Football round-up: Irondale season ends in a shut out
BY Ryan Schleicher – SUN NEWSPAPERS
The sun officially set on the Irondale Knights’ season Oct. 23 as they were unable to find a way to put points up on the board against Mahtomedi in the first-round of the section 4AAAAA playoff bracket.
A tightly contested game did not see a whole lot of scoring as defense controlled the tempo by stopping any momentum either offense tried to gain. Mahtomedi prevailed in the end with a 14-0 shut-out of Irondale. The Knights had been shut out only one other time this season when they played against a very potent South St. Paul team who ended up going undefeated throughout the regular season.
A strong defensive effort kept the Knights in the game against Mahtomedi holding them to just a touchdown through three quarters. Unfortunately that was just not enough spark to light a fire within the offense as they struggled to gain any rhythm. Offensively the Knights were led this season by senior quarterback Justus Canfield who threw for a team high 569 yards and also rushed for another team high 664 yards. Irondale finishes the season with a record of 5-and-2 within conference play and an overall record of 5-and-3.
Fridley loses to end season
An old cliché that many people tend to believe is often muttered amongst ourselves time-and-time again: Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Apparently Benilde-St. Margaret’s learned something the last time they played Fridley and were stomped by being outscored by 30 points losing to Fridley 51-21.
Fridley came into their first-round matchup Oct. 23 in the section 6AAAA playoffs feeling optimistic. The Tigers had won their final regular season game against St. Louis Park, and Fridley simply outmatched Benilde-St. Margaret’s when they played against each other. In addition the Tigers had distanced themselves from the sour memories of the 2011 season by surprising everyone with such improvement in 2012 — not to mention they also had the number one rated quarterback in the North Suburban Conference. However, none of these facts deterred Benilde-St. Margaret’s as they ran away with this contest shutting out Fridley while scoring 40 points in the process.
The Tigers do have a lot to look forward to next year even with such a loss to end their season. Not only does the team seem to be heading in the right direction by improving from last year but they also have the privilege of having one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the state playing for them.
Junior quarterback Nick Rathke lit up his passing game this year by throwing for 1,479 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those achievements by Rathke contributed to the Tigers going 2-5 in North Suburban Conference play. The Tigers finished the 2012 season with an overall record of 3-and-5.
Columbia Heights downed by Minnehaha Academy
All the air was taken from beneath the sail of the Columbia Heights Hylanders as they came up short against Minnehaha Academy Oct. 23 in their first-round playoff game of the section 4AAA tournament.
The Hylanders looked as though they might pull off a surprising upset as they held Minnehaha Academy to just a single touchdown through three quarters. Columbia Heights took a 16-7 advantage into the fourth quarter — where Minnehaha Academy apparently found their swagger. Minnehaha rattled off 22 unanswered points as the defense for the Hylanders could not find the answer which allowed them to take a 29-16 victory ending any chances of a Columbia Heights upset and ending their season in the process. The Hylanders were led this season on the ground offensively by D’Aireus Mock finished the season with 979 total rushing yards. Mock and the rest of the Hylanders finished the season with a 4-and-4 record overall.
Totino-Grace flies into section championship game
The Eagles of Totino-Grace soared right on past Mahtomedi in their semi-final matchup Oct. 27 in the section 4AAAAA playoff bracket.
Totino-Grace Head Coach Jeff Ferguson had his defense playing lights out as they stopped Mahtomedi in their tracks and prevented the Mahtomedi offense from gaining any momentum by shutting down the passing game forcing them to become one dimensional through running the ball. Mahtomedi’s star running back Jackson Hull provided a big game on the ground as he rushed for 242 total yards and the Zephyrs only touchdown.
In the first half the Eagles showed why they are the number one ranked team in Class 5A as they forced Mahtomedi to punt one possession after another. Sophomore running back Kez Flomo opened the scoring by running in a touchdown from four yards out to give Totino-Grace a seven-nothing lead.
Following an A.J. LaPanta fumble in which the Zephyrs recovered, Jackson Hull carried Mahtomedi into the end zone capping an eight play, 51-yard drive. A missed extra point kept the score at 7-6 going into halftime. That is where the Eagles decided to spread their wings. They came out in the second half with the defense and offense clicking as one cohesive unit.
A defense that shut down any offensive threats Mahtomedi tried to establish breathed fire into an offense that looked stagnant throughout the first half. Totino-Grace tallied two more touchdowns on the day from an 11-yard run from Kez Flomo and a 2-yard run from Mason Kaliszewski that sealed the final score of 21-6. Coach Ferguson was quick to point out that his team’s sloppy play should not be disregarded in this victory and that there were teachable moments that will allow the Eagles to become better prepared for their next matchup.
The Eagles’ next obstacle into the state tournament is Spring Lake Park who the Eagles will host Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. to decide who represents section 4 in the Class 5A state tournament.
Perhaps coach Ferguson said it best when he exclaimed, “Football is a sport that rewards hunger.” The only question left to be answered is: who’s hungry?