Coon Rapids kicked off its 2012 football season with a resounding 48-6 loss to Totino-Grace last Thursday. But Cardinal Nation is not about to give up.
Head coach Jon Young described the game as one with many valuable lessons.
“You cannot turn the ball over, have lack of effort, miss tackles, or have assignment miscues against great teams or they will make you pay. Great teams don’t make those mistakes,” Young said.
The Cardinals’ second half play on the field was encouraging, Young said.
“We grew up a little bit in the second half and showed signs of life improvement,” he said.
But before promising improvement was demonstrated late in the game, Coon Rapids quarterback Alex Boxwell threw four interceptions resulting in four Eagles touchdowns in the first half – two of those returned to the end zone by Totino’s defensive back Ben Mezzenga.
“Those interceptions were a combination of solid cornerback play by Totino, poor route running by Coon Rapids and not seeing through the play by our quarterback,” Young said.
The head coach vowed to have the team review film and discover the areas of breakdown in the game.
“The turnovers, decision making, lack of effort at times and poor footwork are all correctable,” said Young, describing the game plan to refocus and prepare for the Cardinals’ game tonight (Friday) at Minnetonka.
Other Totino-Grace Eagles touchdowns last week came on running plays into the end zone in the arms of fullback Kai Barber, halfback Mason Kaliszewski and halfback Carlton Djam. Eagles quarterback AJ LaPanta completed a pass to wide receiver Charlie Miller for another Totino first half touchdown.
Coon Rapids held Totino scoreless in the second half, while in the third quarter, Boxwell carried the ball into the end zone for the Cardinals’ only touchdown of the game.
“A huge positive was that the kids were able to re-energize themselves for the second half, find a way to continue playing hard, experience success on offense and defense and not quit,” Young said.
Notes from the sidelines
Other Northwest Suburban Conference and North Suburban Conference 2012 season openers had Blaine at Elk River, Park Center at Anoka, Andover at Edina and North Branch at Spring Lake Park Aug. 30. The final season opener for local teams had St. Francis at Irondale last Friday for a 7 p.m. kick-off.
Those results are as follows:
Andover 23, Edina 24
Andover started the game out strong with two touchdowns in the first quarter. It was scoreless in the second quarter and then the game turned, coach Rich Wilkie said.
“The blocked punt before halftime gave [Edina]the lead and I believe was the biggest turning point in the end,” he said.
Andover scored a touchdown in the third quarter and a safety in the fourth.
The Huskies did their best to deny Edina’s advances on the gridiron – even intercepting two Hornets pass attempts.
Andover got things going in the first quarter when quarterback Connor Wilkie hit wide receiver Chris Larson with a 71-yard pass for a touchdown. Later, a 34-yard Wilkie-to-Justin Freyholtz pass put another touchdown on the Huskie scoreboard.
In the third quarter, Wilkie completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alec Daniel.
After Edina responded with a nine-yard touchdown pass and got the lead by three, Andover scored a safety for two but ended the game down by one.
Park Center 12, Anoka 34
As the Tornadoes beat up the Pirates at Goodrich Field, head coach Jeff Buerkle saw his young team step up to the plate.
“I thought we played pretty well considering the number of players we had that were playing in their first varsity game,” Buerkle said, and spotlighted quarterback Malcolm Seals and running back Reid Lindsey as key offensive players for Anoka.
On defense, Buerkle liked the looks of outside linebacker Mitch Letourneau and defensive back Dylan Ellingson, both of whom “had very good games,” he said.
Looking ahead to tonight’s (Friday) game at Andover, Buerkle said, “Our rivalry with Andover is a very positive rivalry and both teams always play extremely hard and we always have close games.”
The Tornadoes’ coach acknowledges that, on film, Andover looks bigger and faster than Anoka, but he said he thinks the team “that has the least turnovers and cleans up the mistakes from last week” will win the Anoka versus Andover contest.
“I know Andover’s coaching staff does an excellent job of scouting and preparing their team, so it should be a very good game and very tough for each side,” Buerkle said as he anticipated a great game on the gridiron tonight.
Blaine 28, Elk River 14
Blaine’s junior quarterback Alex Copa threw two touchdown passes and ran into the end zone for the Bengals’ two additional touchdowns. Copa totaled 20 carries for 116 yards and 11 completions in 20 attempts for 73 passing yards.
St. Francis 13, Irondale 33
After Irondale scored three touchdowns in the first half, the Saints quarterback Hunter Trautman scored on a one-yard gain.
Irondale scored two more touchdowns in the fourth before St. Francis running back Max Gust made a six-yard run into the endzone. Kulin Dahlquits’ extra point was good, but the game ended with a 13-33 loss for St. Francis.
“We feel the game was actually much closer than the score reflected,” head coach Chris Lindquist said after the game, especially siting third quarter action.
“In the third quarter we were actually able to move the ball and scored to bring the score to 20-6. A short time later our team was deep in Irondale territory but could not convert open opportunities into a touchdown,” Lindquist said. “Had we been able to do that, the score would have been 20-13 at that point and easily would have been a different game.”
To get set for their Park Center game tonight, the Saints worked on better on-field communication this week and coaches worked to ensure that “players understand the schemes and can execute them under a wide range of circumstances,” Lindquist said.
“Our greatest strength is that we can improve a great deal over the course of this season,” said the Saints head coach.
North Branch 7, Spring Lake Park 55
The Panthers scored on every possession of the first half and led 55-0 at halftime. Spring Lake Park defense did not give up a single first down in the first half of their opener.
Coach Jeff Schlieff said his defense was led by Daulton Olinger, Ejodamen Ejiya and Gabe Dahl.
Quarterback CJ Janu and running back Jared Evans led Panther offense in the charge down field for their impressive season opener over North Branch.
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]