After sitting out last week thanks to the bye that comes with the No. 2 seed in the 8-man football playoffs, the Polo Marcos are eager to get back on the field and start their playoff journey this weekend.
“We’re real excited,” senior guard/linebacker Cole Faivre said. “During the season, you never want to sit out; I know we love playing the game of football, and it’s not fun to sit out when everybody else gets to play. But we’ve just been getting prepared for the team we’re playing on Saturday, and we’re just going to go out and play our best.”
That team is Lowpoint-Washburn, the No. 9 seed that defeated 8-seeded Metro-East Lutheran 44-28 in the first round last weekend. The Wildcats will visit Polo for a 2 p.m. game Saturday.
L-W’s win means the Marcos (9-0) will face an unfamiliar opponent in their first-ever 8-man playoff game. Polo had beaten Metro-East Lutheran by a combined 156-26 in three meetings the last 3 years.
The Wildcats (4-4) are led by senior nose guard/running back Mason Krafft, who has 317 yards rushing, 249 yards receiving, and 7 total touchdowns. He also leads the defense with 40 tackles, 14 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
Krafft has been the main focal point of the Marcos’ preparation.
“They’ve got a big nose guard and fullback, he’s a good player,” Faivre said. “He’s aggressive, he’s fast, he’s strong, and we’ve got to shut him down at the nose guard position, because that’s where he’s most dominant. He can change a game if we don’t get him taken care of, so we’re really going to focus on stopping him, and then we’ll just let the rest take care of itself.”
L-W senior quarterback John Rediger had thrown for 700 yards and 13 TDs, with six interceptions. His top target is senior receiver Trent Hofstatter, who has 24 catches for 336 yards and 11 total TDs; he also has 22 tackles and two interceptions.
Polo counters with a potent ground attack. Senior Jace Coffey has run for 832 yards and 12 TDs, classmate Alex Davies has 560 yards rushing and 10 TDs, and junior Jesse Powell has 349 yards and 4 TDs on the ground.
Senior quarterback Tucker Mumford is the straw that stirs the Marcos’ drink. He’s run for 687 yards and 15 TDs, and he’s thrown for 152 yards and 5 TDs, with just two interceptions.
Scott Prerost and Joey Bardell have five catches each for a combined 98 yards, with Prerost nabbing three TD catches and Bardell one. Coffey has the other two receptions for 54 yards and a score.
“I think it all starts with our linemen; they’re making big holes that you could drive a semi through,” Davies said. “And our quarterback makes excellent reads on our option plays.
“We’ve got to stop their two big running backs up the middle, and be ready for the corner route that they throw. I think we should be able to run the ball on them if they’re in a 3-3, with our good linemen this year, I think we should handle it.”
Defensively, Mumford leads Polo with 58 tackles, and he has six sacks and three interceptions. Davies has 52 tackles (3 for loss), and Faivre has 50 stops, four sacks and two interceptions. Coffey has 48 tackles, four sacks and two tackles for loss; both he and Mumford have three fumble recoveries.
Coach Jeff Bumsted says the dominating run the Marcos have had in their first season in 8-man – their average margin of victory is 41.5 points per game, and they’ve allowed just 62 points all year while scoring 395 – is all about the players.
“I think it’s just the kids. They bought in from the beginning,” Bumsted said. “We said we’re going to run I [formation], we’re going to try and run the ball, and we’re control the clock – and we’re not going to let the teams that fling the ball around have the ball on offense. Our line has really bought in this year, worked their butts off, and they’re doing really well locking onto their guy, and our backs are running hard. I think that’s been the key to our success, is we’ve been able to run the ball; if we have to throw, we can, but we haven’t had to.”
Don’t look for anything different Saturday afternoon. Bumsted wants his Marcos to run the ball effectively, chew up yards and the clock, and put up some points – in essence, the best defense is a steady offense.
“Our game plan is to run the football, run the clock, don’t let them have the football – like we’ve done all year long,” Bumsted said. “That’s what we’re hoping to do. We think we can still run the ball on them; they’ve run a 3-3 defense all year, so if they do that Saturday, we’ll be happy. We went against a 5 [-man front] in Week 8 and Week 9, so if we run against a 3, I think there will be seams for us to hit and we’ll be able to run the ball pretty decent.”
While the Marcos are locked in to Lowpoint-Washburn, the run they’ve been on all season has put a loftier goal in the back of their minds: an 8-man state title. That game will be held November 22 and Monmouth College, and Polo would love to be playing in it.
“Our big goal is still on November 22, but we still have to play hard and focus every week,” Davies said. “Last week, Lowpoint upset Metro, so we don’t want that to happen to us, so we have to look at every opponent like we can be beaten by them. But we’re still keeping in mind the November 22nd state championship game.”
8-man playoffs, 2nd round
Lowpoint-Washburn at Polo
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
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