October 26, 2022 at 7:17 p.m.
Stellar performance seals first round bye
With a first-round bye, and homefield advantage at stake, the Sauk Centre football team came up big with a resounding win over Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Oct. 19 in Sauk Centre.
The Streeters secured a bye, and second seed, in the upcoming Section 6AA playoffs when they played near perfect football in dispatching of a talented Tiger squad 36-16.
“I was overly thrilled when we got the bye. It gave the team some much needed time to heal up and just take a break. The home game will be very nice as we always play good at home,” said senior offensive/defensive tackle Carter Schuster.
Head Coach Charlie Warring added, “I was proud of their efforts. You feel good for the kids because of how hard they have worked.”
Sauk Centre will open their Section 6AA play at home Saturday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. against the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines, who defeated Staples-Motley Oct. 25.
To earn the bye, Sauk Centre had to defeat a team that had a great resume. MACA had been averaging over 30 points a game and collected five victories, including Paynesville and Pierz.
“We played at a level we are capable of,” said Sauk Centre Head Coach Charlie Warring. “Twice – Royalton – this year we showed we can play at a high level. It was huge because of what was on the line.”
Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta came into the game averaging over 30 points a game. The 16 points was a season low from the Tigers.
“Coach Krump’s idea was to get after him and make him uncomfortable and get him moving,” Warring said. “It starts up front; the defensive line (Schuster, Ethan Riley, Corey McCoy, Landon Wolbeck, Matthew Warring) has to get pressure on, make the quarterback move out of the pocket and hurry his throws. Sometimes he was sending the linebackers (Owen Christians, Nathan Lahr and Eli Fletcher) to put more pressure on. They were causing headaches up front.”
The pressure forced MACA into a 1-15 passing night. Their lone completion didn’t occur until early in fourth quarter. When the Tigers did get a pass off downfield, often times the Streeters secondary (corners Reece Blondin and Nate Schirmers and safeties Jeric Schloegel and Hunter Danielson) were in great position to knock the ball away.
“They have to be aggressive to the ball,” Warring said. “They have to win the one-on-one battles with the guy they are covering.”
Sauk Centre held the Tigers to just one first half first down and four in the game. The Streeters’ didn’t allow the Tigers to score a point until their ninth possession of the game, when they were staring at a 36-0 deficit.
“A lot of the pressure was due to well-timed blitzes and good communication by our defense,” Schuster said. “We played hard and worked together very well.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Sauk Centre got out to a quick start. Running back Eli Fletcher scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. They added one more score before half, when Matthew Warring broke out of the pocket and cut back for a 17-yard touchdown run.
“We were sprinting out to the left,” Warring said. “He got pressure and stepped inside, when he cut back against the grain there was nobody there.”
Sauk Centre added to the lead early in the third quarter when Warring hooked up with Danielson for a 37-yard touchdown pass. Their final tally came early in the fourth quarter when Warring scooted in from 9-yards out.
“I thought Rick (Meyer, assistant coach) and Spencer (Carpenter, assistant coach) had a real good mixture and we found a couple weaknesses that we wanted to exploit,” Warring said.
Fletcher was the leading ball carrier for Sauk Centre. He rushed for 155 yards. Warring carried for 73 yards. He also had 13 completions for 134 yards. His favorite target was Danielson, who hauled in nine passes.
“The guy’s up front (Troy Hansen, Luke Fiedler, Riley, McCoy and Schuster), were controlling the line of scrimmage and the kids carrying the ball were running with a purpose,” Warring said. “Our lineman will battle. Size isn’t a big deal. They are not going to back down from a challenge.”
Sauk Centre (5-3) will host Wadena-Deer Creek (6-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29 in Sauk Centre. The Wolverines have a high-powered offense that is averaging around 35 points a game.
“We have to play at a high level that we are capable of playing, win the turnover battle, control the ball and limit the big plays,” Warring said. “They (WDC) mix things up well and like to take some shots. They are creative in their passing game. We will have a similar approach to what we had against Morris. Anybody that throws the ball as much as they do will have the potential for big plays.”
M 0 0 0 16--16
SC 12 8 8 8---36
(SC) Fletcher 4-yard touchdown run (extra point no good)
(SC) Fletcher 1-yard touchdown run (2 pt. run failed)
(SC) Warring 17-yard touchdown run (Warring pass to Danielson for 2 pt. conversion)
(SC) Danielson 37-yard touchdown pass from Warring (Warring run for 2 pt. conversion)
(SC) Warring 9-yard touchdown run (Fletcher run for 2 pt. conversion)
(M) 73-yard touchdown pass (2 pt. conversion)
(M) 19-yard touchdown run (2 pt. conversion)
Individual stats: Passing, Warring 13-17-134 (1 TD, 1 Int.); rushing, Fletcher 27-155, Warring 15-73, Austin Helgeson 2-3, Damian Ahrens 1-3; receiving, Danielson 9-94, Fletcher 3-27, Nathan Lahr 1-13; rumble recovery, Warring; int. Jeric Schloegl.