Thunderbirds unload on Deer River to advance to state semis
In film sessions after the section final, the Mahnomen-Waubun coaching staff made it known the offensive line needed to play better and the Thunderbird blockers opened up huge holes in the Deer River defense in a 42-0 blowout victory in the Class A quarterfinals at Brainerd high school Saturday, Nov. 10.
“A lot to be proud of all the way through, but I’m most proud of our linemen,” Thunderbirds head coach John Clark, Jr. said. “We challenged those guys up front and boy, did they deliver today.”
Senior Parker Syverson was the benefactor of the blocking early scoring the first two touchdowns in the first quarter on the way to a 201-yard rushing day off 19 carries and he scored three times.
“Our offensive line played great today,” Syverson said. “I had room to run for forever and they don’t get enough credit - that was awesome.”
Both of the Thunderbirds’ first two drives ended in Syverson runs from outside the red zone scoring on 27 and 25-yard bursts for an early 16-0 lead.
“The kids had fun, played together and weathered a few mistakes but our offensive line dominated and the backs took advantage,” said Clark Jr. “We had a rhythm early and when you’re getting a push like that you get confidence and with confidence comes a little bit of a strut and we had that today. It was nice to see.”
The Warriors battled the entire first half to gain positive yardage and closed out the opening 24 minutes with -7 total yards.
Even when Deer River made a stand, the Thunderbirds had an answer. Facing third-and-15 at the Warrior 17-yard line, rather than pass, Izaiah Asher sprinted untouched to the end zone for a 22-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter. Cuts were unnecessary on the run; he had nothing but daylight to run into.
“As a coaching staff, when you challenge kids to do things and they respond, that’s what it’s all about,” Clark Jr. said.
Tayvis Zima capped a seven-play, 68-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with two-minutes, 21-seconds remaining in the half and the Thunderbird defense gave the T-Birds another chance to score with time winding down.
Asher sprinted 42 yards and Zima polished off a two-play, 69-yard drive in 36-seconds with a 27-yard sprint to the end zone and a 34-0 lead at halftime.
Syverson scored his third touchdown of the game on a 13-yard run on Mahnomen-Waubun’s first drive of the second half and the Thunderbird reserves handled the rest including a goal line stand inside the five-yard line off a fumble on a Thunderbird bad snap to preserve the shutout.
The Thunderbirds (11-0) will face Springfield (8-4) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17 for a trip to the state championship game.
“It’s exciting and it will be a lot of fun,” said Syverson. “I think we have to come ready to play and get better day by day in practice. Hopefully, we can come out with a win on Saturday.”
Mahnomen-Waubun put up 448 yards of total offense, all but 62 coming on the ground. Syverson, Asher and Zima all averaged more than 10 yards per carry. The defense held Deer River to 21 total yards on 37 plays.
MW 16 18 8 0 - 42
DR 0 0 0 0 - 0
MW - Parker Syverson 27 run (Tayvis Zima run)
MW - Syverson 25 run (Jeffrey Cukla run)
MW - Izaiah Asher 17 run untouched on 3rd down (pass failed)
MW - Zima 5 run (kick failed)
MW - Zima 27 run (kick failed)
MW - Syverson 13 run (Jon Starkey run)