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St. Croix Central football team rebounds, mauling Colfax 40-6

St. Croix Central's Cody Nyhagen, shown making a catch in the Panthers' win over Baldwin-Woodville, is splitting his time on offense between running back and receiver.

The loss to Elk Mound in the opening week of Dunn-St. Croix Conference action left the St. Croix Central football team at a crossroads.

The Panthers found their way back to the successful style of football on Friday that made them D-SC champions last year. The Panthers tore into Colfax 40-6 to even Central's D-SC record to 1-1.

This Friday the Panthers hope to continue playing at that high level when they travel to Mondovi to face the Buffaloes. Mondovi is 1-0 in the conference after an 18-8 win over Boyceville on Friday.

Central's loss to Elk Mound was part of a difficult week for the Panthers. The coaches said the Panthers maintained a positive attitude and worked hard in their preparation for Colfax.

"I was really proud about how the kids bounced back," said Central coach Tony DiSalvo.

The Panthers were sharp in all aspects of the game. Quarterback Carl Moll played his best game of the season, passing for 248 yards and rushing for 91 more. Moll was involved in all six of Central's touchdowns in the game. He ran for three scores and he threw three touchdown passes, two to Tyler Lathe and one to Dante Carlson.

"Carl looked a lot more confident and our (offensive) line stepped up and played much better," DiSalvo said.

The Panthers locked up this game right away, scoring three times in the first quarter to build a 20-0 advantage. At halftime Central's lead stood at 34-6. The only blemish on Central's performance was allowing a 75-yard kickoff return touchdown by Colfax's Mike Hoover in the second quarter.

Offensively, the Panthers continue to become more diverse. The coaches have been trying to use Cody Nyhagen more as a receiver. They needed someone to step up to show they can handle the running back role. Wyatt Sain answered that call, carrying six times for 33 yards and showing he's ready accept more of responsibility in the offense.

The Panther defense also had a big part in putting the game to rest in the first half. Colfax was limited to 72 yards of offense in the first half. The Panthers also got interceptions from Aaron Delander and Nyhagen to set up first half touchdowns.

Nyhagen and Brandon Booth led the Panthers with 13 tackles each. Alec Lamberty and Kyle Aaby each recorded 10 tackles.

One of the reasons for the strong defensive showing was the progress of the Panther linebackers, Delander, Lamberty and Booth.

The Panther defensive ends, Lathe and Aaby, had huge games. They were able to get into the Colfax backfield all night, combining for nine quarterback sacks.

The defense will face another challenge at Mondovi on Friday. The Buffaloes will try to attack the heart of the Panther defense with their veer and mid-line option attack.

"This is a big game for us. It's never easy to win down there," DiSalvo said. "If we improve the way we did last week, we'll be okay."

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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