Raiders face challenge with visit from Rochester
Central Lakes College Raiders head coach Greg Medeck is playing down the significance of Saturday’s home match-up against Rochester.
He is focused more on the development of his team and the game against the Yellowjackets will be just the fourth in an eight-game regular season.
“We are striving to be the best team in our conference and to do that you need to beat the good teams,” Medeck said. “This is a strong opponent and should help our team measure where we are in this season.
“Win or lose, I don’t believe this game will define our season. Hopefully that will happen in November.”
The Raiders will definitely get a measure of where they are at as Rochester enters the game ranked No. 1 in the state, No. 17 in the NJCAA poll. More impressively, the Yellowjackets have outscored three Northern Division opponents 151-8 in the first three games.
Rochester has the top passing attack in the league, led by quarterback Earl Young who has thrown for 639 yards and has a 60.8-completion percentage. Receiver Randall Bailey leads the Southern Division in receptions with 10 for 126 yards and three touchdowns. However, the Yellowjackets have six receivers in the top ten in the division.
They also present a stifling defense that has given up just eight total points all season. They have allowed only 46 yards rushing and are giving up just 83 yards a game.
It all adds up to a tall challenge for the Raiders, who enter the game with a 2-1 record and one game behind Rochester. CLC and Rochester have one common opponent this season — Itasca. The Yellowjackets defeated the Vikings 51-0, with the Raiders beating the Vikings 18-9.
Medeck is excited about the challenge.
“It is always exciting to prepare for a quality opponent,” he said. “Fortunately our post-season hopes are not wrapped up completely in this game, although it is a game we are definitely focused on winning.”
The Raiders do have firepower of their own and one of the major players will be running back Beau Bellmore. He leads the division in rushing with 80 attempts for 376 yards and five touchdowns. He’s averaging 4.7 yards a carry since having his workload increased when running backs Taz Seibert and Beau Stough went down in Week One.
Quarterback Andrew Johnson is No. 2 behind Young in the division with a 45-percent completion percentage and 524 yards through the air with two touchdowns.
The Raiders also have their receiving yards spread between Anthony Shelman with 10 catches and Paul Lake with 9. That’s good for the No. 3 and No. 4 spot in the division.
In four of the last five seasons, the state champion has been either Rochester or CLC. The Raiders won the championship with a victory over Rochester in 2009, with the Yellowjackets returning the favor in 2010.
Saturday’s game is the first of four games the Raiders will play against Southern Division opponents. Currently the Raiders are ranked fifth in the state but three of their division opponents are ranked higher than them.
In order to leapfrog those teams, the Raiders need to improve in all facets of the game.
“We will have to execute better than we have so far this season, not only offensively and defensively, but also on special teams,” Medeck said. “I have no doubt our team will be emotionally ready for the contest. I just hope we are able to execute and do the little things well.”
Rochester may hold a slight edge in a close game as its kicker, Fafa Asante, was chosen the division’s special teams player of the week with field goals of 34 and 38 yards in last week’s victory over Fond Du Lac.
CLC hopes to add another win to the ongoing rivalry.
“I think any rivalry stems from either long-standing tradition or strong competitiveness between two programs,” Medeck said. “There really isn’t any deep-rooted history between our programs, but there have been some very competitive games over the last five years. That probably builds a little bit of rivalry, but it is not what we are focused on.”