10/4/2012 9:45:00 AM Wildcats rout St. Francis at homecoming
Eric Brown speeds away from a gang of St. Francis defenders during Chisago Lakes’ 41-14 romping of the Saints. Photo by Doug Berg
Wildcat linebacker Joe Davis latches on to the St. Francis runner to bring him down. Photo by Kirsten Thompson
By CHUCK FITZER.
Mitch Berg threw four touchdown passes in the first half and Eric Brown scored two touchdowns and had over 100 combined rushing and receiving yards as the Wildcats crushed the St. Francis Fighting Saints 41-14 last Friday, September 28 at Chisago Lakes. The homecoming win in front of an overflow crowd improved the Wildcats’ record to 4-1 on the season, while the Saints dropped to 0-5. Josh Parks got the Wildcats on the board on their first drive of the game. On second and seven from the Saints’ 40, Parks took the ball up the middle, found a hole, cut back across middle ran all the way to the end zone to put the Wildcats on the scoreboard. Hunter Lindstrom’s extra point made it 7-0. Then Berg went to work with his arm. On the Wildcats’ next drive, the Wildcats faced second and seven on the Saint’s 34 yard line. Berg threw a fade to Miles Turk at the five and Turk stepped into the end zone to put the Wildcats up by two scores. Turk now has four touchdown receptions on the season. Later in the first quarter, the Wildcats were knocking at the door deep in the Saints’ zone.
On first down from the 13 yard line, Berg threw a nice ball to Brown in the corner of the end zone. Brown made the catch and the Wildcats led 21-0 near the end of the first quarter. The Wildcats had scored on all three of their first quarter drives. After a lost fumble and a punt on their first two drives of the second quarter, the Wildcat offense got back on track. On second and five from the St. Francis 48, Brown got a chance to show off his speed and elusiveness. Berg hit Brown with a pass near the right sideline at the Saints’ 30 yard line. Brown caught the ball and reversed field, running all the way back toward the other sideline. He turned the corner and outraced the Saints’ defense to the end zone, scoring his second touchdown of the game to put the Wildcats up 28-0. On the Saint’s next drive, the Wildcat defense forced a punt attempt. But there was a low snap. The punter picked up the ball and tried to get what he could, but the Wildcats swarmed him under at the 18. Parks picked up ten yards on first down. On the next play, Berg dropped back and threw a jump ball in Kellen Reed’s direction in the end zone. Reed outjumped the Saints’ cornerback for the ball and came down with it to put the Wildcats up 35-0 at halftime.
“It’s a nice advantage for us to have a big, tall target like Kellen in situations like that,” said Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss. Late in the fourth quarter, fullback Gabe Gustafson took an option handoff from Jake Sandgren up the middle, found a nice seam, broke a couple of tackles and took it 40 yards for a touchdown. The Wildcats missed the extra point, making the palindromic final score Chisago Lakes 41, St. Francis 14. Berg, who has 12 touchdown passes on the season, threw just nine passes in the game, completing six of them for 122 yards and the aforementioned four touchdowns. “The biggest thing about Mitch is that he’s very efficient,” said Weiss. “He puts ball where it needs to be. The offensive line and fullback Kaleb Paehlke did a great job of protection. Mitch had a lot of time for the situations where we did throw it.” Parks and Brown each averaged over ten yards a carry. Parks had five carries for 59 yards and Brown had six carries for 76 yards.
Fullback Paehlke picked up a tough 40 yards on nine carries. It was Brown’s first full game back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for a few games and limited him to one carry in the previous game against St. Louis Park. Weiss said “Eric played a nice game and he was back in a strong capacity. He’s feeling more and more comfortable so are we. I don’t think he’s put burners on all the way yet, but is certainly very effective and very fast. I predict he’ll be at full speed soon enough.” Weiss was proud of his team’s overall effort. He said “It was good night. We saw some good things offensively, defensively and on special teams. It was a fun atmosphere. We got lots of energy from the great homecoming crowd. Our defense held up especially strong.
St. Francis really pounded the ball at us. They rushed 55 times. One of their backs, Max Gust, ran the ball 41 times for 264 yards. He got his yards, but for the most part we were able to keep him out of the end zone when they got close.” Weiss talked more about the team’s stellar defensive effort. He said “Joe Davis had another pretty solid game on defense. Bradee Thompson played a great game against their tight end all night. And Matt Hasselquist played very well, showing up all over the field when a play needed to be made. Josh Dutcher made a couple of big plays near the goal line. We have a bend but don’t break philosophy on defense and, for the most part, when we need stops our guys made stops. Even when we put the reserves in late in the game against their first team offense, we were able to hold them out of the end zone.” Tomorrow night, the Wildcats head to Benilde-St. Margaret’s to take on the Red Knights (2-3). “We are hitting the meat of the schedule,” said Weiss. “We’ve always had great games with Benilde. They have nice athletes, are well coached and well prepared for games. We always look forward to playing them. We know we’re going to have a tough, competitive football game.”