Indians in state - again
GRAND FORKS - Dylan Stevens threw only 41 passes through Mahnomen's first 10 games, good for 293 yards. It wasn't that he wasn't a capable thrower, however.
"Dylan's very capable," Mahnomen football coach John Clark Jr. said. "But we've played with a lead almost all year. We didn't need it.
"But it was huge for us today."
Stevens passed for a pair of first-half touchdowns, giving Mahnomen a lead it never relinquished. The Indians went on to claim a 20-6 win against Warren-Alvarado-Oslo on Friday in the Alerus Center in the championship game of Minnesota Class 1A, Section 8.
Dylan hooked up with Cody Gieseke on a short pass on the right sideline in the first quarter. Gieseke turned and had open field as he ran in for a 45-yard touchdown. In the second quarter, he looped a pass to Luke Littlewolf behind the Ponies defense for a 13-yard score and a 13-0 lead that Mahnomen took into halftime.
"We've seen them throw those swing passes," Ponies coach Tony Gullikson said. "They run and run and run. You wind up with five guys chasing (Alex) LaVoy and they wind up with wide-open receivers."
Warren-A-O dominated the first half as far as offensive plays and time of possession. But three times the Ponies moved inside the 20 and failed to score. Twice they turned the ball over on downs. On the third red-zone drive, powerful back Zach Riopelle was stopped on the 1-yard line as time expired in the half.
"We've been great in the red zone all year," Gullikson said. "But we made some mistakes and had some miscommunication down there tonight. And they made a great stop on Zach.
"That was pretty deflating. But the kids fought back."
Warren-A-O got back to within 13 on Jayvon O'Quinns' 11-yard touchdown run in the third. But that was as close as W-A-O could get. Alex LaVoy answered with a 10-yard touchdown run on the Indians' ensuring drive.
"We hung in there on defense the whole first half," Clark said. "We bent, but we didn't break. We adjusted to what they were doing in the second half and were much more aggressive on defense."
The game was a matchup of outstanding backs.
Riopelle carried 37 times for 170 yards.
LaVoy wound up with 180 yards on 21 carries. He had 137 second-half yards, running primarily behind guard Alex Greene and tackle Tyler Coleman on the right side of Mahnomen's line.
"Alex is a special player," said Clark, whose team improved to 11-0. "He has some of everything - speed, power, moves. He'll play at the next level."
WAO 0 0 6 0- 6
M 7 6 7 0-20
M-Gieseke 45 pass from Stevens (Hoffner kick)
M-Littlewolf 13 pass from Stevens (kick failed)
WAO-O'Quinn 11 run (run failed)
M-LaVoy 10 run (LaVoy kick)
RUSHING: WAO, Riopelle 37-170, O'Quinn 9-33, Lansing 6-26. M, LaVoy 21-180, Stevens 7-63.
PASSING: WAO, O'Quinn 4-8-0 38 yards. M, Stevens 3-8-1 75.
RECEIVING: WAO, Mattson 3-29. M, Gieseke 1-45.