot play.
“Overall, it was a great job by the rest of our team to not panic,” Ruml said Friday afternoon about the Tigers’ 38-34 win over Kimball/White Lake, the playoff’s 9AA top seed. “Right now, offensively, we’re trying to get a few guys in some new places since Potter got hurt,” Ruml said. “We don’t know for sure his status, so we’re working some new guys in that wingback position and linebacker.”
Potter, who will be a game-time decision and is also one of the team’s top tacklers as a starting linebacker, has 63 rushes for 934 yards on the season. In rushing yardage, he trails only sophomore fullback Luke Loudenburg, who has 153 rushes for 1,202 yards. Loudenburg was the standout Monday night, tallying 40 carries for 278 yards.
Evan Donahue also has been a factor in the backfield for the Tigers, accounting for 714 yards on 85 carries this season. Besides Howard’s strong rushing attack, quarterback Landon Laible has completed 46 of 68 passes on the season for 591 yards.
“I think our line decided to take control of the game,” said Ruml, whose team is 8-2 and has only losses against 2011 state champions Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan and Canistota.
Clark/Willow Lake (9-1) opened its season with a 34-14 loss to Hamlin. CWL is the fourth seed in the playoffs. It defeated Tri-State 41-34 in the first round of the playoffs and knocked off White River 36-26 in the quarterfinals.
“They’ve got a good running game, too,” Ruml said. “But they like to throw it quite a bit. They’ll go four-wide and have a really good wide receiver in (Torrey) Kolden, who catches everything. Their quarterback (Tyson Jenkins) is 6-foot-5, 215 pounds and he has a cannon. He’s throwing the ball all over the place.
“Basically, they run a bit of everything, so we have to be ready for all of their formations.”
Howard last qualified for the state semifinals in 2009, when it went on to win the Class 9AA state championship against Emery/Ethan.