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Rebels looking to return to State

By Staff | Nov 3, 2019

The United South Central Rebels starting defense practices against the scout team as they prepared to take on Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop for the Section 2A championship which was played on Friday, Nov. 1. The Rebels overcame an injury to their starting quarterback to remain undefeated as they attempt to qualify for the State Tournament for the second consecutive year. The Rebels are led by Zach Niebuhr who has run for 1,644 yards and 28 touchdowns and AJ Kloos who has 28 receptions for 569 yards and 11 touchdowns.

For the second consecutive year the United South Central Rebels football team is vying for the Class A Section 2 title, following an undefeated regular season.

Last year USC defeated Randolph 42-20 to win their section and qualify for the state tournament. This year the Rebels faced the Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop Thunderbirds for the section championship on Friday, Nov. 1, for the chance to make a return trip to the state tournament. The Rebels entered the game with a 10-0 record while the Thunderbirds were 8-2.

The Rebels have outscored their opponents by a margin of 356-107 this year through 10 games. They have devastated their opponents in the second quarter by outscoring them 143-28.

“The strength of our team has been the play of the guys in the trenches,” head coach Brad Neseth explained. “Our line play on offense has enabled us to be able to move the ball on the ground quite effectively.”

Zach Niebuhr leads the Rebels’ potent rushing attack. The senior running back has carried the ball 264 times for 1,644 yards, which is over 6.2 yards per carry. He has scored 28 touchdowns so far this year.

Quarterback Isaac Meyer had also been effective at avoiding tackles but suffered a season-ending injury a few weeks ago. Meyer averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 34 carries prior to getting hurt.

Meyer had also been effective in engineering the Rebels’ passing attack. He completed 36 of 74 pass attempts for 826 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“It was hard losing Isaac and I feel bad for him because it is his senior year,” Neseth explained. “But Ethan Dallman has come in and done a good job taking over.”

Dallman, a junior, has completed 41 of 66 pass attempts for 506 yards and six touchdowns.

AJ Kloos leads the receivers with 28 receptions for 569 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averages over 20 yards every time he catches the ball. Mark Bushlach has gained 460 yards on 26 catches for 17.7 yards per reception and seven touchdowns. Riley Staloch has eight receptions for 112 yards and Brevan Linder has six receptions for 146 yards.

While the USC offense averages over 35 points a game, their defense has allowed an average of only 10.7 points per game.

“Once again, it starts with the line,” Neseth remarked. “Our strong line play allows us to do the things we want to do to be effective on defense.”

Leading the way on defense is Micah Hamson with 142 total tackles, Niebuhr is next with 86, Jacob Hendrickson has 67, Bushlack has 61 and Linder has 50.

Linder has been a thorn in the sides of opposing quarterbacks this season with 17.5 sacks.

“Linder is quick and has some good moves which allow him to beat his opponent and pressure the quarterback,” Neseth said.

Bushlack leads the team with four interceptions.

USC began their season with two wins on the road over Fillmore Central and Cleveland. Next, the Rebels defeated Alden-Conger-Glenville-Emmons 33-0 in their first home game of the season on Sept. 13.

They were back on the road the following week at Lester Prairie where they defeated Lester Prairie-Holy Trinity 32-14. The Rebels returned home and downed Mayer Lutheran 33-6 on Sept. 27 and Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 26-6 on Oct. 4.

The Rebels’ closest game of the season was on Oct. 10 at St. Clair-Loyola. USC only scored 12 points but held the Spartans scoreless to pick up their seventh win of the season.

USC played host to Waterville-Elysian-Morristown on Wednesday, Oct 16, in the final game of the regular season and defeated the Buccaneers 34-21.

The Rebels faced Alden-Conger-Glenville-Emmons for the second time this season in the opening round of the section playoffs and won 51-13. Then USC punched their ticket to the section finals with a 34-20 win over Bethlehem Academy.

Should USC prevail against Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop, they would play the winner of the Section 4A championship game between Browerville-Eagle Valley and Mayer Lutheran. That game would be played at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State University.