Panthers face Elk Mound for D-SC lead
It's been years since the St. Croix Central football team has played for the undisputed conference lead.
That's the case this Friday. Central and Elk Mound will meet in Hammond, with the winner standing alone atop the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings.
The Panthers put themselves in this position by going to Boyceville and winning the Bulldogs' Homecoming game on Friday, 14-0.
Central coach Tony DiSalvo said the Panthers are trying to treat Friday's game against Elk Mound like any other game. One change the Panthers will have to make is they will likely be without lineman Jesse Johnson. Johnson broke his foot late in the game at Boyceville and his availability for the rest of the season is still to be determined. Johnson is the biggest run-stuffer in the middle of the Panther defensive line.
"Other kids will have to step up," DiSalvo said.
If the Panther defense can play as well this Friday as it did at Boyceville, the Panther coaches would be thrilled. Boyceville was held to 51 total yards in Friday's game, including a -6 yards in the second half. Central's linebackers swarmed to the ball in Friday's game, neutralizing Boyceville's quick running backs.
"It really helps when you've got some speed at linebacker," DiSalvo said. "And it helps when guys are taking up the blockers like (Cameron) Sarnstrom and (Billy) Volkert on the ends."
The assignment this Friday for the Panther defense will be stopping hard-running Ryan Schumacher, who has led Elk Mound to a 5-0 start this season.
Brady Hughes led the Panther defense with 10 tackles at Boyceville. Craig Myer and Steve Gulich each had eight tackles and Curtis Sobattka had seven tackles.
The Panther defense had to come up with a big effort in the first quarter at Boyceville. An inadvertent whistle on a fumbled punt by Boyceville brought the play back. To make matters worse, Boyceville then blocked the second try at the punt. The Bulldogs used that excellent field position to drive to the Panther 10. From there the Bulldogs tried a field goal, but the kick was off target.
The next Panther punt went exactly zero yards, giving Boyceville excellent field position again, and again the Panther defense stopped the Bulldogs inside the Central 20.
The final play of the first quarter was a turning point. Jordan Kooiman broke free for a 26-yard run, getting the Panthers out of the terrible field position.
The Panthers then went on a drive. Ryan Fedie caught a 20-yard pass from Tyler Cody. Shortly after, Kooiman used excellent second effort to break away for a 24-yard touchdown.
Central's special teams struggled in this game. Boyceville returned the ensuing kickoff to the Bulldog 43. Moments later Boyceville fumbled a handoff, with Volkert recovering on the Central 47.
The Panthers then went to a no-huddle offense that caught the Bulldogs off guard. Fedie had two first down catches in the drive and Kooiman had a 16-yard run to set up the Panthers' second score, a 1-yard sneak by Cody with 5:35 left in the half. Kooiman's two-point conversion made the score 14-0.
In the second half the Panthers held the ball for much of the half. DiSalvo said the only disappointment of the game was that the Panthers weren't able to finish more scoring drives. Three times in the second half the Panthers had drives end at or inside the Boyceville 20 but couldn't convert any of those drives into points.
Kooiman led the Panthers with 143 yards rushing, doing some of the hardest running of his career. Cody completed 5-15 passes, with all five passes being caught by Fedie, for 70 yards.
"He played by far his best game," DiSalvo said of Fedie.
St. Croix Central 14, Boyceville 0
St. Croix Central 0 14 0 0 14
Boyceville 0 0 0 0 0
SCC -- Jordan Kooiman, 24 yard run (kick failed)
SCC -- Tyler Cody, 1 yard run (Kooiman run)
First Downs 16 5
Rushing Yards 224 45
Passing Yards 70 5
Passes 5-15-0 int. 3-6-1 int.
Penalties 4-40 4-25
SCC -- Jordan Kooiman 25-143; Craig Myer 10-49; Brady Hughes 7-21; Josh Armagost 1-10; Tyler Cody 1-1
SCC -- Tyler Cody 5-15-0 int; 70 yards
SCC -- Ryan Fedie 5-70