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PREP FOOTBALL: KCC passing game leads Bearcats to semifinals

Zach Rynning set up in the pocket and threw the football more than 30 yards downfield. Teammate Derek Coffield ran under the pass and, behind the secondary, turned and ran in untouched for a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Zach Rynning set up in the pocket and threw the football more than 30 yards downfield. Teammate Derek Coffield ran under the pass and, behind the secondary, turned and ran in untouched for a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

That was the first touchdown for the offense Saturday for Kittson County Central in its 42-16 win against Silver Bay in the Minnesota 9-man high school football playoff quarterfinals. But it was just another in a long line of the Rynning-to-Coffield connections this season.

"I saw Derek breaking to the outside of his route," Rynning said. "I just threw it up where I thought he'd be and he went after it. We work on timing plays like that. There's definitely a connection between us."

Rynning throwing to Coffield has been the biggest weapon in the offense of the 9-2 Bearcats, who meet Wheaton/Herman-Norcross in a state semifinal game at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Metrodome.

Rynning, a senior quarterback, has completed 120 of 234 attempts for 1,883 yards and 22 touchdowns. Coffield accounts for almost half of the receiving end of Rynning's throws, as he has 57 catches for 905 yards and 12 TDs.

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"They have a special connection, almost a sixth sense," KCC coach Cory Waling said. "They almost don't have to look at each other -- they know what each other will do in different situations.

"Zach is a very smart quarterback. He makes good decisions. And he has the physical tools to put the ball where it needs to be. He's very accurate and he can throw deep. And Derek is such a good athlete, one of the best I've seen. Teams double team him, pay more attention to him, and he still gets the ball. He's made some outstanding catches."

The two can play off of each other's strengths.

Against Silver Bay, Rynning had a hot hand. He was 12-of-22 for 227 yards, completing passes to five different receivers. That helped open things up for Coffield, who had five catches for 117 yards. But in the Bearcats' previous game, a 28-26 win against Goodridge-Grygla in the Section 8 final, Rynning was just 8-of-21 for 178 yards. Coffield had six catches for 135 yards.

"Derek's made a ton of catches to make me look good," Rynning said. "If I'm off, he finds a way to catch the ball. He's made some amazing catches. I have confidence in him; I know if I throw the ball in the vicinity, he'll catch it."

Said Coffield: "Zach and I have developed a pretty good trust, a chemistry. I know he'll put the ball where I can catch it. He knows I'll go get it. He makes me look pretty good. Zach has pinpoint accuracy."

The Bearcats rely heavily on the passing game. They have more yards through the air (2,012, 22 touchdowns) than they have rushing (1,902, 24 touchdowns).

It isn't a one-man show in the receiving corps. In addition to Coffield, KCC has quality receivers in Tucker Cosley (17-309), Blake Nelson (17-288), Kyle Petersburg (17-213 in addition to 1,141 rushing yards), Fernando Blanco (16-184) and J.P. Mortenson (10-107). All of them average more than 10 yards per catch.

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With all those weapons, Rynning still has a No. 1 option.

"I have to remind myself sometimes to use all of our receivers," Rynning said. "I might concentrate on Derek too much. We have other very good receivers. But I always know Derek will make plays."

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to gdevillers@gfherald.com .

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