Defense rules the day; Offense keeps churns
Wolves gotta eat – and it was a feast!
Defense ruled the day for the Mountain Lake Area (MLA) Wolverine football squad, led by Head Coach Tim Kirk, during this afternoon’s (Thursday, November 2) Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Section 3 9-Man Championship game, played on the turf at Southwest Minnesota State University-Marshall.
And it was the offense who kept churning it in for scores, tallying their highest point total on the season, dropping Westbrook-Walnut Grove (WWG), 58 to 14, to head into the State 9-Man playoff brackets.
On the third play of the game, MLA quarterback Abraham Stoesz ran it in from 53 yards out to give the Section #4-seed at 6-0 lead. The two-point conversion failed.
During WWG’s (the #3 seed in the Section) first possession of the game, Stoesz intercepted in the Red Zone, and later, the speedy-quick Reynaldo Capetillo took it down the right side for a 76-year-old TD. The two-point conversion was a success and the Maroon-and-Silver were on their way with a 14-0 lead.
The Wolverine offense – returned the ball by a rock solid defense standing strong – went on a scoring frenzy in the second quarter, building on their 14-point cushion.
Fullback Jeff Wright – in beast mode on both sides of the ball – was MLA’s next scorer, on an option from Stoesz, took the hand-off and barreled 31 yards in for the TD. The two-point failed, but the Wolverines had expanded their lead to 20-0.
As MLA was rolling on offense and defense, WWG was rattled with injuries.
On another Chargers’ possession, freshman Mace Herrig nabbed a pass by WWG quarterback Anthony Ross and took it down to the 16-yard-line. Later, Wright added his second score of the night, pushing it in from three yards out. The two-point conversion, a pass from Stoesz to AJ Vongsy, was a success; the Wolverines comfortable at 28-0.
The defense was up next to score a TD for MLA, blocking a Charger punt recovered in the end zone by Isaac Grev. With a shotgun pass to Capetillo for the two-point conversion, the Wolverines were resting atop a 36-0 cushion.
Grev went on to recover a Ross fumble on the 21-yard-line during the Chargers’ next possession. A screen pass pass to Vongsy made the score 42-0, and a catch by Harder for the two-point conversion moved the score to 44-0 at the half.
A fleet-footed Vongsy took full advantage of the turf in the second half, grabbing a screen pass to go the distance – 60 yards – for another MLA TD. The two-point conversion pass to Zach Spinks was successful. The Wolverines sporting a 52-0 lead.
The Chargers got on the scoreboard with just under three minutes left in the third quarter, and made good on their two-point conversion; the game score 52-8 in favor of the Maroon-and-Silver.
Capetillo had a strong return on the ensuing kick-off and a penalty on WWG moved MLA into Charger territory. Freshman running back Herrig ran the ball down to the 10, and Stoesz faked the hand-off and took it across the line himself for the score. The conversion failed, but the Wolverines had a 58-8 margin.
Both teams went to second-team players in the final quarter. The Chargers did score another TD, but the two-point conversion failed.
As time wound down, MLA’s Ethan Nickel, in at quarterback, took a knee, and the Wolverines claimed the Section championship hardware – and moved on to State – with a final score of 58-14.
MLA (8-3) will play the #2 Section 2 seed, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (RTR) (9-2), who stopped the #1-seed (and previously undefeated) Red Rock Central (RRC) Falcons, 20-14, on Friday, November 10, at 5 p.m. at New Ulm Public High School.
In a regular season game at Munson Field against RTR on Friday, September 22, the Wolverines staged a fourth quarter comeback for the win, 26-22.
With a win next Friday, gridiron action for MLA would move to U. S. Bank Stadium for the semi-finals on Friday, November 17. They would meet up with the winner of the Section 6 (Nevis, 9-1) and Section 7 (either North Woods or Cook County, who play tomorrow afternoon – Friday, November 3 – at Esko Stadium) game, with a 9 a.m. kick-off.
The MSHSL State 9-Man title game, also to be played at “The Bank,” is slated for Friday, November 24, with a game start time of 10 a.m.