First, defenses need to find him.
Then, they need to stop him.
This season, that last part has been a problem for defenses when trying to contain the Crosby-Ironton Rangers’ Daniel Hudrlik.
The sophomore do-everything-player gouged Duluth Marshall Oct. 12 for 162 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-7 victory.
In the regular-season finale against Esko Wednesday, Hudrlik rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass.
The Duluth game was the first this season where Hudrlik lined up primarily in the backfield.
“We were just working on finding ways to get him the ball more often,” said Rangers head coach Mike Gindorff. “That week we put him in the backfield and just handed him the ball 16 times.”
Hudrlik has lined up as a receiver. He’s been the quarterback, lead blocker and ball carrier. He enjoys the variety.
“It’s fun,” he said. “It confuses the defenses and I like playing all those positions. If it helps the team, then great. Teams might key on me so that opens things up for our other running backs or to throw it to a more open receiver.”
The Rangers aren’t short on skill positions with seniors Zack Olander and Dylan Wasserzieher in the backfield, Jacob Leonhardt at quarterback and Caleb Baker at receiver.
“We’re just a big, strong team this year,” said Hudrlik. “We just want to play football and that’s what we do. We come out and play Friday nights. We want to keep winning and make it to state this year.”
Hudrlik at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, would be considered one of those big, strong players. His combination of size and speed is what impresses Gindorff the most.
“I can’t believe how powerful he is,” Gindorff said. “We have numerous times watched him stiff-arm a defender and he just puts them on their back. He is a tremendous blocker in open space. He’s probably as fast as Mark Hoge was and has as good of hands. He just adds a dimension few teams have.”
Hudrlik has rushed for 434 yards and eight touchdowns on just 63 carries, a 6.9-yards-per-carry average.
He has 15 receptions for 160 yards and five scores.
He’s helped the 6-1 Rangers convert four two-point conversions.
On special teams, Hudrlik has punted nine times for 480 yards, a 53.3 average. He’s returned 16 punts for 214 yards (13.4 average) and a touchdown and has six kick returns for 127 yards (21.2 average)
Defensively, he has 70 tackles, three interceptions and five pass breakups.
With numbers like that, plus the fact he’s already played two varsity seasons, it’s hard to remember he’s only a sophomore.
“It is hard,” said Gindorff. “He has a much different body than most sophomores. And, the way he moves and how he picks up and understands things, it’s scary.
“All I can say is, I’m glad he’s on our team and we don’t have to defend him.”
Other notable performances:
Football: Ben Boser, Pierz, completed 11-of-13 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.
Kyle Jansson, Staples-Motley, rushed for two touchdowns and caught another score against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
Dillon Card, Verndale, rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns against Brandon-Evansville.
Jeff Flickinger, Pillager, rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns against Pine River-Backus.
Devin Strack, Pillager, rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown and caught an 85-yard touchdown pass against Pine River-Backus