Football: St. Charles off to a perfect start

September 21, 2018

There wasn’t loads of optimism, the way the St. Charles football team limped away last season. The Saints lost their last four games in 2017 and six of their last seven.

Still, St. Charles coach Matt Reinhardt couldn’t help but see glimmers of light.

“I knew we had a lot of kids who played last year coming back,” he said. “And we had a lot of kids with a lot of potential.”

St. Charles two-way standout Drew Leistikow (tight end, defensive end) knew something else.

“We are a really competitive bunch,” said the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Leistikow, also one of the top basketball players in the area. “We are so competitive even with each other. All we used to do when we were younger was win. That pushes us as we’re getting older.”

All of that said, here is something that neither Reinhardt nor Leistikow would have guessed: It’s that this St. Charles football team would look THIS good to begin the 2018 season. That not only would it be 3-0, but a crushing 3-0. St. Charles has outscored its first three opponents by an average of 46-9.

That’s been resounding enough to put the Saints in the early conversation as a Section 1AA favorite.

Reinhardt’s best explanation for it all?

“Sometimes kids just take time,” said Reinhardt, who team has beaten La Crescent, Dover-Eyota and Cannon Falls so far, and hosts Triton on Friday night.

“I think we’re playing harder and the pace we play with is better, too. You expect classes to get better as they get older. But this jump has been a bigger jump than normal.”

Now, just so nobody gets too ahead of himself with this St. Charles-as-world-beaters notion, Reinhardt also offers a reminder

“We started pretty well last year, too,” said the third-year coach, recalling his team winning its first two games in lopsided fashion before dropping six of its next seven.

Still, Reinhardt admits that this feels different. That’s especially true of up front.

“Our line of scrimmage is different, that’s for sure,” said Reinhardt, whose blockers have produced a thundering running game, all while stopping the run on the other side of the ball.

The Saints lead the Southeast District, White Sub-District in rushing yards with 1,001 in three games. Logan Wendt, a power-running 200-pound junior, has led the way with 341 yards rushing. Speedy and quick 185-pound senior halfback Sam Holtz has dashed for 255 yards.

On the other side of the ball, St. Charles has allowed just 306 rushing yards and statistically has the third best defense overall in the White Sub-District.

No doubt, the Saints have achieved all of that behind the best lines they’ve had in years.

The blockers are tight ends Leistikow and Kyler Reps, tackles Eli DeChamps and Hunter Oviatt, guards Hunter Johnson and Teagon Young, and center Gavin Owens. All but Reps and Johnson are seniors.

On defense, senior Chad Flodeen has been a load in the middle of that line, at 260 pounds.

It’s all adding up. The adage is that football games are won and lost up front. So far, these Saints have done a whole lot of winning up there.

Now the question is, will it hold up. The schedule gets really tough to end the season, with games against ranked teams Chatfield in Week 7 and Caledonia in Week 8.

Leistikow’s overwhelming desire is to have something special, all season.

“We have big aspirations,” he said. “We haven’t won in the playoffs in a long time. But as I look at our team now, we can make a run.”

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