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It's no fluke: St. Croix Central football rolls past Baldwin-Woodville 30-12

St. Croix Central senior receiver Tyler Lathe (14) gains yardage after the catch during the Panthers' first drive on Friday. Lathe missed much of Friday's game with a knee injury, but is expected back this week.1 / 2
St. Croix Central senior Brandon Scheffler (63) puts a hit on Baldwin-Woodville quarterback Brody Peterson (3), forcing an incompletion in the first half of Friday's 30-12 Central victory.2 / 2

Anyone who thought St. Croix Central's two football wins over Baldwin-Woodville last season were flukes was proven wrong on Friday.

The Panthers won their annual clash for bragging rights in the center of St. Croix County, beating the Blackhawks 30-12 in Hammond to start the 2012 season.

By halftime on Friday the Panthers had built a 24-0 lead. The lead was 30-0 after three quarters, with the Blackhawks scoring twice in the fourth quarter.

Central begins its Dunn-St. Croix Conference schedule this Friday, drawing one of their toughest D-SC opponents in the first round. The Panthers play at Elk Mound, where long-time Mounders coach Dan Pedersen is rumored to be coaching his last season. Central coach Tony DiSalvo said Elk Mound has some excellent players and the Mounders will have plenty of motivation to try winning one more conference title for their coach.

While the Panthers were able to handle Baldwin-Woodville on Friday, the coaches saw a number of aspects where the Panthers need to improve their play. One of the main concerns for the Panthers will be better play from the offensive line.

"Offensively, we never got into a rhythm," DiSalvo said. "I know our kids will play better."

Penalties were another damaging area for the Panthers. They were called for nine penalties, with the flags badly throwing off the offense's continuity in the second half.

Much of the offense on Friday was procured for the Panthers by quarterback Carl Moll and halfback Cody Nyhagen. Moll led the team with 84 rushing yards, many coming on scrambles after the blocking had broken down. Nyhagen led the offense with five receptions for 117 yards. Nyhagen was all over the field as the coaches lined him up in the backfield and as a wide receiver. He also made one of the showcase defensive plays. Late in the second quarter he made a diving one-handed interception in front of the Panther bench. That turnover led to the Panthers' third touchdown of the first half.

The Panthers caught a break on the opening play of the game when B-W muffed the kickoff. That led to the Blackhawks starting their first possession at their own 10. A Panther sack moved the ball back to the BW 1. A BW punt only travelled to the Blackhawk 35. The Panthers wasted no time driving the short distance to the score. A pass to Tyler Lathe moved the ball inside the BW 20. Moments later Nyhagen scored on a 10-yard run.

The Panthers then had several possessions where the offense went nowhere.

It appeared another drive would stall when B-W was called for a 15-yard penalty for playing with 12 players on the field. The Panthers quickly took advantage of the break. Moll found Nyhagen with a pass at the BW 20. Nyhagen cut back across the grain to complete a 32-yard scoring play that put the Panthers ahead 16-0.

BW's next possession was stopped by Nyhagen's interception. On offense, Nyhagen made a 27-yard catch to move the ball to the Blackhawk 12. An 11-yard pass to Dante Carlson moved the ball just outside the goal line and Moll snuck the ball into the end zone on the next play.

If there was any hope left for BW, the Panthers snuffed it out by scoring on the first possession of the second half. Moll covered nearly the entire 62-yard drive with his running, including a 27-yarder. He finished the drive with an 11-yard keeper around right end.

DiSalvo was much more pleased with the performance of the Panther defense than the offense. The defense limited BW to 54 yards and three first downs in the opening half. The defensive line showed excellent promise, with Decker Grass, Tyler Christensen and Jake Bonte leading a strong performance against the run. DiSalvo said linebackers Brandon Booth and Alec Lamberty also performed well in their first varsity starts.

The coaches were especially pleased with the passion the Panthers displayed in this game.

"The kids really wanted to make a statement," DiSalvo said.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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