As bad as a 1-6 record appears on paper, Anoka coach Jeff Buerkle remains hopeful that the 2013 season will end on a positive note after the Tornadoes turned the ball over five times in a 21-10 loss at Champlin Park in the Battle for the Paddle Oct. 11.
The traveling trophy remains in Champlin for at least another year after the Rebels were outgained by nearly 100 yards, but made Anoka pay for its mistakes, scoring on three of Anoka’s turnovers.
Anoka turned the ball over on the first offensive play which Champlin Park translated into a touchdown from five yards out on three plays.
During Anoka’s next offensive drive quarterback Travis Bengston broke off a 25-yard run, but fumbled near the Rebels 30-yard line.
Later on running back Reid Lindsay scampered about 30 yards and appeared to have a chance to score, but the ball was knocked loose and recovered at the Rebels two-yard line. Another turnover came as a Champlin Park player disrupted the hand-off on a reverse.
“We hate to lose the Paddle, but we’re disappointed in the things we did because it seems to be the story of our season,” Buerkle said. “We just had too many mistakes and we’re not good enough to win if we have these mistakes.”
Lindsay finished with 153 yards on 25 carries to lead Anoka and Bengston found tight end Mitch Geise on a four-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to cut the lead to 21-10.
Champlin Park running back Datrice Mulsumo had 200 yards on 27 carries, including 64 yards on a second-quarter touchdown run to put the Rebels up 21-3 going into halftime.
Even with the score, Buerkle felt the defense performed well, given the short field it was given to defend. “We had more yards and shut them out in the second half so I think the defense played good enough for us to win,” he said. “They got a bulk of their yards on two plays,” Buerkle said.
Anoka’s defense got one turnover when lineman Danny Olson cause a fumble that was recovered by junior Dylan Ellingson.
Anoka closed out the regular season with the annual Pumpkin Bowl against Blaine Wednesday. Instead of the usual six days between games, teams only had four days to get ready and Buerkle saw it as both a positive and negative.
“It’s a plus because we can’t focus on the mistakes, but it doesn’t give us a whole lot of time to correct things that were wrong,” he said.
“So the focus will have to be on fewer things like ball security with the offense; reads and footwork for the quarterbacks; making sure the defensive linemen are watching the ball and the linebackers have eyes on their reads at all time.”
The Tornadoes coach remained upbeat about salvaging the regular season with a chance to win a trophy game on what might be the final game of the season to be played at Goodrich Field.
“One of the positive things we talk about is that we really haven’t been stopped, other than the Wayzata game,” Buerkle said. “We’re killing ourselves and Champlin’s defense is good but they didn’t stop us, we did. First and 10 goes to second and 15 and there’s a lot a defense can do with that. We need to make the other team earn their stops.”
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