MARSHALL - The Marshall football team has been trying to rise above .500 for much of the 2013 season.
The Tigers will have another opportunity to do that today, when MHS (3-3 overall, 3-1 Southwest Conference) travels to play Redwood Valley at 7 p.m.
"We have been scratching and clawing to get back to .500. Now that we have gotten there, we want to get above it," Marshall head coach Terry Bahlman said. "Last week, we really played well before the storm, getting three touchdowns on the scoreboard and really ran the ball well. We're looking to build from that effort."
The Marshall Tigers line up to run a play during practice Thursday at Marshall High School.
Junior quarterback Brad Bahlmann agreed.
"It would be awesome to finally get over the .500-mark and have a winning record," Brad Bahlmann said. "We started off bad. So, we've really been working to get back to .500, since our 0-2 start. Now, we have a chance to take another step forward."
Coach Bahlmann still would like to see the Tigers be more a more mature, aggressive team in 2013.
"I think the difference, between our start and where we're at now, has been that we need to learn how to finish games," Coach Bahlmann said. "Right now, when we hit adversity, were not able to respond or come back. As this team matures, as a group, we're hoping that has changed by staying on the aggressive and making plays."
Brad Bahlmann said he has seen some signs of Marshall's improvement on both sides of the ball.
"I think we have been better at carrying out our assignments and working together as a team," Brad Bahlmann said.
Of late, the Tigers have success by running the football. Marshall rushed for 384 yards last Friday at Worthington with Brad Bahlmann piling up 169 yards and Sam Marshall gaining 147 more. Marshall ran for two touchdowns, Brad Bahlmann ran for another before the pair hooked up on a passing play for a TD.
"It's a good formula for us to run the football," Coach Bahlmann said. "Defensively, we have been pretty strong at stopping the run, with the exception of the second half against Jackson County Central. We want to make Redwood Valley one-dimensional by stopping the run, making them throw the football and to put a lot of pressure on their two young quarterbacks."
Sophomore Cade Johnson is a key player in Redwood Valley's attack. He has held down the quarterback spot this season and helped the Cardinals end a four-game losing streak last Friday, when Redwood Valley defeated Pipestone Area 21-6.
Coming into the 2013 campaign, junior Thomas Buboltz had been tabbed to be the Cardinals signal-caller.
"Cade Johnson can throw the ball, run with it and has lined up as a receiver this season. We have to be able to know where he is at," Coach Bahlmann said.
Other key Cardinals include a corps of receivers (Thane Widmer, Taquez Perkins) that features a few Redwood Valley basketball players from its state tournament team last spring. Mitch Fischer (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) is Redwood Valley's running back and middle linebacker.
The Cardinals have been described as a speedy team with many undersized players.
Brad Bahlmann believes the Tigers can be successful tonight at Redwood Valley.
"We want to wear Redwood Valley down with long drives to tire them out," Brad Bahlmann said. "Defensively, we want to take away the big plays because we don't think (Redwood Valley) can drive on us."
MARSHALL (3-3) AT REDWOOD VALLEY (2-4)
Kickoff - 7 p.m. in Lamberton.
Last Meeting - Marshall defeated Redwood Valley 56-13 at the Schwan Regional Event Center.
Last Week - Marshall defeated Worthington 33-7; Redwood Valley defeated Pipestone Area, 21-6.
State Rankings - Both teams are unranked.
Streaks - After an 0-2 start, Marshall has won three of its last four games; Redwood Valley ended a four-game losing streak last Friday with a home victory against Pipestone Area.
Scoring Averages - Marshall: Offense 21.8 points; Defense 18.3 points; Redwood Valley: Offense 13.2 points; Defense 16.2 points.
Key Players for Redwood Valley - Cade Johnson (QB/RB/WR), Thomas Buboltz (QB), Thane Widmer (WR), Taquez Perkins (WR) and Mitch Fischer (RB/MLB).
Key Players for Marshall - OFFENSE: Brad Bahlmann is 44 of 76 for 676 yards passing with six touchdowns and fourth interceptions and has 82 rushing attempts for 483 yards and four touchdowns; Sam Marshall has 86 rushing attempts for 520 yards and five touchdowns and has 21 receptions for 268 yards and two touchdowns; Jack Bock has 32 rushing attempts for 132 yards and two touchdowns; Andrew Hmielewski has 17 receptions for 301 yards and two touchdowns. DEFENSE: Jason Polzin has 31.5 tackles; Tyus DeBoer has 30.0 tackles, 2.0 sacks, one interception; Brad Bahlmann has 28.5 tackles; Max Roelfsema has 19.0 tackles; Reece Winkleman has 3.0 sacks and one interception; Hunter Greve has 1.0 sack and one interception.