Superlarks are ready for a rematch in state football quarterfinals

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2013

GRAND MEADOW — The Grand Meadow football team will see a very familiar opponent when it plays in the nine-man state football quarterfinals at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall Saturday at noon.

The Superlarks (10-1 overall) will be playing Mountain Lake Area (11-0 overall), who GM beat 34-20 last season to get to the state semifinals. GM returns just a few starters from that game, but the Wolverines will look nearly identical as they still rely on their 6-6 quarterback Collin Kirk, who leads the team in passing and rushing.

Grand Meadow's Trenton Bleifus busts off a run in the third quarter against Mountain Lake Area in the Minnesota State Nine-man Tournament last season in Rochester. -- Herald File Photo

Grand Meadow’s Trenton Bleifus busts off a run in the third quarter against Mountain Lake Area in the Minnesota State Nine-man Tournament last season in Rochester. — Herald File Photo

“It’s always nice when you know something about your opponent. We know a little bit about their strengths and what they’re the best at,” GM head coach Gary Sloan said. “They’re not real big (on defense), but they’re quick. They’re a lot like us and they get to the ball with multiple people. That’s going to be a challenge for us. We’ve got to be physical.”

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GM has evolved into a run first, second and third team this season after trying to balance the offense last season, but that doesn’t mean the Larks can’t air out it when necessary.

GM senior quarterback Trenton Bleifus has thrown for 1,165 yards, 11 TDs and 5 interceptions, but he’s also run for 587 yards and 16 TDs. On defense, Bleifus has made the move from the secondary to linebacker and he has 78 tackles and three interceptions.

“I’ve enjoyed the change and I think it’s better for the team,” Bleifus said. “I’ve been trying to get someone to get me closer to the ball, because we’ve got good secondary players and it helps with me being closer to the ball.”

Bleifus made the defensive switch after GM lost to Lanesboro 47-36. GM also put freshman Blake Benson in at defensive tackle, moved Wyatt Richardson to defensive end and moved Cody Ojulu to safety after that game.

The moves have worked as GM has yielded just 10.6 points per game since it made the switch.

“We had talked about doing (those changes) earlier, but I didn’t want my quarterback playing linebacker,” Sloan said. “After (the Lanesboro) game we decided we had to roll the dice and hope Bleifus remains healthy.”

GM’s defense will be asked to stop a very versatile Mountain Lake offense on Saturday. The Wolverines run plays out of the I-formation, the spread, and the wildcat formation. ML can air it out, but it can also grind it out on the ground.

Sloan said his defense handled the passing games of Houston and LeRoy-Ostrander well during the season and he thinks they should hold their own this week.

“We’ve got good athletes back there. You’ve just got to make sure you tackle well on the short passes,” Sloan said.

GM has a long trip to Marshall and the Larks are planning on practicing in Marshall Friday and staying overnight, so they don’t have to make the drive on the same day they play.

Bleifus, who is a senior, isn’t feeling any nerves yet.

“It feels great to be here again. Hopefully we’ll win this and win the next to and get the state championship,” he said. “Coaches have done a good job to get us prepared for them so far. It’s the beginning of the week and they’ve got a good game plan already.”

The winner of the Grand Meadow-Mountain Lake game will take on the winner of Ada-Borup and Kittson Central at the Metrodome in Minneapolis Nov. 15 at 9 a.m.

Follow @RockyHulneADH on twitter for live updates of the game Saturday.