SPARTAN FOOTBALL TEAM HEADED TO THE SECTION FINALS
“Here we go again,” said Coach Weiland after a shocking 19-15 victory over the defending state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights in the section semi-finals. Weiland is referring to a late season run similar to last season’s which saw the Spartans make it to the state tournament.
The Benilde game finished a hectic week which saw the Spartans travel to Blake on Tuesday night, defeating the SMB Wolfpack 36-7, and then turning around and playing again against the well-rested Red Knights. “This is always the worst, or sometimes the best, week of the season. It is physically hard on the kids, and mentally taxing on the coaches, but if you can win both of the games you carry a lot of momentum into the section championship.”
SMB GAME SUMMARY
The Spartans got the #5 seed in the section and had to travel to Blake to play the #4 seeded SMB Wolfpack. SMB brought a 6-2 record into the game, but the competition they play during the season is not at the level of the Spartans, so Coach Weiland believed that the match-up was favorable for the Spartans. “We saw them on film and realized that we had a good chance to win. The kids worked really hard over the MEA break and came ready to play.”
SMB struck first in the game, scoring on a short field after a Spartan fumble. The Spartan’s first score really seemed to turn the game around. The Spartans forced the Wolfpack to punt from their own 18-yard line and the punt snap sailed out of the end zone for a Spartan safety. The Spartans took the ensuing kick-off and scored its first touchdown with 30 seconds left in the half for a 9-7 lead. With the wind howling in the second half, the Spartans took the wind and scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to take command of the game. The Spartans score two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter and finished a very solid 36-7 victory.
The Spartans were balanced on offense, gaining 135 yards passing and 137 yards on the ground. Nick Prentice was 10 of 13 passing, spreading the ball to five different receivers. Jarvis Omersa led the Spartans with four catches for 40 yards. Zane Taylor added three catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. Jimmy Buck, Tommy Deters, and Bobby Striggow each had one catch, with Deters converting his for a touchdown. Striggow led the Spartan rushers with 101 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. The Spartan defense played its best game of the season, limiting the Wolfpack to 121 yards, and only 56 yards passing. Caleb Limesand led the defense with 20 defensive points, a fumble recovery, and a QB sack.
BENILDE GAME SUMMARY
Tuesday’s victory set up a rematch of week #2 of the season when the Red Knights beat the Spartans 14-0 in a very physical game at Orono. “When we looked back at that first game, we knew that we could play with them. We just needed to match their intensity and physical play.” That is exactly what the Spartans did on Saturday night. Just like the SMB game, the Spartans found themselves down 7-0 in the first quarter. The offense started moving the ball after the Red Knight score and got on the board with a 29-yard Max Blaschke field goal at the end of the quarter. Blaschke kicked a second field goal in the second quarter, and the game was 7-6 at halftime.
The Spartans struck first in the second half with Nick Prentice finding Zane Taylor for a 22 yard strike and the Benilde crowd suddenly got nervous. While Benilde had the ball in the Spartan end of the field for most of the second half, they couldn’t break the Spartans for a score. “Our defense was remarkable tonight. Several games this season we had our backs against the wall and allowed the opponents to score and break our will. Tonight, we just refused to break.” Captains Bobby Striggow, Caleb Olson, and Grant Perry all played one of their best games of the season and shut down the Red Knights for the rest of the evening.
It was not going to be a clean win, however, as with 5:28 left in the game, Nick Prentice threw an interception and Benilde returned it for a touchdown and a 15-12 lead. On the ensuing kick-off the Spartans fumbled the kick-off and the Red Knights had the ball in Spartan territory again with a chance to put the dagger in the Spartan’s season. The defense rose up again and stopped the Red Knights in six plays, and gave the offense the ball at the 30-yard line. Prentice shook off the pick-six and drove the Spartans down the field, completing 4 of 4 passes and running the ball for a key first down. The final completion was to Jarvis Omersa for seven yards and the go-ahead touchdown with 50 seconds remaining in the game. The Red Knights had one more chance, but Mitch Hirschberg intercepted his third pass of the game to seal the victory.
The Spartans now have a chance to avenge a week-eight loss to the Academy of Holy Angels in the section championship game. The game is in Richfield at 7:00 on Friday, November 3rd. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Rocori v. Fergus Falls game on Friday, November 10th at 5:00 in St. Cloud in the state quarter final round.
SCORING SUMMARY - SMB
SMB: WASHINGTON 5 YD RUN (CROSBY KICK)
ORONO: SAFETY, BALL SNAPPED OUT OF END ZONE
ORONO: STRIGGOW 5 YD RUN (BLASCHKE KICK)
ORONO: STRIGGOW 4 YD RUN (BLASCHKE KICK)
ORONO: DETERS 32 YD PASS FROM PRENTICE (BLASCHKE KICK)
ORONO: STRIGGOW 1 YD RUN (BLASCHKE KICK)
ORONO: TAYLOR 27 YD PASS FROM PRENTICE (KICK FAILED)
FINAL SCORE ORONO 36 – SMB WOLFPACK 7
SCORING SUMMARY - BENILDE
BENILDE: MARINARO 39 YD RUN (WOLFE KICK)
ORONO: 29 YD FG BY BLASCHKE
ORONO: 22 YD FG BY BLASCHKE
ORONO: TAYLOR 22 YD PASS FROM PRENTICE (RUN BY OLSON FAILED)
BENILDE: SELLKE 29 INT. RETURNED FOR A TOUCHDOWN (MARINARO RUN FOR TWO)
ORONO: OMERSA 7 YD PASS FROM PRENTICE (BLASCHKE KICK)
FINAL SCORE ORONO 19 – BENILDE 15