Football: Area teams get knocked by opponents

North High senior running back Deon Benson (11) pushes forward for yardage against Henry Sibley Sept. 26. Benson rushed for 161 yards on 16 carries for two touchdowns in the 21-18 Homecoming loss Sept. 26. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

North High senior tight end Avery Ostertag (48), getting protection from Zach Lauzon (12), makes a 23-yard reception during second quarter action against Henry Sibley Sept. 26. The Polars lost their Homecoming game in the closing seconds, 21-18. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

(Linda Baumeister/Review)

The North High band performed Fight Song, What Stop the Tea, and Thrift Shop during the homecoming halftime show Sept. 26. Despite a standing-room-only Homecoming crowd at North Stadium, Polars fans left disappointed after Henry Sibley took the lead in the final seconds and won 21-18. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Henry Sibley senior running back Garrett Beaman (47) carries as North High defense swarms in. The Warriors won 21-18 Sept. 26. (Linda Baumiester/Review)

Week five of the 2014 football season proved to be less than fruitful for area teams. Homecoming festivities at both Hill-Murray and North High were dampened by losses Friday, Sept. 26.

Tartan traveled to South St. Paul and fared the same as every other Metro East Conference team that has faced the Packers at home. All the visitors have had the lower point totals at game's end at Ettinger Field.

Simley 36 - Hill-Murray 29

A jam-packed Hill-Murray stadium was treated to a MEC football shootout in an exciting display of offense on the part of the Simley Spartans and the Pioneers.

The only thing that was disappointing for the Hill-Murray Homecoming fans was the final score, 36-29.

The Hill-Murray coach Tony Danna shouldered the blame for the loss. "The bottom line is I didn't put the defense in a position to make the necessary plays. It (the loss) is 100 percent on me."

When asked to explain his position, Danna stated, "I guess I didn't get creative enough. It was an easy read for (Simley). They were checking it from the sideline.

"Give credit to their coaches for reading our plans. We were maybe a little too vulnerable," Danna said

Meanwhile, Simley coach Rex King told his players, "You just beat a very good team. Hill-Murray is a good football team, and you beat them. You can be proud of what you just accomplished."

Although the Spartans are now 4-0 in MEC games and having a successful season by most measures, King did explain, "I thought our defense gave up too much in the first half. We wouldn't have had to comeback the way we did if we would have done our job in the first half.

Echoing the feelings of the fans in the stands, King said, "I, too, thought it might come down to who had the ball last. Our quarterback (Michael Busch) made a big difference. But so did (Sam) Westby for Hill-Murray. He is equally a good quarterback.

"But in the end, we will take the win, look at the films and go on from here," King said.

The game was a shootout with big plays coming from both teams. The Pioneers scored first when they finished a drive with Westby breaking free for a 14-yard romp. He then ran for two points to make it 8-0.

The Spartans took the ensuing kickoff out to their 31-yard line. Workhorse Michael Avwunuma ran for 21 yards. On the first play of the second quarter Busch went 14 yards to the two. From there Avwunuma crashed across. Brad Rechtzigel booted the PAT and the Hill-Murray lead was cut to 8-7.

Simley's next drive began at its 14-yard line. It took four plays before Busch hit Cody Albright for a 41-yard pass/run for a touchdown. Rechtzigel made the PAT boot and Simley led 14-8.

The Pioneers started at their 36. Six plays later Westby laid a pass into the hands of Marshawn Wilson who brought the Hill-Murray fans to their feet with a 50-yard gallop into the end zone. Eric Burns booted the point after and the Pioneers were back on top 15-14.

The Pioneers' next drive began at their 20. One play and Jake Ogren sprinted 80-yards in for a score. Burns booted the PAT and it was 22-14.

Then the Spartans marched 66 yards in three plays. The big jaunt was a 34-yard TD romp by Cole Veith. The boot for the extra point sailed wide left and the half ended with the Pioneers ahead 22-20.

The Spartans took the second-half kickoff and marched 63-yards in seven plays. Busch had a 36-yard jaunt to the 1-yard line - and then scored the TD. He then went three yards for a two-point conversion to put Simley back on top 28-22.

Again Hill-Murray responded. Wilson finished off a drive that carried into the fourth quarter with a one-yard plunge. Burns booted the PAT and Hill-Murray regained the lead, 29-28.

The Spartans' final points came after a partially blocked punt gave them the ball at the Hill-Murray 38. Avwunuma broke free for an 11-yard trot into the end zone, and Busch ran in for the two-point conversion.

Henry Sibley 21 - North 18

A standing-room-only Homecoming crowd at North Stadium was disappointed as the Henry Sibley Warriors got the better of the Polars by a three-point margin on a last-second interception that resulted in the go-ahead points.

The Polars scored first in the opening stanza when Nate McDonald Jr. scampered in from five yards out. The Warriors' Jonathon Bjur blocked the point-after boot.

The Warriors came back when Dillion Orth pitched the ball to a running back and the sophomore quarterback got it back on a pass play and raced 59 yards for a TD. The point-after boot by Vince Berg was good and Sibley was up 7-6.

Before the intermission break the Warriors exploded for another TD. Vinny Belmares took a pitch and the Sibley tight end broke into the clear for a 47-yard romp to pay dirt. Berg booted the PAT and Sibley was up 14-6.

The Polars were first to get on the board in the third quarter when Deon Benson finished a drive with a 12-yard scoot. A pass for two points fell incomplete, and North trailed 14-12.

The Polars brought the crowd to its feet when Benson broke free from his 10-yard line. Ninety yards later he crossed the Sibley goal line. The extra-point kick sailed wide, but North owned an 18-14 margin.

The Polars were driving late in the fourth quarter when a Jordan Holt pass to Zach Lauson was intercepted by Xavier Hansen and run in for a Sibley score.

With 18 seconds left in the game Berg put the point-after kick through the uprights and the disappointed North fans left the stadium as Sibley gained the 21-18 triumph.

South St. Paul 49 - Tartan 8

The Titans ran into a South St. Paul juggernaut last Friday night.

The Packers scored in every quarter and on nearly every possession as they put 49 points on the scoreboard before Tartan was able to gain a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

The Packers got scoring from six separate players as they dominated the Titans.

Quarterback Dan Pietruszewski scored from two yards out. Trent McCloud went 65 yards on a punt return for a TD, before Malik Holmes scored from the 6-yard line to give South St. Paul a 21-0 first quarter lead.

In the second quarter Austin Brandecker pulled down a three-yard TD pass from Pietruszewski to give the Packers a 28-0 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter Andreas Martinez and Paxton Woods scored running touchdowns to give the Packers a 42-0 lead. 

In the fourth quarter Holmes kept the ball for a one-yard keeper.

After each of the Packers' seven scores Nick Ricci booted the point-after kick.

With the score at 49-0, Tartan quarterback Ben Engwer hit James Prell on a 32-yard aerial for a touchdown. He then found Lucas Miske in the end zone for a two-point conversion and the final 49-8 total was posted.

Up next

In MEC football action Friday, Oct. 3, will find Hill-Murray (3-2) at Sibley (2-2, 2-3) and North (0-4, 1-4) at Hastings.

In non-conference action Tartan (0-5) will travel to meet Fridley. The games begin at 7 p.m.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at


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