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FOOTBALL ROUNDUP: Experienced Panthers blank Bulldogs

Carlton senior Ryan Adams carries the football against South Ridge during Friday night's nine-man game. Dave Harwig/news@pinejournal.com1 / 4
South Ridge sophomore Keyton Westgard runs the ball against Carlton during Friday night's nine-man football game. Dave Harwig/news@pinejournal.com2 / 4
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CARLTON—Reid Clark couldn’t play on South Ridge’s 2012 state semifinal football team because the then-freshman suffered a concussion and was restricted to the sidelines.

Nowadays though, the senior running back and co-captain uses the sidelines in a more productive way for the Panthers.

Clark rushed for 92 yards on just seven carries and scored twice, including the evening’s first and last touchdowns, as he helped South Ridge roll by Carlton 26-0 in a District 9 White nine-man contest last Friday at Jim Erickson Field in Carlton.

Clark, a 5-foot-8, 200-pound bulldozer out of the backfield, first found the end zone at the best time of night. His 9-yard scamper came just 39 seconds before halftime, breaking a scoreless 0-0 tie, and propelling the Panthers into a second half charge that they never looked back from.

“That score before halftime I think pumped us up a little bit,” said South Ridge coach Brent Johnson.

South Ridge quickly turned its 8-0 halftime edge into a 26-point blanking with big yard-eating plays. The pass-happy Panthers (3-2) — who are orchestrated by fellow senior co-captains in quarterback Zach Johnson and center Cole Watkins — spread out their offense and overwhelmed the depth-shortened Bulldogs (1-4) over time.

Johnson was 10-of-15 passing for 176 yards and two TDs, including a pair of strikes to sure-handed freshman Joe Janke, whose only two catches (of 14 and 71 yards) resulted in scores.

Johnson added 117 yards rushing to aid Clark, whose 30-yard fourth-quarter score put a once-close game out of reach.

“Everybody was pumped up,” said Clark, standing outside of the visiting locker room afterward. “It was a good win. We’re just looking forward to next week to try do it again.”

Carlton, meanwhile, plagued by low numbers, was competitive early, but simply couldn’t keep pace with the Panthers. Sophomore signal-caller Jackson Mickle rushed for 53 yards, yet the Bulldogs’ QB was 0-of-10 passing in the defeat.

Carlton coach Erik Hanson remained upbeat afterward, as his Bulldogs — despite being hampered by their miniscule roster size of just 21 players — have been battling weekly.

“The first quarter we played well and the second quarter we stuck right in there,” said Hanson. “We played to the best of our abilities. We lost 26-nothing, but we had a great effort.”

South Ridge, on the other hand, is a Section 5 contender. Cromwell-Wright and McGregor also look solid. Clark wants a repeat of 2012, only now, with him playing.

“I hope so,” Clark said with an encouraging smile. “We remember what they did. And we all really look up to them.”

AREA FOOTBALL ROUNDUP

Barnum (0-5) bowed out against East Central in a 50-14 Northeast Silver game last Friday at Barnum. The Eagles, centered by Casey Sura's four touchdown runs, one passing TD and 35-yard field goal, never trailed. The Bombers, still winless, got both of their scores via Colton Ziegler's 5-yard runs in the second and fourth quarters.

Cromwell-Wright (4-1) wasted no time against arch-rival Floodwood last Friday in Cromwell, as the Cardinals cruised to a 46-8 District 9 White nine-man victory. Eli Warpula and Carter Karppinen each had two touchdowns for the No. 9-ranked Cardinals on their way to a 46-0 lead. Kaleb Chiles carded the lone score for the Polar Bears.

Esko (4-1) edged Aitkin 21-14 last Friday in a Northeast Blue contest on the road. The Class AAA seventh-ranked Eskomos, which trailed late, rallied with a pair of fourth-quarter scores. Jerod Novak paced the host Gobblers with 96 yards rushing, while Caleb Curtis caught three passes for 81 yards.

Moose Lake-Willow River (4-1) ran past Pine City 24-0 in a non-district road shutout last Friday. Co-captain Thomas Hansen rushed for two touchdowns, one of which was from 70 yards away, while Bryceton Butkiewicz added the other in the Class AA tenth-rated Rebels' shutout of the winless Dragons.

FDLTCC (3-1) found another victory when the Thunder toppled Mesabi Range 20-7 in a Minnesota College Athletic Conference clash last Saturday afternoon at Virginia. FDLTCC was fueled by Te'Vaughn Hurse's 200 yards rushing on 24 carries, including two touchdowns. Cloquet's Logan Crowser added the other TD as he took in a fumble recovery — amongst several that the team forced — in the Thunder's turnover-creating ways.

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