Defense a strength for Lake Park-Audubon and Warren-Alvarado-Oslo
If Friday's game between Lake Park-Audubon and Warren-Alvarado-Oslo ends in a scoreless tie, don't be surprised.
The teams boast the two stingiest defenses in the Northern Plains Conference - allowing a combined average of 4.25 points per game.
"I'm hoping we come away with at least a 2-0 win or something," LP-A coach Jed Swegarden joked. "These are two similar teams, and I'm sure it will be close. It's going to be a defensive struggle."
Both teams are 4-0. The Ponies are ranked seventh in the Class 1A poll, while the Raiders are ranked eighth.
Lake Park-Audubon is outscoring its opponents by an average of 32.8-5.3.
Warren-Alvarado-Oslo is winning by an average margin of 23.8-3.3.
The Ponies hadn't given up a point until last week in their 14-13 win over Badger-Greenbush-Middle River.
Entering that game, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo had outscored its opponents 81-0 through the first three games.
"That is pretty rare," Swegarden said. "And they played Mahnomen. Usually, you're going to give up something somewhere, so that's impressive."
Both teams play similar styles defensively, relying on a lot of speed that makes breaking the big play very difficult.
"They're a lot like us in that they're not a huge team, but they are quick and disciplined," Swegarden said. "I think both teams are too quick for teams to break open that 35- or 40-yard play.
"Both have been playing well, and it looks like a battle of two good defenses."
Badger/Greenbush-Middle River is the only common opponent the Raiders and Ponies have faced this year.
Lake Park-Audubon beat the Gators 25-8 on Sept. 5 - but Swegarden isn't reading anything into that.
"You can't look at that because intangibles play into every game," Swegarden said. "We're just looking at it as a couple of good, undefeated teams going against each other - and that's exciting for us."
On offense, LP-A boasts the second-leading rusher in the Northern Plains in Kenyon O'Brien, who has 508 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Ponies have the better passing attack, led by Casey Larson and Ryan Oas.
Larson has thrown for 477 yards, two touchdowns and a pick, while Oas has 11 catches for 342 yards and has caught both of Larson's TDs.