MANKATO — A few weeks ago, as Mankato Loyola football coach Kevin Mettler was talking about no longer having Le Center on the schedule, he started discussing which teams were possible replacements as the Crusaders’ main rival.
The first thought was Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial, a program of similar size, just a few miles apart, with an established connections through other sports.
“It’s a good fit for us,” Mettler said.
After the first week of the season, it seems that a rivalry has been created. Lasts season, the Crusaders eliminated LCWM 28-13 in the first round of the Section 2A playoffs, and the Knights got some revenge on Friday with a 42-6 victory. A rivalry is better when both teams have a chance to win.
“I think the fans like it, and the players get up for it,” LCWM coach Mike Schaffer said. “But you have to treat it like it’s just another game, and we’re trying to get better.”
Both Loyola and LCWM are Class A programs, though Loyola is playing in the Gopher Valley A Conference, while LCWM plays in the Gopher Valley AA Conference.
The teams are no longer in the same section, with the Knights moving to Section 3, but the teams are scheduled to play each other at least the next two years in the regular season, with next season’s game back at Lake Crystal.
LCWM hosts Maple River, another school rival that hasn’t been as competitive in football, on Friday, while Loyola hosts St. Paul Harding.
Mankato West coach Mark Esch said that sophomore quarterback Ryan Schlichte likely won’t play in Friday's Big Nine Conference game at Austin.
Last week, Schlichte, making his first career start, was hit by a falling blitzer and suffered a sprained left knee in a 35-0 victory over New Prague.
“It looks like if he doesn’t play this week, he will be able to play the week after that,” Esch said.
Schlichte completed 13 of 22 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Senior Derek Frentz finished last week's game, completing 3 of 7 passes for 34 yards and rushing for 57 yards on seven carries.
He will likely start Friday’s game, with sophomore Josh Athey also getting some snaps.
“Derek played well (last week),” Esch said. “He kind of got thrown in there, and he did a good job. It makes a big difference if you’re able to practice all week.”
St. Clair gets W
Last season, St. Clair didn’t have enough players for a varsity team, and the year before that, the Cyclones won just two games.
But St. Clair started the season Friday with a 67-6 nonconference victory over West Lutheran.
“It was huge,” coach Chris Harvey said. “To go into the huddle after the game and see the looks on their faces, it was priceless.”
Senior Miklo Miller scored three touchdowns, including one on the opening kickoff. He was the only St. Clair player to score more than one touchdown.
“”I was happy with our aggressiveness on defense,” Harvey said. “That’s something we’ve worked on from the time we had summer camp. We finally have enough players to allow us to practice defense.”
St. Clair hosts Minnesota Valley Lutheran on Friday.
Games to watch
Madelia plays at Nicollet in a Southern Confederacy nine-man game, with both teams coming off victories. Madelia defeated Renville County West 26-8, while Nicollet topped Southwest United 25-20. Last season, Nicollet downed Madelia 44-0 in the section finals.
Waseca plays a nonconference game at Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, pitting athletes that know each other well despite not having played against each other often in football.
Blooming Prairie plays at Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity in a game between two of the top teams in the Gopher Valley A Conference. Both teams won in Week 1.