Anoka (1-4) couldn’t solve undefeated Maple Grove (5-0) as Crimson running back Clark Wieneke continued to light up the field, this time for 166 yards on 24 carries but without a touchdown, in a 24-7 Anoka loss Sept. 27.
Anoka stayed within two touchdowns before the Crimson took a 17-0 lead with four seconds left in the opening half.
Tornadoes coach Jeff Buerkle said his team made improvements and played well at times, but untimely mistakes proved to be the difference again.
“We moved the ball well on some drives,” he said.
But instead of second down and five yards to go, a holding call would push the ball back to third and long situations, Buerkle said. “We’d make a few plays here and there then have something just kill the drive,” he said.
The Crimson defense has held the opposition to seven points or less for the fourth time in five games.
Field position wasn’t an issue for Anoka as junior Teddy Sherva had 56 yards in kick returns, consistently reaching the 40-yard line or better.
Buerkle expects Sherva to translate those kick return skills into punt returns eventually, he said.
“Right now he’s not as comfortable returning punts, but he’s definitely exciting to watch,” Buerkle said.
On defense, the idea was to keep the plan simple and not to give up the big home-run play, according to Buerkle.
Maple Grove quarterback Karl Altenburg completed just eight-of-21 passes for 134 yards, but three of those passes went for scores, two to Brady Engelke and the other to Tyler Coyne.
Tornadoes junior Paul Rivera scored the lone touchdown in the fourth quarter and finished the night with a team-high 63 yards on 21 carries.
Rivera, a junior, was doing very well at the junior varsity level before the coaches moved him to the top squad.
“He’s getting to the point as a junior where he’s understanding the speed of the game and what’s needed to be successful,” Buerkle said.
Look for Rivera to continue to start at fullback. “He’s not real fast but if we get four-five yards we’re happy with it,” Buerkle said.
Reid Lindsay and Connor Nikolaus were held to 33 and 32 yards, respectively. Quarterback Travis Bengston completed three-of-13 passes for 21 yards with one interception.
Anoka’s defense made some big plays led by Nush Harris’ team-high 15 tackles. Senior linebacker Zach Eenhuis had 11 tackles, one sack and forced a fumble that was recovered by senior Steven Barthold, who also knocked down two passes and had five tackles.
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