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St. Croix Central football team provides a memorable Homecoming experience

St. Croix Central quarterback Carl Moll threw for six touchdown passes, the highest total in the state for this week's games, during the Panthers' 47-36 win over Boyceville on Friday.

The high-scoring offense of the St. Croix Central football team put on an incredible show for the fans attending last Friday's Panther homecoming game.

The Panthers rang up 47 points, and needed them all, in a 47-36 win over Boyceville. The win is the third in Dunn-St. Croix Conference play for the Panthers, locking them into a place in the WIAA state football playoff field.

This was the third straight week the Panthers have scored 40 or more points in one game. Senior quarterback Carl Moll produced another herculean game. He completed 16-23 passes for 279 yards. Six of those completions went for touchdowns, the highest total among the high school games in the state this week.

"It was a crazy one," Central coach Tony DiSalvo said to summarize Friday's win. "Offensively, we clicked on all cylinders and defensively I don't think we hit on any cylinders."

The game featured two offenses that excel at what they do, though their styles are extreme opposites. Central moves up and down the field at a sprinter's pace with its non-stop passing game. Boyceville has a smash-mouth attack that pounds two running backs between the tackles.

"Those are the two best backs we've seen all year," DiSalvo said of Boyceville's Will Kraft and Zach Klassen. "They run hard and they don't stop."

While the final score appeared close, Central had firm control of the lead for most of the game. Boyceville scored the opening touchdown of the game, but Central responded by scoring the next five. Late in the second quarter the Panthers led 32-6.

While Central was scoring with quick strikes, Boyceville was methodically marching toward its scores. This left the Panther defense on the field for most of the night. Boyceville had a 72-47 edge in offensive plays run during the game.

With the Panther defense on the field so much, several Panther defenders rolled up huge tackle totals. Senior Cody Nyhagen led the way, with 21 tackles. Derek Binkowski, Aaron Delander, Brandon Booth and Tyler Lathe were all in double digits for tackles.

Nyhagen matched his defensive work with his role as Central's leading receiver on offense. Nyhagen caught six passes for 161 yard and three touchdowns in the game.

Lathe had a big night as a receiver too. He caught four passes. Two went for touchdowns and the others came on third down to get the Panthers a fresh set of downs.

Another player who saw increased playing time on offense was Delander. The coaches have been looking for an answer at running back since moving Nyhagen back to receiver full time. Delander was given the chance on Friday and proved worthy of the coaches' faith. He rushed seven times for 33 yards and blocked well. DiSalvo said the coaches are trying to get the team's best athletes on the field and Delander definitely qualifies.

This Friday the Panthers move out of Dunn-St. Croix Conference action. Instead, they will play a non-conference game at Arcadia. Arcadia is 3-2 this season, standing fourth in the Coulee Conference. Arcadia is the picture of balance, with an equal amount of passing and rushing yardage through the first five games this season.