FAIRMONT – Sectional showdown 3.0.
The no. 1-seeded Fairmont Cardinals (9-1) take the goal of the third consecutive Section 3AAA football crown at 7 pm Friday night at the artificial in New Ulm.
Meanwhile, the No. 2-seeded Waseca Bluejays (8-2) look to bounce back from back-to-back losses to Fairmont in the playoffs for their first win since 2019.
“This is the 12th time we have played in the last 10 years, so our programs know each other inside and out,” said Mahoney, whose line holds a 6-5 edge in head-to-head contention over the past decade. “I’m not expecting anything new, but I’m hoping for a third win in a row and at least.
“On Monday, we watched video from where we played this year, and we want to fix our mistakes.”
Safety Levi Pooley bagged two interceptions to help the Fairmont defense one of five shutouts in the fall — 21-0 all-time and best in a win over Waseca on Oct. 18 at Thomas Mahoney Field in Fairmont.
Running back Elijah Johnson rushed for 146 yards and one touchdown on 25 totes, quarterback Blaze Geiger threw for 150 yards, including one TD to Pooley and another to Jace Teveldal, while the end of Gage Borntrager and the Cardinals’ defense reduced the high-octane Bluejays to. 54 yards on the ground and 72 more in the air.
“After watching the film a few weeks ago, we have to train better and play better,” said Waseca head coach Brad Wendland. “We can’t turn over four turnovers and be awarded eight penalties if we want to compete – it’s that simple.”
The Bluejays used a power pass from sophomore quarterback Jordan Johnston to cruise to a 21-7 semifinal victory over No. 3-seeded Jordan on Saturday at Waseca.
Johnston threw a 28-yard pass to receiver Carson Ohnstad and connected with receiver Deron Russell on a 36-yard TD spiral, where running back Micah Allen-Haas had a 3-yard run.
Zach Hulscher kicked all three PATs for the Bluejays in their last win over the Hubmen.
“Micah is a big, strong kid with a very high ceiling, but he doesn’t know much,” Wendland said of the 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior. “He’s a player that we (coaches) hope will improve every time we get him out of the backfield.”
Ironically, Allen-Haas has been one of the teammates looking to fill the role that sprinter extraordinaire Kaeden Johnson tore his ACL in the Week 5 game against Jordan.
Waseca has also been without the gridiron skills of receiver/defensive end Damarius Russell, who has missed his team’s previous two games due to injury.
“He is not 100 percent, but we will make a decision on him this week,” Wendland said of Damarius Russell.
Fairmont topped Waseca by a 35-26 decision in the 2022 Section 3AAA finals after the Bluejays won 32-14 in a regular season game over the Cardinals in Week 4 last fall.
“I told our players and coaches to think about last season, and throw out the window our win at Waseca this year,” said Mahoney. “Don’t take anything for granted. There are no guarantees. “
Fairmont edged Waseca for the 2021 sectional by a 27-6 margin after winning their Week 4 regular-season battle, 28-15.
After the 2020 season, the Cardinals dominated the Bluejays in the regular season in 2019 and 2018, while Waseca went on a five-game winning streak over Fairmont from 2013-17.