Trojans drop football opener


TCR/SCOTT BESTUL In the August 30 opener, the young Trojan football team fell to Blooming Prairie 46-0. Pictured above is sophomore quarterback Malachi Bunke (center) searching for an open re- ceiver against a tough BP defense.
By: 
Chad Smith

The Rushford-Peterson football team struggled in its season opener, dropping a sub-district home game against Blooming Prairie 46-0 on Friday night.

The Awesome Blossoms threw the ball all over the field and topped 400 yards in total offense against a young Trojan team that couldn’t get things going consistently. The Trojans are 0-1 overall and in the Mid-Southeast District (Blue Sub-District).

R-P head coach Davin Thompson said the Blossoms showed his young team what good football is all about. “We told the kids after the game that this season is a journey,” he said. “Now we know where the bar is. BP’s two linebackers (Mitchell Fiebiger and Dylan Nirk) are really seasoned players. (Wide receiver) Gabe Hagen is a beast offensively (8 catches, 83 yards, 3 TDs) but played well defensively too.

“Their cornerbacks (Karson Vigeland and Zach Weber) are really good as well, and they wouldn’t let (wide receiver) Kobe Lind get a clean release off the line of scrimmage. It made things much more difficult for us.”

Each teams’ first drives painted a picture of the entire game. Thompson said the Trojans offense moved the ball well on their first possession, getting a couple of first downs and pushed into Blossom territory before punting. “Their first possession, we had them on a couple of third downs and couldn’t get off the field,” Thompson said. “On the touchdown play, our defensive lineman, Sammy Kingsley, had the guy half wrapped up in the backfield. The guy spun out of the tackle, ran around the end and scored.”

The Trojans only mustered 146 yards of total offense, while Blooming Prairie piled up 487 yards of total offense, with well over half that figure coming through the air. Senior quarterback Kaden Thomas completed 14 of 17 passes for 216 passes and four touchdowns. He spread the ball around as seven different receivers caught passes. The Blossom ground attack gained 161 yards on 22 carries.

The Trojans offense couldn’t generate a lot of momentum against the Blossom defense. R-P rushed the ball 40 times for a net 111 yards on the ground (2.7 yards per carry). Brady Gile was the top ground-gainer, carrying the ball 12 times for a team-high 71 yards. Triton Meldahl rushed 15 times for 35 yards, including a gallop of 17 yards on one carry. Malachai Bunke completed two of 13 passes for 40 yards.

 Thompson says the coaching staff saw some good flashes the team can build on going forward. “In that first drive, Malachai (Bunke) had a nice pass to Kobe Lind,” he recalled. “He stood right in there, Kobe ran a good route, and Bunke drilled him with it.

“We moved the ball pretty well on the first drive of the second half too. We’re working a lot more out of the shotgun formation this year, which is new for us. That helped us get things going a little faster in the second half. Triton (Meldahl) was able to hit the holes faster and Malachai made quicker reads. Through the whole game, I saw us growing. We just have to keep it going”

Though not for lack of effort, the Trojans need to tackle better, Thompson said. He stressed that is something they’ll be practicing this week. “It’s tough to work on tackling during the week,” he said. “Football is a physical game on Friday nights the way it is. You really don’t want people hurt in practice. We’ve got to do things in practice to help us wrap people up and drive with our feet.

The other thing the team will work on this week has more to do with the coaching staff. “We may want to simplify things a little bit because we are a young team,” Thompson said. “We want to give them less to think about and help them be physical and play faster. We maybe have too much offense in too early.”

R-P simplified things in the third quarter against BP and saw more success. After giving up 33 points to the potent Blossom offense, the Trojans held BP to just seven points in the third quarter.

Schedule

This week the Trojans make an unusual road trip, heading west to Faribault to face Bethlehem Academy. The Cardinals opened the season with a 46-14 loss at Mayer Lutheran on Friday. While BA has been struggling for a few years, Thompson said they have kids that come out and play hard every Friday night.

“They’ll spread the field out a little bit, but they’ll do it with more of a wing-T style of offense,” Thompson said. “They play hard, so we’ll have our hands full again.”

There was some rearranging in southeast Minnesota districts this year, as both Kingsland and Southland went to 9-man football this year. The Trojans are in the Blue Sub-District of the Mid-Southeast District. Other teams in the Blue Sub-District include Hayfield, Lewiston-Altura, Fillmore Central, Wabasha-Kellogg, and Winona Cotter.

The Blue Sub-District teams play three crossover games with teams in the White Sub-District of the Mid-Southeast District. The first three games of this season for R-P are with teams from the White Sub-District, including this week’s game with Bethlehem Academy and next week at home against Goodhue.   “We’re going to bounce back from week one,” Thompson added.