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College Football: Raiders hope to be celebrating Sunday

At approximately 4 p.m. Sunday, either Central Lakes College or North Dakota State College of Science players will be celebrating a state championship.

Central Lakes College’s Greg Lewis (6) runs the ball during the state semifinal against Ridgewater. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch
Central Lakes College’s Greg Lewis (6) runs the ball during the state semifinal against Ridgewater. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch

At approximately 4 p.m. Sunday, either Central Lakes College or North Dakota State College of Science players will be celebrating a state championship.

For the sophomores on either team, it will be redemption for the way the 2016 season ended.

CLC head coach Greg Medeck and the Raiders hope they will be the ones celebrating. Last year the Raiders lost 39-35 to NDSCS at Wahpeton, N.D., in a thrilling semifinal. A week later, the Wildcats lost in the state championship game to Rochester 45-41.

Sunday will mark the first time the Raiders and Wildcats have met in a championship game, and if season statistics and results against common opponents are any indication, the game should be close.

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MCAC state championship

  • Who: Central Lakes College Raiders (10-0) vs. North Dakota State College of Science Wildcats (9-1)
  • Where: At St. Cloud State University's Husky Stadium
  • When: 1 p.m. Sunday

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This fall the teams have played six common opponents. The Raiders scored 225 points against those opponents while the Wildcats scored 214. Defense was a bigger discrepancy as the Raiders yielded just 77 points to common opponents while the Wildcats gave up 159.

The numbers favor CLC a bit on offense as the Raiders finished first in the conference in rushing and second in passing, gaining 3,347 total yards with an average of 418.4 yards per game which were all tops. They also led in overall points with 339.

Top Raiders running back Teddy Sherva, who gained 814 yards on 122 carries in leading the Eastern Division, was injured in the first half of the semifinal game against Ridgewater. However, Greg Lewis rushed for 453 yards backing up Sherva with five touchdowns.

The Wildcats finished second in rushing and third in passing with an average of 407.5 yards per game. They scored 301 points. The Raiders will need to watch out for Rodolph Zeleh who led the Western Division in rushing with 498 total yards.

Defensively, both teams were tough against the rush as both finished first. NDSCS gave up just 381 yards this season while the Raiders gave up 525.

If there are big plays, they could very well come in the passing game, as both teams had problems with pass defense during the season. CLC finished fifth in the conference and the Wildcats were sixth in passing defense.

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Mike Tveitbakk provided steady play at quarterback for the Raiders throughout the season finishing with 21 touchdown passes which was first in the conference. Receiver Cody Rau led the conference in receptions with 47.

The Wildcats played two quarterbacks, Malik Gaillard and Nick D'Auisto, who finished in the middle of the pack in the conference for a team that ended the season with 301 points scored.

In past championship games in which the Raiders have participated, turnovers and special teams have played a key role.

In regard to special teams, both teams have struggled with the punting game with the Raiders averaging 34 yards per punt and the Wildcats just 27.8. The kickers are both strong with CLC's Antoine Akundu finishing the regular season with 53 points. He also hit a key field goal early in the fourth quarter of the semifinal game to give the Raiders a lead.

The game could come down to the Raiders' defense where Seth Zins has been sacking quarterbacks all season, while defensive backs Kyree McLean, Maurice Willis, and Caleb Glennon have all made key interceptions during the season.

Central Lakes College’s Tykeise Johnson (19) sends water flying through the air as the Raiders celebrate winning the state semifinal against Ridgewater. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch
Central Lakes College’s Tykeise Johnson (19) sends water flying through the air as the Raiders celebrate winning the state semifinal against Ridgewater. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch

Related Topics: COLLEGE FOOTBALL
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