Fairmont football off to a running start

The Cardinals have put together a nice season so far, and are hoping for better

Fairmont football is focusing on what it means to “Fight On” this season in Class AAA of the MSHSL.

The Cardinals stand at 4-1, which puts them currently in fourth place in the South Central – Red division. Waseca and Jordan sit above Fairmont in the standings in second and third place, respectively. The Cardinals’ lone loss this season was at the hands of Waseca, whose only loss is to the first-place and undefeated Marshall Tigers. Fairmont doesn’t have Marshall on their 2017 schedule but hope to meet them when it counts in the postseason. With one less conference game played than Jordan, Fairmont sits behind them in the standings but holds the potential tiebreaker over Jordan after their week two win this year against Jordan, 41-28.

Head coach Mat Mahoney wants to compete for a district title and win the section in the 2017 season. The Cardinals coach is leading the team well on its way through five games for those goals to become a reality in the Fairmont community. Mahoney highlighted the opening two games on the schedule as critical opportunities to make a statement that the team will “Fight On” to accomplish its goals.

Both games were out of the way with Fairmont racking up two wins to start the season on a high note. Waseca dealt the Cardinals their first loss in a defensive battle in week three, which ended with a score of 14-9 and the Blue jays leaving Fairmont High School as the victors.

Fairmont got back to its winning ways in weeks four and five. A fierce competition and some late-game dramatics by Tri-City United had Fairmont fans sweating. Two fourth-quarter passing touchdowns of 62 and 85 yards apiece decimated the Cardinals lead to only two points, with an opportunity for the Titans to tie it with a two-point conversion. Luckily for Fairmont, the conversion failed and the Cardinals added another win to their belt.

The most recent home game on Fairmont’s schedule was played against Albert Lea. The 48-6 Cardinals win allowed fans and the team to take a breath of relief after the two previous games. Under center for Fairmont is senior Nathan Kallenbach, who threw for four touchdowns in the game against Albert Lea.

Kallenbach is a dual-threat quarterback who is also the team’s second leading rusher. The senior has performed well this season, currently posting a 121.2 quarterback rating with 1,166 passing yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 13:2. The starting quarterback leads the team with three rushing touchdowns and has run for 102 yards according to the Star Tribune’s MN Football Hub.

One of the Cardinals’ key incoming players is junior running back Mario Maldonado. On 4.2 yards-per-attempt, Maldonado has 262 rushing yards in his five games played. The running back occasionally catches the ball as well as he has 12 receptions for 74 receiving yards at this point in the season.

Junior linebacker Zach Ringnell puts the ball on the ground for Fairmont’s defense. Ringnell leads the team with 70 total tackles and has forced three turnovers, one of which is a blocked kick. Ringnell’s line-backing partner Collin Steubler gets after the quarterback, recording the most sacks for the Cardinals with two-and-a-half.

Senior Sam Schwieger patrols the ball in the air going both ways on the field. On offense, he has hauled in eight catches at wide receiver and has 152 receiving yards. On the other side of the ball, Schwieger has intercepted opposing quarterbacks a team-high four times while he plays the cornerback position.

With two road games and one game at home left to go, Fairmont is piecing together a team that will “Fight On” until they hopefully step on the field of US Bank Stadium in November. The team travels to Worthington on Oct. 6 and then will return home to Fairmont for another game against Belle Plaine. The Belle Plaine game is another that Coach Mahoney stresses the importance to the program that the Cardinals win. The final game of the regular season will be played on Wednesday, Oct. 18th on the road against New Ulm. Against common opponents, the New Ulm Eagles share the same record as Fairmont, losing to Waseca and defeating Tri-City United. It will be a challenge getting through the playoffs to state but the Fairmont Cardinals have already put themselves in a position to do it.

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