Consistency is key for football team at Central

The scores may have changed from a season ago, but the results are the same leading up to Friday’s Mississippi Valley Conference football game between Sparta and La Crosse.
Just like last year, the Spartans and the Red Raiders are both searching for their first win of the season – and something’s got to give when they hit the gridiron at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse at 7 p.m.
Let’s hope is déjà vu all over again.
Last season, Sparta was coming off a lopsided 48-0 loss to La Crosse Logan when it met up with the Red Raiders at Sparta Memorial Field.
But the Spartans, behind a 100-yard passing performance from quarterback Jaret Sullivan, managed to right the ship a week later, defeating Central 20-6 at Memorial Field for their first win of the season.
Sullivan is coming off another solid effort this week after completing 12 of 21 passes for 133 yards in last week’s loss to Logan, and Sparta is hoping history repeats itself.
When the teams line up across from each other under the Friday Night Lights, it could be a lot like looking into the mirror for the Spartans.
“They are very similar to us formation wise,” said Sparta head coach John Blaha. “They run a double wing on offense.”
According to Blaha, the Red Raiders like to switch it up on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defensively, they run multiple fronts – a 4-4 and a 3-5,” he offered. “They are very aggressive in the A and B gaps, with a lot of cover one and some cover three.”
Sparta was solid on offense out of the gate last week, scoring on a pair of long drives in the first half, but failed to score in the second half.
Blaha said his team needs to be more consistent when it has the ball.
“Offensively, we must start like we did against Logan – sound execution, no turnovers and a few big plays when their defense is aggressive and taking chances,” he said.
“Defensively, we must improve tackling, prevent big plays and continue to ensure we are gap and assignment-sound against the option,” continued Blaha. “They had five explosive plays of 40 yards or more against Onalaska last week.”
He said the Red Raiders Sparta needs to contain include quarterback Matt Johnson, receiver Bailey Kale and running backs Connor Williams and Waylon Alvardo.
Johnson hooked up with Kale on a 70-yard touchdown pass against the Hilltoppers last week, Williams had a 59-yard touchdown run and Alvarado hit paydirt from 66 yards out.
It’s still early in the season, but Blaha believes Friday’s game is a big one for his team.
“We must show improvement from last week and play all four quarters,” he offered.
We have had certain aspects be very positive, but we have not yet done it in all phases for four quarters.”
Friday’s MVC bout between the Spartans and the Red Raiders will get underway at 7 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

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