Southland football team is looking for another upset
ADAMS —When the Southland football team reached its bye week this season, the team was in need of a break.
The Rebels had lost six of their first seven games and they committed 29 turnovers over that stretch. When the Rebels had their week off, the pushed the reset button and since then they’ve been a different team.
Southland (3-6 overall) ended the regular season with a 29-8 win over Fillmore Central and it upset No. 2 seeded Rushford-Peterson 47-20 in the first round of the Section 1A football tournament.
“It seemed like there was a whole new energy and we had a whole new season with the playoffs,” said Southland wide receiver Alex Ruechel. “I think we just started having fun all of the time (after the bye).”
Ruechel is a veteran football player for the Rebels, but the team’s other two leaders don’t have quite as much experience. Senior running back Lukas Anderson came back to football this season after not playing for two seasons and sophomore linebacker Jackson Koenigs is learning his position on the fly.
“Lukas is just an athlete and he can make plays,” Southland head coach Shawn Kennedy said. “Alex has made a huge turn around and you can see the self confidence in himself. Jackson has a big body and he’s learning how to read and make plays. He can go sideline to sideline.”
Now that the Rebels have a little confidence under their belts, they’ll be looking to pull off another upset as they play at No. 3 seeded Faribault Bethlehem Academy (6-3 overall) Saturday at 7 p.m.
Anderson, who almost didn’t go out for football this season, said the Rebels couldn’t be much more relaxed as they look to knock off another higher seeded team.
“We’ve got nothing to lose, so we can just go out there and play 110 percent,” he said. “This is my last year and I knew there would be no second chance next year. I gave it a shot and Tuesday (against RP) was the most fun I’ve had playing football. The intensity was crazy.”
The Rebels, who have always been one of the top-seeded football teams in past seasons, are learning to embrace the role of being underdogs.
Koenigs said he’s looking forward to taking on FBA, which took second in the Class ‘A’ state football tournament last season.
“They lost a lot of seniors, but they’re a good team,” he said. “We’ve got to come out like we did on Tuesday and we’ve got to hit people and play hard.”
Kennedy said that when the team hit its bye week, his squad was ravaged with injuries and the team just needed a break from football for a little while. Since they came back, the Rebels have been rejuvenated and they’ve only had two turnovers in their past two games after giving the ball up so often early on.
More importantly, the Rebels are starting to play with a new sense of confidence.
“The kids are starting to believe and when you have that you can take kids with average ability and do many things with them,” Kennedy said. “We have a lot of kids that are above average ability and now all of the sudden we have very good players playing great and they’re expecting to make those plays. It spreads like wildfire.”