Storm derail Bearcats
HALLOCK, Minn. -- Defense sparked Kittson County Central to a 4-0 start and the No. 2 ranking in the Minnesota 9-man high school football poll. On Friday, the Bearcats got a taste of their own medicine. Top-ranked Stephen-Argyle blanked Kittson C...
HALLOCK, Minn. -- Defense sparked Kittson County Central to a 4-0 start and the No. 2 ranking in the Minnesota 9-man high school football poll.
On Friday, the Bearcats got a taste of their own medicine.
Top-ranked Stephen-Argyle blanked Kittson County Central 16-0 in a matchup of Section 8 9-man powers.
"Confidence-wise, this is a big win," Stephen-Argyle coach Mark Kroulik said. "They were scoring 50-some points a game. They weren't giving up any. We didn't know how we'd stack up against their high-powered offense. And we got the job done. No doubt, it was our best defensive game of the year."
It was a game where something had to give. Stephen-Argyle entered with a 5-0 record and a state-record 72-game winning streak. The 4-0 Bearcats hadn't allowed a point all year.
The shutout streak ended as time expired in the first half. Erik Aakre capped a drive that started on the Storm's own 19-yard line by kicking a 30-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
Then the Storm ground game took control, headed by senior fullback Matt Borowicz.
Borowicz injured an ankle on the first play from scrimmage in the game. He had only two carries for 12 yards in the first two quarters. He finished with 28 carries, good for 130 yards, and two second-half touchdowns.
"Our ball control contributed to the defense, big time," said Kroulik, whose offense ran 43 plays in the second half to the Bearcats' 19. "They didn't have the football much in the second half. Matt is a real competitor. He's a power runner, but he has speed and we were able to get it outside with him, too."
Borowicz's 1-yard touchdown run made it 10-0 on the opening drive of the second half. There were two big plays on the drive, a first-down run on fourth-and-2 by Borowicz when he broke a tackle in the backfield, and a leaping catch by Erik Aakre for a 14-yard reception from Jared Jacobson to give the Storm the ball on the KCC 12.
The biggest play for the Storm defense came late in the third quarter. After a short Stephen-Argyle punt gave the Bearcats a first down on the Stephen-Argyle 33, Kellen Albrecht broke a long run on second down, going 28 yards to the Storm 4. But, on the next play, a big hit by Borowicz forced a fumble, which teammate John Safranski recovered to stop the drive. It was the second red-zone stop by Safranski, who had a first-half interception on a Bearcats drive that got as close as the Storm 15-yard line.
"That was big," KCC coach Terry Ogorek said. "If we get something out of that drive, it makes it a one-possession game. That can change things.
"And I thought we got tired on defense. They utilized their fullbacks well; they got big chunks of yards from that spot."
Borowicz capped the scoring with a 1-yard run with 44 seconds left. In addition to Borowicz, the Storm got 80 yards on the ground from Taylor Swanson and 48 from Evan Schindele. And Jacobson ran a smooth offense. "Jared showed real poise operating the offense and making his fakes," Kroulik said.
Kittson County Central's top offensive player was Dylan Kent, who was 10-of-21 for 79 yards passing. Albrecht added 62 yards on the ground. But the Storm held a 336-152 advantage in total offense.
"We feel we have a good defense," said Aakre, who had one of two Stephen-Argyle interceptions. "We're small. But our line does a good job."
In a game of two high-scoring offenses, the Storm defense prevailed.