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St. Croix Central football team shut out by Elk Mound

Central linebacker Alec Lamberty (55) gets ready to pursue a play during the Panthers' season-opening win against Baldwin-Woodville.

The last thing football fans expected from the explosive St. Croix Central offense was to see the team held scoreless.

That's what happened on Friday, when the Panthers were shutout at Elk Mound 35-0 in the opening round of Dunn-St. Croix Conference football action.

The season-opening win over Baldwin-Woodville may have lulled the Panthers into a false sense of security. Central coach Tony DiSalvo said the team has a number of areas where it needs to improve. After beating Baldwin-Woodville, the Panthers had an uninspired week of practice where very little improvement was made.

While the Panthers weren't inspired, Elk Mound was fully ready to give its coach, Dan Pedersen, a win in his final season against one of its oldest D-SC rivals.

"Elk Mound really turned it up, they were looking for us," DiSalvo said. "They played as well as they possibly can."

The first quarter of the game was scoreless, but Elk Mound broke away with three scores in the second quarter.

The Panthers were their own worst enemy on offense. The Panthers were called for eight penalties, giving back 75 yards on those calls, most of which came on offense. DiSalvo said there was one drive during the game in which the Panthers passed for more than 100 yards, but because of penalties and other mistakes, they weren't able to net any points out of the drive.

One of the areas where the Panthers struggled on Friday was blocking on running plays. The Panthers were limited to 38 yards rushing in 21 carries. The running game became so futile the coaches moved halfback Cody Nyhagen out to receiver, his spot last season, so he could be more of a factor in the game.

The problems weren't limited to the offense. Elk Mound was able to complete 14 of 22 passes against the Panthers for 227 yards. The coaches are looking for the Panther secondary to step up and play more physically, to prevent teams from running timing patterns with such success.

Nyhagen led the Panther defense, being involved in 18 tackles during Friday's game. Brandon Booth was involved in 13 tackles.

DiSalvo said one of the few bright spots Friday was the work of the receivers, particularly Tyler Lathe and Dante Carlson, who combined for 12 catches. Quarterback Carl Moll completed 22 of 36 passes for 200 yards.

The Panthers are looking to get back on track this Friday when they get a visit from the Colfax Vikings. Like the Panthers, Colfax lost its D-SC opener on Friday after dominating its season opener. Colfax lost to Boyceville last Friday, 36-14.

"We'll see what kind of heart and soul we have," DiSalvo predicted for Friday's game. "It's time for guys to step up."