“All of our kids worked extremely hard over the last year to improve our shooting and I believe we have made great strides in that area,” Devney said. “After shooting 2-for-21 from the three-point line against Annandale in the state tournament last year, the players took it upon themselves to make sure that does not happen again. If we shoot like we are capable, defenses will not be able to collapse on Adam like they did last year.”
“This is the first time that we’ve been mentioned in the Minnesota wrestling periodical newspaper with a ‘lean and mean’ status,” commented CEC coach Al Denman. “That status means we are a team who could likely be ranked in the top 10 or 12 teams in the state in Class AA as the season progresses.”
While the Eskomos knew a bit more about what they had coming into the season as far as personnel, the Lumberjacks were welcoming back coach Young, who returned to the bench for the first time in 12 years and is the last head coach to lead the ’Jacks to the state tournament back in 2004.
“We wore them down on Saturday and I felt we were really able to take control of the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter,” Lenarz said. “In my opinion this speaks to our conditioning and the weight program in the summer and during the season. We have worked hard with the guys at Impact Sports for several years now and they do such a good job with our kids.”
At times the game had more laundry (in the form of penalty flags) on the field than a local laundromat. Both teams were flagged numerous times and the officials had all they could do to reel in the players on both sides.
“On a team that is as young as we are, you need leaders who can show them how to get things done both on and off the field. Dedicating yourself to the team, to offseason work, and in-game efforts is an important thing for those young guys to see,” Klyve said.
“The big kid (Sykes) is something we didn’t have an answer for,” said Rebel coach Dave Louzek. “We were undersized all season long and tried four-man and five-man fronts and tried blitzing our linebackers, but then their quarterback would get to the outside.”
“That play was huge,” said Wrens coach Brent Johnson. “Nick was able to hit Mark in stride and it was a foot race to the end zone.”
“Kelley is a very good and quick back,” said Johnson. “To rush for as many yards as he had and for their team not to come out on top doesn’t happen very often. Through the first half, the game was tight with South Ridge taking a 22-14 lead into the locker room at intermission.
“The expectations coming into the season were to improve on last season and continuing to get better both as a team and at the individual level,” explained Klyve. “There were a few games we let get away that I felt we could have won, but overall the improvement from week to week is always our goal.”