BY DAVID PEDERSEN
It may be football, but Delano players held serve you could say when winning two games minus some key players.
The Tigers followed a 28-9 victory over Waconia by dominating Mound-Westonka 34-7 Friday at the start of three straight home games.
Delano took care of business by taking care of the teams at the bottom of the division standings, but now will test the top half. After facing Orono, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, the Tigers play host to undefeated Hutchinson in a game that could decide the division crown.
Coach Merrill Pavlovich said Delano was a very tired team after the Mound-Westonka win. Nine players were suspended for violating MSHSL rules, including six starters. Their return against Orono is much welcomed.
“With limited depth and several players having to play on both sides of the ball, we played tired and ragged at times,” adds the coach. “With the nine players returning, our special teams will be given a big boost and will provide the starters breaks throughout the game.”
Delano showed it has a deep talent base of players who gained valuable experience and who may challenge for playing time.
“We will evaluate throughout the week and make decisions to who is playing where,” adds Pavlovich. “We will look at all of our options and decide what is best for the team.”
Mound-Westonka’s defense gave great attention to the Tiger running attack, maybe thinking an inexperienced quarterback will not be able to pass well.
Delano took what the defense gave it with senior Dalton Danielson completing 11 of 17 passes for more than 300 yards.
Adam Kraft had touchdown catches of 48 and 54 yards and Zach Checkal caught two more for 67 and 25 yards. Both players had about 150 receiving yards.
Checkal scored the other touchdown on a 1-yard run. He rushed for a total of 150 yards. Sophomore Brett Norling contributed 47 yards on 11 carries and had one reception for 30 yards.
Pavlovich said the offensive line continued to play well with Christian Triplett, Austin Wallace, Wyatt Russek, Ben Stoddard, Oliver Reitan and Ben Jacobs. Plus, “Arick Neisen has been outstanding at center.”
Senior Aaron Klaers led the defense in tackles and had a quarterback sack. The coach adds how Triplett continues to be a force at defensive tackle, Andy Rieder had his best defensive game and Ben Ditty continues played well once again at linebacker.
Other defensive players making valuable contributions the past two weeks according to Pavlovich are Nate Meyers, Justin Oja, Aaron Barduson, Dennis Troussov and Kraft.
Orono had a big win over Holy Family last week and has an outstanding running back, notes Pavlovich.