BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Making adjustments continued to be a trend for the Delano football team when pulling out a 21-20 victory over Orono Friday.
The Tigers were adjusting to the return of nine players who were suspended for two games. The proper adjustments were made the two prior games resulting in wins despite missing six starters.
Then against Orono, senior defensive lineman Aaron Klaers went out with a separated shoulder, meaning Delano coach Merrill Pavlovich had to switch things around again.
“Klaers is one of our leading defensive players and losing him also had an impact on our special teams where he makes many contributions,” said Pavlovich about being forced to make defensive adjustments. “Aaron injured the same shoulder last year. We can’t afford to give players like that up.”
The coach is awaiting the results of the MRI and is hopeful it is not a season ending injury.
The Tiger offense also needed to make adjustments in the second half. Dalton Danielson started at quarterback, completing 2 of 11 passes for 42 yards.
Pavlovich wanted to go to more of a grind it out run attack in the second half and put the ball in the hands of Toby Hanson, running a quarterback option attack. The junior rushed 17 times for 107 yards and completed 3 of 5 passes for 32 yards. Only 28 of the rushing yards came in the first half.
Delano scored on runs by Zach Checkal (2 yards), Hanson (7 yards) and Jack Nelson (5 yards). Checkal kicked all three extra points.
Orono scored with 2:49 left and decided to go for the 2-point conversion and the win. Pavlovich said how Danielson made a key read on the trick play.
Playing at defensive end, Danielson followed the Orono quarterback out of the backfield and into the end zone, taking him away as a receiver and forcing the ball carrier to run. Hanson and Andy Rieder stopped the runner at the 3.
“We were not surprised that Orono went for two,” adds Pavlovich. “Our defenders were disciplined and played their positions. In the third quarter, Orono ran a double reverse pass that caught our secondary sleeping and resulted in a touchdown.”
Pavlovich said Rieder and Christian Triplett were forces on the defensive line. Justin Oja and Dennis Troussov played very well in the secondary and Checkal and Hanson played well as linebackers.
Damon Longstreet, Triplett and Rieder all had quarterback sacks. Triplett had three solo tackles and seven assists. Checkal had five tackles and three assists and Rieder and Oja both had four solo tackles.
Offensively, Checkal rushed 16 times for 87 yards and caught three passes for 32 yards. His punting was a key factor in maintaining field position, adds the coach.
Jack Nelson gained 12 yards on four carries. Seth Norling had 11 yards on three rushes and Rieder had four carries for 15 yards. Adam Kraft caught two passes for 42 yards.
“Our offense lacked consistency, yet had three impressive drives for touchdowns,” notes Pavlovich. “Part of the inconsistency on both sides of the ball was due to injuries and lack of playing time by some the past two weeks.”
Delano plays at home against unbeaten Hutchinson, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5. The team has a returning All-Conference quarterback who can throw and run. The Tigers improved to 4-1.