PREP FOOTBALL: Providence downs Crookston in opener
CROOKSTON — Luke Edlund, all 175 pounds of him, spent much of Saturday afternoon trying to penetrate a human wall.
The senior starts at noseguard on the Crookston High School football team’s defensive line. Opposite the Pirates was Providence Academy, with its experienced starting offensive line, each starter weighing a minimum of 210 pounds and the unit averaging 237 pounds.
“It’s tough,’’ the 5-foot-6 Edlund said. “I feel like I have an advantage with my quickness. But there’s not much you can do when a line is that big and that good.’’
That line paved the way as the Plymouth-based school blanked the Pirates 34-0 in the season opener for both teams. The game was a week earlier than the opener for most teams in the state because of the zero week policy that allows teams that couldn’t fill their schedules to add a game a week earlier than the schedule allows.
Providence Academy, led by Ryan Richelsen running, totaled 305 rushing yards.
Edlund made some plays, getting a tackle for a 1-yard loss and tracking down a receiver from behind on a screen pass for a 2-yard loss.
“Luke played a good game,’’ Crookston coach Scott Butt said. “He did some good things and created some problems.
“But he was undersized. We were pretty much out-sized across the line. We fought hard, but we wore down. We just don’t have a lot of big kids in our school right now.’’
The Pirates may get some reinforcements, as injuries and academic ineligibilities kept some players out of the game. Overall, however, the Pirates aren’t going to get much bigger, and they’re not going to get much stronger.
But Edlund sees ways of getting better.
“We have to work on our quickness,’’ he said. “And we haven’t done a lot of live tackling in practices. We’ll do more of that. And fundamentals is a big thing for us.’’
Richelsen – no small player himself at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds – gained 158 yards and scored the Lions’ first four touchdowns on 10, 80, 8 and 22-yard runs.
“Ryan is tough as nails,’’ Providence Academy coach Derek Asche said. “He runs under a 5-second in the 40 and he’s a hard runner. When we get him in the open, he’s hard to bring down. And our line did a good job. They’re all returning (starters) from last year. Crookston is real aggressive, which makes it hard. But we were bigger and we did our jobs.’’
Crookston totaled 105 yards in offense. Its top threats were Aaron Hollcraft and Mikey Hajostek, each of whom rushed for 28 yards. The Pirates’ best scoring opportunity was in the fourth quarter, when they were stopped on downs at the Providence Academy 1-yard line.
“We have good skill kids,’’ Butt said. “We just have to find a way to get them open and in space.’’
Overall, Butt said, “We have to execute better. We have to be better with technique. And the kids were already talking about this being a learning experience, that there is time to get better. And they will put in the effort.’’
As for that size disadvantage,’’ I’d like to see smaller (linemen) against us,’’ Edlund said. “But I like the challenge of going against big guys.’’