BY ROB LAPLANTE
Junior running back Jake Olson and the Monticello Magic ran away with a 24-10 victory last Wednesday from the St. Michael-Albertville football team, stealing away the potential No. 1 seed from the Knights.
Olson rushed for 161 yards and two scores. The first score gave the Magic a 7-3 lead. After STMA senior kicker Justin McLain booted a 38-yard field goal, Olson busted loose for a 39-yard TD rush giving the Magic the early momentum.
With two of the Mississippi 8’s top defenses on display, neither team could muster too much offense in the first half. It didn’t help matters STMA’s leading rusher Chris Kartes missed most the game with an upper body injury.
“He was coming on a punt block early in the game and got hit in the shoulder,” said head coach Jared Essler. “It’s an AC joint injury. We thought he could come back. He played a couple carries, but it stiffened up and decided not to play him.”
The Knights struggled to move the ball in the opening 24 minutes of play and trailed 10-3 at the half. The deficit went to 17-3 early in the second half after Will Bauman scored from a yard out for the Magic.
The Knights defense had averaged less than two touchdowns per game this season. But with a Magic defense only allowing 8.3 points per game, the 14-point deficit appeared to be an uphill climb.
“They’ve done a good job all year of stopping the run. They have a physical team and a great defense,” Essler said. “We had some opportunities in the passing game to exploit them and we missed some throws and opportunities to create some big plays. We just have to be a little better in our passing game.”
The passing attack wasn’t solely the fault of senior quarterback Cole Krutzig. There were several dropped passes and when the Knights did make plays, penalties seemed to override any momentum they sustained.
After Krutzig made the score 17-10 on a 15-yard TD rush late in the fourth quarter, the Knights tried an onside kick and what appeared to be a recovery for STMA was called back for an illegal touching call.
The Magic eventually took over and Olson busted free for a 63-yard TD scamper that put the game out of reach.
Sophomore linebacker Tyler Berg had a big night defensively. He registered 38 defensive points that included 10 tackles (six solo). Berg (206 points) trails only senior Erik Johnson (234.5) for most defensive points this season.
STMA received the No. 3 seed and hosted Buffalo on Tuesday in the opening round of the Section 6, Class 5A playoffs. Results of this game will be in next week’s edition. If the Knights won, they will play at Monticello once again Saturday at 1 p.m.