Football: Irish are section’s top seedAfter an undefeated season and a first-round bye, Rosemount will open section play Saturday against Burnsville
By: Brian Hall, Rosemount Town Pages
There should be no surprises for the Rosemount football team entering the Class 5A, Section 3 tournament.
The Irish earned the No. 1 seed in the seven-team section with an undefeated regular season and South Suburban Conference championship.
When Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann scans the playoff bracket, there are a number of familiar teams. The Irish beat five of the other six teams during the regular season. Only No. 7 seed Bloomington Jefferson has yet to play Rosemount this season.
The names are familiar, but Erdmann isn’t necessarily expecting the same teams.
“Teams change as the season goes on, so although the uniform may be the same, they will probably be doing things differently than when we played them earlier,” Erdmann said. “If we weren’t successful the first go around, we would make adjustments the second attempt at a team.”
Based on the first-time results, Rosemount likely wouldn’t need to make many changes. However, the regular season gave the Irish opponents something to think about.
After a 34-15 win last week at Eagan to finish the regular season, Rosemount had outscored its opponents by an average of 22.2 points per game.
“We always look at postseason as a second season,” Erdmann said. “All teams are 0-0 and everyone is playing to survive, so teams are more willing to take chances if they think they need to gamble to be successful.”
The closest any team came during the regular season was 14 points. Rosemount beat Prior Lake, Lakeville North and Eastview each by 14 points. Lakeville North is in Class 5A, Section 1, but in Rosemount’s Section 3, Prior Lake is the No. 3 seed and Eastview is the second seed.
As the top seed, the Irish earned a first-round bye when the tournament opened Tuesday. Rosemount hosts Burnsville on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Irish Stadium.
The No. 4-seeded Blaze advanced with a 22-16 win against No. 5 seed Apple Valley in the first round.
The Irish beat Burnsville 35-6 in the second week of the regular season. In that game, Rosemount ran for 347 yards and held the ball for over 30 minutes. The Irish opened a 28-0 lead the first time the two teams met on the strength of four touchdowns by Nicholas Liska. The early deficit forced Burnsville to throw 23 passes, a trend Erdmann doesn’t expect to see Saturday.
“Both teams have been running the ball very effectively the past two weeks,” Erdmann said of Burnsville and Apple Valley before the playoffs started. “They have found the best balance that suits their abilities.”
Eastview hosted Bloomington Jefferson, and Prior Lake was at home against Bloomington Kennedy in Tuesday’s other games. The winner’s will meet Saturday in the section’s other semifinal for the right to play the winner between Rosemount and Burnsville Nov. 5 in the section final.
“We try to focus on getting better each day at practice,” Erdmann said. “When we play well, good things happen. So everything is about us and how we perform. We can’t control the opponent, weather or calls. We can only control what and how we perform.”
If the regular-season finale is any indication, Rosemount knows what is at stake. The Irish had already wrapped up the conference title before beating Eagan.
Expect more of the same intensity from Rosemount on Saturday.
“At this point, our season is on the line so intensity shouldn’t be an issue,” Erdmann said. “We are playing to survive.”
Against Eagan, the Irish racked up 332 yards rushing and held the Wildcats to minus-5 yards on the ground. Rosemount ran 76 plays to Eagan’s 30, while controlling the clock with almost 34 minutes in time of possession. The Wildcats had the ball for just over 14 minutes.
Nicholas Liska had a pair of short touchdown runs and Kevin Larson added a rushing score as the Irish jumped out to a 22-0 advantage after the opening play of the second quarter.
Eagan scored 14 straight points, but Rosemount put the game away with a dominating second half, scoring on two touchdown runs by Andrew Hausmann.
Larson had 133 yards rushing. Hausmann had 62 rushing yards. Liska added 51 yards on the ground and Logan Lindberg contributed 50 yard rushing.
Brandt Berghuis intercepted a pass for the Irish, while Hausmann blocked a first-quarter punt that set up Rosemount’s second score.
“We were pleased with the outcome and that we did so well running the ball and stopping the run,” Erdmann said. “It is always nice to beat a district rival, especially when it moves us to 8-0.”
But the Irish have designs on more than just an 8-0 season and a conference championship.
Rosemount is favored to win the section tournament and advance to the state tournament as it did in 2008.
“Our guys have worked a long time preparing for this season and hopefully we play our best football of the year now,” Erdmann said. “One bad night and the season ends.”