Football Roundup: Storm helps surge Rebels’ rallyRead about the Rebels exciting come-from-behind win over Hermantown after lightning delayed the game more than an hour and catch up with all the other Carlton County high school football teams.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Looking back to his eighth-grade football season, Ezra Szczyrbak said he and his teammates trailed 21-0 in a game before later tying it with three straight scores.
Kind of like last week’s game.
The Hermantown Hawks had the lead against Moose Lake-Willow River in Thursday night’s game at Frank Magdziarz field in Willow River, then lightning struck and the Rebels rallied, coming back from a 20-0 deficit at halftime to a 24-20 win over Hermantown.
In the end, it was ML-WR that outlived an hour-long weather delay in the third-quarter due to a severe thunderstorm and tornado spotting in neighboring counties.
“This is Rebel territory right here,” said Szczyrbak, well-after 11 p.m. “We do not let teams come here and beat us.”
Hermantown did nearly that, as first-half touchdowns from Zach Royer, Casey Ehnes and quarterback Kole Zuidmulder made for a 20-0 halftime lead where the Hawks did nothing wrong and Rebels (1-0) did little right.
That’s when Szczyrbak, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound Moose Lake senior defensive end and offensive guard, spoke to his team at halftime. There, the Division I recruit — and one of just three returning starters from last year — reminded his young teammates of junior high and how they never gave up.
“We knew we had it in us,” Szczyrbak said.
Surging for 24 third-quarter points, the Rebels relied on their run-first offense with a 5-yard plunge first from Dylan Lovegreen. Later — following the weather delay where both teams went inside Willow River High School after sitting on their respective buses — Josh Pettersen parlayed a pair of 16- and 55-yard runs to move ML-WR in front for good.
Pettersen, who also recovered a fourth-quarter fumble, said he and his teammates stayed confident the entire evening.
“We didn’t skip a beat,” he said. “We played Rebel football. We know that we can’t let down this tradition.”
With the win, the Rebels extended their amazing regular-season, home and non-conference winning streaks to an absurdly-long 55, 41 and 25 games.
“They come to play football,” Hermantown Coach Daryl Illikainen added after the game. “We’ll learn so much from this film.”
As did ML-WR Coach Dave Louzek with his young team.
“Teenagers, you never know if they can keep their focus,” Louzek said nearing midnight, noting he’s never been in such a delay in his 15 years of coaching. “But for as bad as we started, and to come back like they did, you couldn’t ask for a better game. The kids really responded.”
Just as they did when they were eighth-graders.
Barnum bested Rush City 28-7 in a non-conference game last Friday on the road, as Zach Peterson, Cody Shelgren, Brandon Newman and Tanner Fuglestad all scored for the Bombers. Lightning suspended the game in the third quarter.
Carlton came up short in a 22-14 overtime loss to Lake of the Woods in the Great Northern game last Thursday. Cade Pierson — 50-yard fumble recovery — and Dominic Bennett — 148 yards rushing — each had TDs for the host Bulldogs.
Cromwell-Wright was a 28-22 winner over Northland last Friday in a Great Northern clash in Cromwell, as Hunter Rauvola reeled in eight catches, 103 yards and three TDs, along with Austin Pfistner’s 36-yard pass with 11 seconds left.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe opened practice this week, as the Ogichidaa will play a junior varsity-only schedule under Coach Christopher King. All home games are in Cloquet.
South Ridge stomped Bigfork 44-22 in a Big North contest last Friday in Cherry. Kody Karppinen threw for 339 yards on 22-of-33 passing and six touchdowns, including three TDs to Drew Janke and two more to Dominic Janke.
Wrenshall lost 42-33 at Onamia in a Great Northern game last Thursday, as the Wrens trailed throughout, yet got TDs from Hunter Pauly, Dustin Shelton and Justin O’Conner.
FDLTCC fell 34-6 to Central Lakes College Saturday in a Minnesota College Athletic Conference rout at Brainerd, Minn.