R-P football ends season in second round of section play

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The Rushford-Peterson football team saw its season come to an end in the second round of the Section 1A football playoffs, dropping a 20-7 rematch at Goodhue on Saturday night, Oct. 27th .

The Trojans had opportunities to score more points but could only muster one touchdown in four trips to the red zone against the Goodhue defense. R-P ended the season at 6-3 overall.

“We moved the ball well on them, starting with our first drive,” said Trojans coach Davin Thompson. “The first drive, we moved the ball all the way down and came up just short on a fourth down. Goodhue might have the best defense in the district and the section. They’ve got the two O’Reilly brothers at defensive tackle and a couple defensive ends that play really well, too. That whole defense really flies to the football.

“We moved the ball well all night long,” he added. “If you look at the stats, they might have a few more first downs but the yards are close. They had a few more rushing but we had a few more passing yards. In the first half, we, unfortunately, were called for a chop block when Ethan Sense was standing in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. We got to the red zone four times but only came away with one touchdown.”

Points were hard to come by in the first half. Goodhue scored the first points of the game in the second quarter, but missed on the extra-point attempt. The Wildcats led 6-0 at halftime. Goodhue added a second touchdown in the third quarter, then converted on a two-point conversion to go up 14-0.

The Trojans’ only points of the game came in the fourth quarter, but Goodhue added another six points to salt the game away, 20-7.

The Trojans ran 57 offensive plays for 235 total yards. The running game faced some tough going against the Wildcats’ defense. The Trojans ran the ball 34 times and came up with 82 total yards (2.4 yards per carry) and zero touchdowns. Ethan Sense was the top rusher, carrying the ball 16 times for 53 yards (3.31 yards a carry). Quarterback Landon Skalet added 19 yards on eight carries, with fullback Carter Weidemann rushing five times for 16 yards.

Most of R-P’s yards came through the air, with Skalet completing 13 of 23 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. Ethan Hermanson was Skalet’s favorite target, catching eight passes for 79 yards and the lone touchdown. 

“The game was a credit to coach (Tony) Poncelet and Goodhue,” Thompson said. “They did a great job of covering our receivers and taking away some things we wanted to do.

“Defensively, we played pretty well. In the first half, we gave up just the one scoring drive. After we turned it over on downs, the defense pitched a three-and-out right away and gave the ball right back to the offense. Goodhue is tough to defend with their pulling and misdirection, but overall, I thought we did a good job.”

Thompson said it would have been easy for the team to get frustrated with the missed scoring opportunities and let it affect their play. However, he and the rest of the R-P coaches thought the team never stopped playing hard all night.

“That’s what we told them after the game,” Thompson said. “We were so proud of their efforts and how hard they played for each other. We had a couple guys out and some others who were banged up but playing through it, but they still played hard and for each other. They showed guts and grit, everything a coach could ask for.

“This team has grown a lot this year, too,” Thompson added. “They always played hard and wanted to win. The challenge is to take that desire and translate it to the field. Over the second half of the season, they really did that. They put everything they had into it, but unfortunately, we came up just a little short.”

Weidemann led the Trojans defense with 11 tackles. Hermanson had the team’s lone interception.

Looking ahead

The team will say goodbye to nine seniors, including the entire offensive backfield; quarterback Landon Skalet, running back Ethan Sense, and fullback Carter Weidemann. The graduation list also includes Ian Brown, Brennan Volkman, kicker Nolan Mueller, Matt Nelson, Dominic Jenkins, and Riley Koop.

“It’s a lot of guys who’ll be missed,” Thompson said. “They all leave their fingerprint on the program and taught the younger guys how to work and win, as well as play for each other.

“We’ll also have a lot of kids coming back who contributed a lot this season,” he said, “including Kobe Lind, Triton Meldahl, and Ethan Hermanson, who was arguably our best offensive threat, as well as a couple of offensive linemen. We have some good guys coming back. We’re just going to get into the weight room, work on our speed, and get back to work.”