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Prep Football | Chi-Hi Cardinals

Prep Football: Chi-Hi prepares for high-powered New Richmond

Eau Claire North at Chi-Hi football 9-16-22

Chi-Hi's Tucker Stary (67) and Jace Zwiefelhofer (60) look for Eau Claire North players to block last Friday at Dorais Field.

Chi-Hi football coach Chuck Raykovich expected New Richmond to be one of the teams to beat in the Big Rivers Conference this season.

So far the Tigers have been as advertised as the Cardinals head to New Richmond for a Friday night league showdown.

New Richmond (4-1, 2-1) is coming off a 28-18 win at Superior last Friday. The Tigers opened the season with nonconference wins over Medford and Ellsworth and following a 25-19 overtime loss at River Falls to start Big Rivers play bounced back to beat Eau Claire Memorial and the Spartans.

“They’re good,” Raykovich said. “A lot of their kids have played since they’ve been sophomores. They’re well honed.”

Quarterback Seamus Scanlan has completed 66 of 83 passes for 836 yards and nine touchdowns in five games against just three interceptions, according to WisSports.net. Running back Andrew Trandahl has run for 705 yards and six touchdowns so far this season after rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in just six games a season ago. Trandahl ran as a part of New Richmond’s 400-meter relay Division 1 state track and field champions during the spring and was also a part of the program’s third-place finisher in the 800 relay.

“The running back might be one of the fastest in the state,” Raykovich said of Trandahl. “He’s pretty special.”

When Scanlan takes to the air he has a myriad of targets to throw to. Drew Eckert leads the team in receiving yards (201) with one touchdown, Drew Efertz has a team-high 15 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Catcher Langeness, Jacob Hagman and George Schroeder each have two touchdown catches.

Chi-Hi was able to limit the Tigers to just two touchdowns and less than 250 yards of offense in last year’s 21-14 win at Dorais Field. But with so many of those players back for New Richmond, the Tigers have been even more lethal in 2022. Defensively unbeaten and state-ranked River Falls is the only team so far to score more than 18 points against the Tigers and needed an extra frame to do so.

New Richmond is in its third season as a part of the Big Rivers Conference after rejoining in 2020 and in football like many other sports, the Tigers have been competitive. New Richmond was previously in the Big Rivers in the late 1990s into the early 2000s and struggled but with growing enrollment numbers are more prepared to compete with the other large schools of the area.

“They’re a community that’s growing by leaps and bounds,” Raykovich said. “Their school enrollment is growing by leaps and bounds and they’re beneficiaries of good things that are happening in that part of our state.”

Chi-Hi snapped a two-game losing streak in convincing fashion last Friday with a 42-14 win over Eau Claire North at Dorais Field. Nathan Drivas ran for 107 yards and a score and Mason Howard added 93 rushing yards and three touchdowns as the Cardinals piled up 320 yards on the ground. The Cardinals started quickly in the win with three touchdowns in the first half after scoring none in losses to Husdon and Menomonie.

“The biggest issue we had was getting the kids to flush the previous two weeks and move on and realize how good they are and what good of a chance they have of moving forward,” Raykovich said of the win. “I think they rallied to it last week and now we’ve got to continue on that uphill climb.”

Raykovich said the recipe for success Friday will be similar to what the Cardinals have done in wins (and haven’t done in losses) so far — getting on the board early, playing strong defense throughout and winning the turnover battle.

Chi-Hi leads the all-time series with New Richmond 14-4-1 with the series dating all the way back to Chi-Hi’s second season with a football program, earning a 20-0 win over New Richmond on Oct. 24, 1896.

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