’Jacks come through with win over BarnumHenry Backus rushed for a season-high 109 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, as the Cloquet junior led the Lumberjacks to a 26-20 victory over Barnum last Friday evening at Bromberg Field.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – Growing up, Henry Backus played several positions in youth football. Yet, with his strong fingers, durable hands and resilient drive to score, one spot has been a perfect fit: Running back.
Backus rushed for a season-high 109 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, as the Cloquet junior led the Lumberjacks to a 26-20 victory over Barnum last Friday evening at Bromberg Field.
“I’ve played since fifth grade,” Backus said. “I was a linebacker, safety, cornerback, tight end – everything, really. I like going up the middle. [Tonight] I just put my head down and kept driving.”
Backus’ 2- and 9-yard touchdown runs came in the fourth quarter. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder capped a clutch seven-play, 60-yard drive by barreling through the Bombers’ defense and stretching into the end zone for the game-winner with 1:35 left.
“He really started running hard,” first-year Barnum Coach Brian Robertson said of Backus, who carried the ball 15 times, including a dozen in the second half and four straight before his winner. “We were a little tired, but he just pushed the pile and carried our guys over.”
“He’s a tough kid,” Cloquet Coach Tom Lenarz added about his power running back. “Henry bounces off tackles, recognizes things and does a great job running low and keeping his legs moving. We made a few adjustments at halftime and we finished at the end.”
That didn’t happen the week before. In their season opener at St. Louis Park, the Lumberjacks (1-1) watched as a late lead slipped into a 20-13 double overtime defeat to the Orioles in a game they knew got away.
“We were a little bit disappointed,” said Cloquet senior quarterback Sean Kedrowski, who threw for a game-high 133 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Bombers. “Barnum is single-A, but this was a big win for us. We knew we had to continue fighting for it.”
Kedrowski threw a 7-yard, second-quarter strike to Dylan McIvor, while Marquez Evans also ran in to score before Backus shined in the fourth. Cloquet, which will next travel to Sea-Range Conference foe Virginia Friday night, also recovered a surprising onside kick to put the game away.
In a contest that included three lead changes and two ties, Class AAAA Cloquet fought for everything against Barnum (0-2). Lenarz said the game, tied 6-6 at halftime, was played evenly on each sideline.
“Barnum pounded it and did nothing flashy,” he said of the Bombers’ 271 yards on the ground. “I’d be surprised if they don’t have a great year. They’re a big, talented group.”
“We’re slowly getting better,” said Barnum senior running back Danny Warpula. “Playing these bigger schools will help us for the playoffs. And it’s better to lose by six than to win by 50.”
Warpula caught a touchdown from Zac Carlson en route to receiving for 103 yards and rushing for 106 last week, while running back Colton Selix ran for a game-best 117 yards and a score, along with Brandon Newman.
“We gave another hard effort, put some drives together and scored,” said Robertson, whose team fell in their season opener 21-6 against Moose Lake-Willow River. “We just want to learn from these better teams.”
“[Cloquet] was big, fast and strong, but it will benefit us in the end,” added Warpula. “I was wishing to break one there, but it didn’t happen.”
Fortunately for Backus, he got his breaker with the 9-yard winning plunge.
“At first I thought he was down, but he just kept pushing and then I saw the ref put his hands up,” Kedrowski said about the final touchdown. “We needed that. We didn’t want this one to slip through our fingers.”
Barnum will next travel to play Great Polar Red Conference nemesis Cook County Friday evening, while Cloquet travels to Virginia to face the Blue Devils.