The Maple Grove Crimson were coming off their first loss of the season last week. They didn’t have much time to lick their wounds with the top-ranked Minnetonka Skippers coming to town. The Crimson offense dominated in the first half…
The Maple Grove Crimson were coming off their first loss of the season last week. They didn’t have much time to lick their wounds with the top-ranked Minnetonka Skippers coming to town. The Crimson offense dominated in the first half and their defense would dominate in the second half. The combination would give the Crimson a 35-16 victory.
To beat the top-ranked team at any level, teams need top performances from as many players as possible. Maple Grove had great individual performances on both sides of the ball.
The unquestioned straw that stirs the drink on offense for the Crimson is running back Evan Hull, but he got a lot of help from his blockers. Alex Carlson and Benjamin Bristol opened a hole for Hull and a first down. The pair opened another big hole for a six-yard gain. With nine men in the box, Hull got a crease up the middle on a third and short, broke a tackle and brock free for a 52-yard touchdown run. Later, the middle of the offensive line got him the first three yards, but three quick cuts by Hull produced a 20-yard gain.
With Bristol, Joel Johnson, and Westyn Doubler opening holes in the middle of the Minnetonka defense, the Crimson offense was in position for a second touchdown. Hull would cash in again with another touchdown run.
The offense would struggle in the second half, but when they needed a drive to kill the clock, the offensive line and Hull obliged. Hull bounced a run to the outside for 15 yards. Johnson and Tyler Wiens open a hole for Hull who picked up a first down and nearly broke it for a long run. Fullback Tanner Skanson was an effective lead blocker and tough inside runner when he got his chances. I felt his most impressive play was when he lined up as a wing back and came across the formation on kind of a trap block. He drove his man way out of the play so that Hull could run underneath his block for significant yardage. Tight end Jacob Engle did a nice job setting the edge on some of Hull’s runs, and late in the game, he buried a linebacker to open a hole for Hull.
Quarterback Nate Elmes didn’t throw much, but he threw a comeback route deep in their own end. Then using play action, he connected on a deep out pattern. Especially in the first half, his passing was able to keep the Skippers’ defense honest and make the Skippers pay for loading the box.
Although mistakes by the Skippers bailed the Crimson defense out more than once, the unit ultimately almost outscored Minnetonka by itself.
The Crimson played a base 3-4 defense.
Early defensive back Gavin Pelto got into the backfield. He didn’t make the tackle, but he created the short loss. Later he broke up a pass down the middle. In the second half, Minnetonka tried to throw a screen pass, but Pelto read the play and laid a big hit on the receiver for a short gain.
Because of more pressure from the front seven, safety Zane Mandle looked like he dropped into a zone and had a pass thrown right to him. Mandle made the catch and returned the pick for a touchdown.
Mandle had good coverage underneath and Dylan Huff nice coverage over the top on a deep out, giving the quarterback very little room to complete a pass. In a goal-line situation, Huff came up strong on run support to make a tackle. Then he had tight coverage in the end zone, giving the quarterback nowhere to throw.
One of the reasons the secondary played so well was the play of the front seven.
Defensive lineman Joseph Buelow got into the backfield immediately. He didn’t make the tackle but created the loss. On the very next play, he recorded a sack. His penetration led to a teammate’s sack. A few plays later he collected a second sack. He has to give an assist to the secondary as excellent coverage from Huff, Kevin Ansah, Mandle, Gilbert Agyeman and Pelto forced the quarterback to hold the ball much longer than he wanted.
Linebacker Thomas Kampsula made an open field tackle on a receiver on a crossing route for a short loss. Then he got home on a blitz and got a sack.
Linebacker Cooper Wegscheid filled the hole and stuffed a run for a short gain.
Fellow linebacker Jacob Strehlow and defensive lineman Buelow combine for a sack – that sack and two penalties forced by the front seven made it second and goal from the 42-yard line for Tonka. Later Strehlow made an open field tackle on a sweep.
Defensive lineman Archie Zogaa was Jonny on the spot and recovered an early second-half fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
Defensive lineman Bristol didn’t bite on the play and instead of rushing the passer, broke up a screen pass. Later in the game, he continued to the passer and got a sack.
Linebacker Ross Krueger and defensive lineman Keon Bell blew up an inside trap play.
Linebacker Anthony Gipson pressured the quarterback and got a sack. Later he undercut a crossing route to break up the pass.
Although the Skippers left some points on the field, in victory, the Maple Grove Crimson left no doubt they are one of the best teams in the state and will be a factor late into the season.