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Morris Area earns No. 4 seed

Morris Area defeated Montevideo 34-20 Tuesday to secure a home playoff game for the first round of the Section 5AA football tournament.

Both teams finish the regular season 4-3 in the West Central Conference South and 5-3 overall.

The Tigers earned the No. 4 seed in the section and will host fifth-seed Minnewaska Tuesday at Big Cat Stadium.

When Morris Area traveled to Minnewaska Sept. 11, the Tigers shut out the Lakers 16-0. The Lakers finish the regular season 4-4.

A win on Tuesday would pit the Tigers against either Eden Valley-Watkins or Benson Saturday at the higher seed. The No. 1 Eagles are undefeated this season, while Benson is the eighth seed with a 2-6 record.

The Section 5AA championship game will be held at Big Cat stadium on Nov. 6.

Coach Jerry Witt said he'll gladly take a home-field advantage, even though he would rather be playing a team the Tigers haven't seen this season.

With the reconfiguring of the sections, the bracket includes seven teams from the West Central South. The only exception is Eden Valley-Watkins.

Minnewaska is always a good rival for the Tigers.

"We're familiar with each other," said Witt.

On Friday, Morris Area took a commanding lead shutting out the Thunder Hawks 19-0 until late in the second quarter. Tyler Hansen, Ethan Bruer, and Grant Gagner scored the Tiger touchdowns.

After Montevideo got on the board with less than a minute remaining in the first half, the Tigers regained their momentum before halftime. The Tigers scored a touchdown from the 38-yard line when Ryan Beyer passed to Tanner Berning, who used a lateral pass to Hansen with four seconds left in the first half for a 25-7 lead.

Hansen rushed for his third touchdown of the game in the third quarter.

Morris Area added two points on a safety when the ball snapped out of the endzone in the fourth quarter.

The Thunder Hawks managed two second-half touchdowns.

Witt said his team moved the ball well in the first half.

"Defensively, we made some big plays, too."

Witt said his players are getting familiar at their positions.

"It's a maturing process," he said. "We're making some strides."

The Tigers have also learned their strong points, as well as weaknesses, and are working on improvements.

"When you're conservative on offense, you have to shore up the rest of the game.

"You have to have confidence in your teammates," added Witt.