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Prep report: MI-B, Grand Rapids finish unbeaten regular seasons

The Rangers' Damian Tapio ran for three touchdowns in a big win at South Ridge.

high school boys playing football
Damian Tapio (21) of Mountain Iron-Buhl runs with the ball against South Ridge on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Culver.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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CULVER — Mountain Iron-Buhl junior Damian Tapio ran for three touchdowns, while senior quarterback Asher Zubich ran for one and threw for another in the Rangers’ 59-0 win at South Ridge Wednesday.

MIB started a little slowly — losing a fumble on its first possession — but Tapio ran for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to get the Rangers rolling. Midway through the second quarter, Zubich hit Braylen Keith in stride on the sideline to put MIB up 24-0 on their way to 36 first-half points.

high school boys playing football
Riley Busch (11) of Mountain Iron-Buhl tries to break free from Anthony Lisic (24) of South Ridge while running the ball on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Culver.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

“They appeared to mostly be playing deep, but we caught them on that play,” MIB coach Dan Zubich said. “They were shaded to the other side, he was too close up and looking in the backfield, so Braylen was wide open.”

Early on, the South Ridge offense was able to move the ball, with freshman quarterback Benjamin Pretasky finding 6 foot, 9 inch junior receiver Austin Josephson for several early first downs.

high school boys playing football
Austin Josephson (88) of South Ridge makes a reception against Riley Busch (11) of Mountain Iron-Buhl on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Culver.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The Panthers tried to slow the MIB attack by using the entire 40-second play clock before snapping the ball.

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“We told them you’ve got to get a stop and get the ball back,” coach Zubich said. “Then when we got it, we tried to play as fast as we could.”

The MIB no-huddle offense really started moving in the second quarter, with Tapio scoring his third touchdown just before halftime. Zubich ran for another in the third quarter before reserves entered the game and added two more scores.

high school boys playing football
Damian Tapio (21) of Mountain Iron-Buhl breaks up a pass intended for Anthony Lisic (24) of South Ridge on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Culver.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

With the win, the fourth-ranked Rangers finish the season with a perfect 8-0 record and will have a first round bye in the Section 7 Nine-Man playoffs. MIB will next host the section semifinal game at 2 p.m. Oct. 29.

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Cole Lahti scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half.
University of Minnesota head football coach P.J. Fleck and members of his staff were in attendance.

high school boys playing football
Asher Zubich (2) of Mountain Iron-Buhl is called for pass interference against Austin Josephson (88) of South Ridge on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Culver.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Grand Rapids 31, Duluth Denfeld 0

The Thunderhawks put the finishing touches on an unbeaten regular season on Wednesday, stymieing Denfeld at Public Schools Stadium.

Owen Glenn scored twice, from 10 yards out in the first quarter and from 32 yards in the third quarter. In between, Ethan Florek and Aiden Chandler carried it in from 2 and 8 yards, respectively.

Denfeld finishes its regular season 3-5.

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Moose Lake/Willow River 7, Rush City 0

The Rebels prevailed in a defensive struggle that decided the Northeast Blue standings on Wednesday in Willow River.

The hosts got the decisive score early on a 40-yard touchdown run from Kaden Robbins with 4:14 left in the first quarter. The rest of the game was a stalemate, with the Tigers making a goal-line stand on the last play of the first half to keep it scoreless.

The Rebels threatened to score on two occasions in the first half, including a touchdown reversed by penalty, but ended up relying on the defense to finish the game off on Adam Neumann’s game-sealing interception.

MLWR goes into the section 7AA tournament with a 7-1 record.

Hermantown 30, Rock Ridge 8

The Hawks did all their work in the first half, getting three short rushing touchdowns from Josh Muehlbauer over the first two quarters to finish the regular season 6-2.

Muelbauer scored from 5 yards out in the first quarter, then rumbled in from the 1 and the 6 in the second quarter on a night in which he had 86 yards on 18 carries.

Alex Schott went 7-for-17 at quarterback for 141 passing yards. Blake Schmitz had three catches for 93 yards, while Peyton Menzel caught four balls for 48 yards.

Two Harbors 43, Proctor 0

Kyler Pitkanen had a short touchdown run, Deacon Bark went 50 yards around the left end and Zach Libal got in on the act as well as the Agates go into the postseason on a three-game winning streak.

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Proctor finishes its regular season 2-6.

Hinckley-Finlayson 40, Mesabi East 26

The Giants couldn’t keep up with the Jaguars’ rushing attack, as the hosts ran for 482 yards, 221 by Griffin Stiel, and six touchdowns.

A 29-yard pass from Landon Luke to Henry Depew helped Mesabi East close to within 20-14 at the half, but Hinckley-Finlayson scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, including the second of three for Levi Degerstrom and the second of two for Steel.

Cooper Levander ran for 102 yards on 12 carries for the Giants, scoring on an 8-yard run in the second quarter and returning a kickoff 66 yards to the house in the final frame. Luke was 9-of-13 passing for 110 yards.

The Giants finish the regular season 2-6.

Cherry 56, McGregor 12

Noah Sundquist threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter as the Tigers took charge of a Wednesday matinee.

The Cherry QB hit Isaac Asuma once and Noah Asuma twice for scores before a 54-yard QB keeper and a fourth TD passe, to Isaiah Asuma, in the second quarter.

The Tigers finished the regular season 7-1.

PREP SCOREBOARD

FOOTBALL

Cherry 56, McGregor 12

Grand Rapids 31, Duluth Denfeld 0

Esko 54, Duluth East 0

Barnum 42, Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin 8

Deer River 42, Chisholm 0

Aitkin 52, Hibbing 0

Hinckley-Finlayson 40, Mesabi East 26

Moose Lake/Willow River 7, Rush City 0

North Branch 40, Cloquet 27

Two Harbors 43, Proctor 0

Hermantown 30, Rock Ridge 8

Mountain Iron-Buhl 59, South Ridge 0

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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