Prowlers go to the air to top Crookston
CROOKSTON - Jeff Mumm makes no bones about his preference in a football offense. "Passing isn't our No. 1 priority. Never," the veteran Thief River Falls High School football coach said. But a struggling running game and a second-string quarterba...
CROOKSTON - Jeff Mumm makes no bones about his preference in a football offense.
"Passing isn't our No. 1 priority. Never," the veteran Thief River Falls High School football coach said.
But a struggling running game and a second-string quarterback had the Prowlers going to the air early Friday. Junior left-hander Cody Conners passed for 159 yards and one touchdown as the Prowlers downed Crookston 18-0 in the teams' season opener.
"It (running the football) was tough," Mumm said. "Crookston put nine people in the box. They forced us to get into our shotgun passing stuff."
And Conners, in his first varsity start, was on the mark. He was incomplete on his first three passing attempts in a first quarter in which the Prowlers rushed for just 4 yards. But Conners connected on his first five attempts in the second quarter, sparking a pair of scoring drives.
Aaron Langen powered in on a 6-yard run for a 6-0 lead with 5 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first half. Conners completed two passes for 56 of the 75 yards on the drive. Jordan Espeseth made the big reception, a 48-yarder on which he broke a tackle to pick up an additional 25 yards to the Pirates' 15.
Thomas Loe made it 12-0 on Thief River Falls' next possession when he scored on a 4-yard run. Conners was 3-for-3 on the drive. He connected with Chase Haviland for 20 and 15 yards, then Lucas Dillon hauled in a 10-yard pass to set up Loe's score.
Conners moved into the starting lineup when senior Kasey Trontvet suffered a sprained thumb on his right (throwing) hand in practice Wednesday. While Conners was a standout baseball pitcher last spring for the Prowlers, he had jitters in his first varsity start.
"I was pretty nervous in the first quarter," Conners said. "I had a couple of bad drives. But I settled down and got the passing going. The receivers were making plays.
"Kasey will be back. He deserves (to start). I'll try to keep pushing him."
Said Mumm: "Cody is a great baseball pitcher. He throws hard. He has to develop some touch here. But he's a talented kid. He didn't (surprise) at all."
Conners, who finished 8-of-18 passing, got his first touchdown pass of the game when Haviland made an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone for a 19-yard score in the third quarter. Haviland finished with four catches, good for 86 yards, and also rushed for a game-high 55 yards on just four carries. The Prowlers wound up with balanced offense, picking up 171 yards on the ground.
Crookston's top offensive threat was quarterback Ethan Hulst, who rushed for 35 yards and passed for 73.
"They (Prowlers) made some big plays and we didn't connect on ours," Pirates coach Chris Trostad said. "They controlled the line of scrimmage. We had a tough time running the ball and passing the ball. That was the difference."
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