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St. Croix Central football opens MBC action against Ellsworth; game moved to 6 p.m.

The St. Croix Central defense has shown a knack for gang tackling, like on this quarterback sack in the season opener against Durand. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The message was clearly sent Friday.

When the dust settles in the Middle Border Conference football race at the end of the season, St. Croix Central fully expects to be one of the teams that has been in the thick of the battle.

The MBC battle for supremacy starts with games this Friday. Central will host Ellsworth Friday in the opening round of conference games. The game has been moved to a 6 p.m. start because of the weather threat on Friday evening.

Central sent a clear, loud message in its final preseason game on Friday. Elk Mound is one of the leading contenders for the Dunn-St. Croix Conference title, but the Mounders were no threat to the Panthers. Central won the game 49-7. Central led the game 35-0 at halftime, so the Panther reserves played the entire second half of the game.

Elk Mound is led by Brady Redwine, one of the leading rushers in the state. Just like in last season’s game, Redwine was no match for the Panthers. On Friday, Redwine rushed for 36 yards. That came after he ran for 206 yards against Chetek-Weyerhaeuser in the season opener.

The Central defense held Elk Mound to 108 yards of total offense. The Panthers churned out nearly five times that amount. The Panthers gained 452 yards on the ground and another 53 yards through the air.

Central’s offense was led by senior fullback Ryan Larson. He only touched the ball eight times, but he carried for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior Austin Kopacz continues look more comfortable in the quarterback role. He completed 2-3 passes and he rushed for 74 yards in six attempts.

“He wants to prove he can handle this,” said Central coach Tony DiSalvo, who said Kopacz is playing with a chip-on-his-shoulder attitude. “He threw the ball well and he played with some confidence.”

The Panther reserves played so well in the second half that they produced two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Taden Holzer rushed for 100 yards in the second half and Carter Zahl ran for 66 yards n 10 carries.

The leader of the Panther defense Friday was senior defensive end Derek Myer. Myer recorded three quarterback sacks in the game, all of them coming when the Mounders were getting near scoring position.

When Central hosts Ellsworth this Friday, the SCC coaches are expecting a stout test. DiSalvo said Ellsworth has excellent athletes at the ball-handling positions. He said Central will need to continue the progress it’s made in the first two games.

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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