|10/3/2019 3:30:00 PM|
'Cats can't keep up with Elk River's high octane offense
The Elk River Elks’ offensive machine is an impressive sight to watch as it grinds its way down the field, chewing up five yards at a time. But if you are an opposing team or its fans, it’s not that much fun to watch. At their homecoming last Friday night, the Elks executed their offensive game plan, took advantage of some Wildcat mistakes, and scored a long touchdown to put the game away early in the second half as they beat the Wildcats 36-8.
After the Wildcats were forced to punt on their opening drive, the Elks went on a 14-play drive that took up most of the rest of the first quarter. They converted on fourth and one from their own 36 to keep the drive alive. On fourth and two from the Wildcat 16, the Wildcats stuffed the run up the middle and took over on downs. But the Wildcats went three and out and, after a punt, the Elks took over on their own 42-yard line at the start of the second quarter. They broke a tackle and ran for 40 yards on the first play of the drive. Three plays later, Rahim Avery scored from the eleven. The two-point conversion was good, and the Elks led 8-0 two minutes into the second quarter.
The Wildcats went three and out again on their next possession and the Elks took over on their own 48 with seven minutes to go in the half. This time they needed eight plays to score. Carter Otto went over from four yards out and, after another successful two-pointer, Elk River led 16-0 with just under four minutes to go in the half. The Wildcats started their next drive on their own 36. On second and 2 from the 44, Wildcat quarterback Austin Siefert rolled left and threw across his body to Ryan Sanvik, who was knocked out of bounds at the 29 after a 27-yard completion. On fourth and one from the 20, Siefert surprised the Elks by dropping back to pass. He connected with Kaleb Bruce in the front right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Siefert threw a pass to Ryan Sanvik for the two-point conversion and the Wildcats were right back in it, trailing 16-8 with 1:45 left in the first half.
But that didn’t last long. Starting at their own 35 after the kickoff, Elk River gained 28 yards on second down for a first down on the Wildcat 36 with 1:13 left in the half. Six plays later, Otto went up the middle for four yards and his second touchdown of the game with 16 seconds left in the first half. The Wildcats shut down the two-point conversion attempt but trailed 22-8 going into halftime.
The Elks put the game out or reach right away in the second half. Starting from their own 21 after the opening kickoff, Otto showed off some speed as he burst into the open and ran 79 yards for his third touchdown of the game to make the score 28-8 just 18 seconds into the second half. The Wildcats followed with a 12-play drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. On fourth and nine from the Elk River 16, Siefert’s pass attempt into the end zone was overthrown and the Elks took over on down. 12 plays later, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Elk quarterback Bo Ruby scored from the six-inch line on a quarterback sneak to make the score 36-8, and that’s where it stayed.
“If we had been able to go into the half down just 16-8, we would have been in a much better position,” said Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss. “Going in down 22-8 made a big difference. And the touchdown at the beginning of the second half was a killer. In order to beat a team like Elk River, you have to limit their possessions and take the ball away. That didn’t materialize. When they are on their game, they are tough to beat. Overall as a team they were much bigger and stronger than we were, and that became apparent as the game wore on. They were just too much for us. Their reputation is well-earned.”
It’s Homecoming for the Wildcats (2-3) this Friday, when they will take on the Andover Huskies (2-3) at Chisago Lakes High School starting at 7 p.m. Weiss said “Andover is a different style of team from Elk River in terms of offensive sets. There offense is very proficient, and their defense is solid, too. They are another one of those big schools that does things pretty consistently. Our margin for error will be small, so we will need to be at our best and get some breaks to put ourselves in a position to win. They are in the same place as we are, record-wise. In our district, Elk River is a cut above everybody else, along with maybe Rogers. The rest of us are right at that next level. It should be a good game.”
The Wildcats came out of the Elk River game without any major injuries and should get some injured players, including David Kimlinger and Mason Molde, back on the field in the near future.