STAPLES -- The high school football stadium in Staples is still called Cardinal field. No one has thought to sell naming rights yet. The band still plays the school song in the band shell while cheerleaders jump and tumble on the sidelines. Parents of players and other fans flow into the stands. A few tailgate in the parking lot behind the bleachers.
There's real grass growing between the goal posts. No plastic turf and no permanent rest rooms. All is as it should be on a football Friday in outstate Minnesota.
Things are good, too, for a young Staples-Motley Cardinals team that flew around the field on its way to a 21-0 romp over the visiting Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines in a Northern Lakes Conference game.
Staples-Motley coach Ryan Beachy credited the play of his offensive line for enabling Cardinal runners to rush for 223 yards and for giving S-M quarterback Matt Mosack time to hook up with his receiving corps for an additional 171 yards.
The offensive stats of the night belonged to senior Cardinal tailback Tony Johnson.
"In the game a week ago (a loss to Long Prairie), Tony was complaining that we didn't get the ball to him enough," joked Against Wadena-Deer Creek, Johnson got the ball every way possible, except for maybe buying one at the concession stand. In all, Johnson posted a glistening 235 total yards, carrying the ball nine times for 101 yards and catching five passes for 134 yards. His total would have been more if not for several Cardinal penalties that wiped out several big gains.
Staples-Motley opened the scoring quickly. The Cardinals' Nathan Thiede recovered a Tony Vittetoe fumble at the Wolverines' 30-yard line. The first Cardinal play was a 29-yard Mosack-to-Johnson pass that put the ball at the W-DC 1-yard line. S-M fullback Kyle Detloff punched the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard run and followed that up with a driving burst to earn the two-point conversion. Staples-Motley had an 8-0 lead less than 30 seconds into the game.
The Cardinals' next score came on a 20-yard pass play from Mosack to Johnson. It followed an apparent Mosack-to-Johnson scoring pass that was nullified by penalty. Sophomore Tyler Frisk booted the extra point and the Cardinals' lead stood at 15-0.
That score stood until the third quarter when the speedy Cardinals offense would strike again. Mosack threw his second touchdown of the game, a 21-yarder to Jason Tholl, that made the score 21-0. Frisk's extra-point attempt floated about two zip codes west of the left post. That was as close as either team would come to scoring again.
The Wadena-Deer Creek offense is built for controlling the ball. The Wolverines' front line has enough size to wear down a rival's defense. They came into this game determined to run the ball but their attempts were consistently frustrated by a swarming Cardinal defense that was mobile and quick to the ball.
Twenty-three times senior Wolverine running back Tyler Currie tested the Cardinals' line. Vittetoe, his backfield mate, lugged the ball another 12 times. Between them they rushed for 123 yards, 78 for Currie and 45 for Vittetoe. But the Wolverines' offense was never able to sustain a drive long enough to score. Wolverine quarterback Matt Schiller ran for 27 yards and completed just two passes. One was a 17-yarder to Kyle Davis, the other was an interception hauled in by Cardinal linebacker Adam Barnett.
While their defense was shutting down the Wolverine runners, the Cardinals' offense was moving the ball on the ground and through the air. Kyle Detloff finished with 14 rushes for 69 yards. Kyle Bendson rushed for 44 yards on seven carries. Mosack completed 8 of his 14 passing attempts for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
This was a big win for the Cardinal team.
"Wadena-Deer Creek is always a tough team," said Johnson. "We wanted this game bad. We talked about it all week. Some of our graduates came back and really helped us out with our intensity. I wanted to get the 100 yards rushing against Wadena-Deer Creek and I got it."
Wadena-Deer Creek 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Staples-Motley 15 0 6 0 -- 21
First quarter -- S-M Kyle Detloff 1 run (Detloff run); S-M Johnson 20 pass from Mosack (Tyler Frisk kick)
Third quarter -- S-M Jason Tholl 21 pass from Mosack (kick failed)
First downs -- S-M 12, W-DC 5
Rushes-yard -- S-M 31-223, W-DC 45-163
Pass comp-at-int -- S-M 8-14-0, W-DC 1-7-1
Passing yards -- S-M 171, W-DC 17
Total offense -- S-M 374 W-DC 180
Fumbles-lost -- S-M 0-0 W-DC 2-2
Rushing -- S-M Detloff 14-69, Johnson 9-101, Bendson 7-44, Mosack 1-9; W-DC Currie 23-78, Vittetoe 12-45, Schiller 6-27, Peter Hayes 4-13
Passing --S-M Mosack 8-14-0-171, W-DC Schiller 1-7-1-17
Receiving -- S-M Barnett 1-24 Johnson 5-134-1 TD Bendson 2-(4) Tholl 1-21-1TD; W-DC Kyle Davis 1-17
Conference -- S-M 1-0, W-DC 0-1. Overall --S-M 1-1, W-DC 0-2. Next game -- S-M hosts Warroad Sept. 15, W-DC at Roseville Sept. 15.
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