PIERZ -- While position players grab headlines and receive accolades, lineman simply go about their business.
That's what the fourth-seeded Pierz Pioneers' offensive and defensive lineman did Tuesday as they ran over the fifth-seeded Pine River-Backus Tigers 54-6 in the quarterfinals of the Section 8, Class 2A football playoffs.
The offensive line helped Pierz gain 225 yards and 11 first downs in the first half. They paved the way for Christian Even to score twice, Warren Gall once and Preston Loidolt once.
They also gave Mike Pohlkamp enough time to find Tyler Hoheisel on a 34-yard touchdown pass.
The line did all this in one quarter and three seconds.
"Our senior center Lenny Anderson, I'll let him go to battle with anybody," said Pierz coach Leo Pohlkamp. "He's very quick and very smart. Then you take our two guards, Nathan Britz and Matt Mrnak, who are also seniors and have experience from last year and do a really good job.
Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
Pierz starters Tyler Hoheisel (left), Brandon Gittner and Christian Even watched the Pioneer reserves play Pine River-Backus Tuesday night after the starters had built an overwhelming 42-0 lead before the first half.
"Then my two junior tackles, Cody Luberts and Brandon Grittner, are starting to come into their own. We do a lot of pulling, trapping and quick hitters so we use our line with good blocking angles. Right now we're really starting to run the ball as well as we can."
On defense, the Pierz lineman held the Tigers to 25 second half yards. PR-B didn't secure its first first down until 6:21 in the second quarter. They also helped Even, Loidolt and Nick Gruber collect interceptions and Justin Bednar return a fumble recovery 22 yards for another score.
When the starters left the field Pierz held a 40-0 lead.
"We knew they were a power football team that liked to run between the tackles and straight up the middle, basically right at us," said Mrnak. "The films that we had and the scouting reports that we had, we knew they weren't a passing team. Our coach Leo Pohlkamp and our defensive coordinator Dean Dahmen, they both put the line to the test.
"They thought we could take care of it and we did."
Gruber added a five yard touchdown run and Bryan Virnig had a 15-yard run for a Pioneers 54-0 halftime lead.
Jerron Boser added a fumble recovery and Aaron Schmidtbauer grabbed an interception for Pierz.
"This year we're as healthy as I think we've ever been," said Pohlkamp. "This was a good game for us. It gets us to the section semifinal game healthy.
"It's going to be fun Saturday because (Hawley) has 12 three-year starters up there. But I tell you what, our offensive line is going to come at them hard."
The third-ranked, but fourth-seeded Pioneers face top-seeded and fourth-ranked Hawley 2 p.m. Saturday with something to prove.
"We lost those first two games that were kind of heart breakers for us," said Mrnak. "We lost to Annandale, who's a pretty good team and we lost to Rockford by one point. We have something to prove. We got a taste of state last year when we got to the semifinals. The seniors and the few juniors that played last year we want it all. We want to go for everything."
Pine River-Backus 0 0 0 6 -- 6
Pierz 34 20 0 0 -- 54
PRZ-Christian Even 7 run (Jeremy Monson kick) 9:43
PRZ-Preston Loidolt 3 run (Monson kick) 7:43
PRZ-Justin Bednar 22 fumble return (kick failed) 6:20
PRZ-Tyler Hoheisel 34 pass from Mike Pohlkamp (Monson kick) 3:53
PRZ-Even 3 run (Monson kick) 1:53
PRZ-Warren Gall 1 run (Monson kick) 11:57
PRZ-Nick Gruber 4 run (Monson kick) 1:25
PRZ-Bryan Virnig 15 run (kick failed) :09
PRB-Alan Anderson 8 run (pass failed) 4:58
Rushes-yards -- PRB 26-95; Prz 49-302
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- PRB 3-12-11; Prz 3-5-0-64
Total offense -- PRB 38-106; Prz 54-366
Rushing -- Prz-Christian Even 7-79, Warren Gall 8-68, Kyle Bednar 9-37, Bryan Virnig 5-38, Joe Stangl 5-7, Nick Gruber 1-5, Hank Virnig 3-18, Mike Schirmers 2-5, Scott Herold 2-6, Aaron Schmidtbauer 1-0, Preston Loidolt 2-16, Chuck Boser 1-1, Scott Henneken 1-3, Tyler Swoboda 2-(-12); PRB-Luke Zebroski 14-29, Casey Stark 5-32, Alan Anderson 5-29, Thomas Anderson 1-5, Micah Eveland 1-0
Passing -- Prz-Mike Pohlkamp 1-2-32, Andrew Johnson 3-3-32; PRB-Casey Stark 3-12-11
Receiving -- Prz-Tyler Hoheisel 1-34, Herold 1-22, Jerron Boser 1-55, Chuck Boser 1-5; Micah Eveland 1-3, Thomas Anderson 2-8
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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