With two of the area’s top football offenses colliding Friday night, linebackers Owen Suedkamp and Logan Houba will be among the busiest men on the field.
Suedkamp (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) roams the heart of the Columbia Eagles defense and will be counted on to help slow down Red Bud’s prolific offense that leads the metro-east in scoring at 51 points per game. The Musketeers have been held below 40 points only once all season.
“He’s the Mike Singletary of our team from a leadership standpoint,” Horner said of Suedkamp, an all-state linebacker as a junior last season whose production hasn’t dipped a bit while averaging more than 10 tackle per game. “He’s the type of kid that has all the qualities of what a middle linebacker shuold be - leadership, toughness, work ethic, desire you name it.
“He’s one of those guys, but what I love about this kid is he still has a really good time at practice. He has fun and competes hard at practice and our kids feed off of him.”
Friday’s game: Red Bud (6-1 overall, 4-1 in the Cahokia Conference) at Columbia (7-0, 5-0), 7 p.m.
Houba (92 tackles, three interceptions, one sack) anchors a Red Bud defense that will be put to the test for the third week in a row after giving up 42 points in a loss to Central and 60 in a 67-60 victory last week over Portageville, Mo.
Columbia averages 41.2 points and allowed only six points to a Central team that scored 42 against Red Bud two weeks ago in a 42-33 win over the Musketeers. The Eagles, trying to close out their fifth straight unbeaten league championship, are 41-2 in their last 43 regular-season games including a 33-6 win over previously unbeaten Central last week.
“Our offense has showed up for seven weeks, they’ve barely had a hiccup,” Red Bud coach Dave Lucht said. “Our defense hasn’t been too consistent in too many of those games, so if there’s ever a time where the defense and special teams need to step up, this is it.
“Those are the two part of the game that are eluding us right now. Our biggest issue is not giving up the big pay”
Scouting Red Bud: One part of the game the Musketeers have down stone-cold is scoring.
Their quick-strike attack led by running back Ryan Hess (122 carries, 1,350 yards, 22 touchdowns; 17 receptions, 257 yards) and quarterback Griffin Ziebold (71-of-107, 1,401 yards passing, 20 TDs; 289 yards rushing, five TDs) scores so quickly at times the defense may not be getting enough time to catch its breath.
Ziebold’s top targets are Gavin Rensing (26 catches, 609 yards, 13 TDs) and Alex Birchler (21 catches, 431 yards, six TDs).
“They can be dynamic at times,” Horner said. “They’ve got a good quarterback, a quality running back and couple quality receivers. We’re going to have to play as good as we did defensively against Central against them, and maybe a little more because I think they throw it a little better than Central does.
“They’ve got good balance in terms of play calling and they’ve got playmakers. It’s no different than what we’re doing.”
The streak: Columbia has a 29-game Cahokia Conference win streak since losing 34-20 to Red Bud on Oct. 14, 2011.
State rankings: Columbia is fifth in Class 4A; Red Bud is 10th in Class 2A.
Scouting Columbia: Like Red Bud, Columbia also has intense quick-strike capability but has been more solid defensively.
Pulling the trigger on the offense is senior quarterback Greg Long, who has completed 76-of-99 passes for 1,105 yards and 15 TDs with no interceptions. He also adds 277 yards and eight TDs rushing and leads the Eagles’ defense with four interceptions.
Columbia’s top receiver is junior Jordan Holmes with 41 catches and 722 yards and 10 TDs. The top running back is Colton Byrd (105 carries, 856 yards, 14 TDs) while receivers Mitch Daniels (14 catches, 213 yards) and Jared Germain (11 catches, 136 yards, three TDs) have also been effective.
“For us it’s all about our execution,” Horner said. “We’re not going into the game thinking we have to score 60 to win. It may turn out to be that way, but for us it’s let’s continue what we do. If the defense can get enough stops and get the ball in or hands, right now we don’t care who we’re playing defensively.”