by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Maple Grove took advantage of numerous Elk River turnovers in a 42-6 home win Friday, Sept. 13.
The Crimson, with the return of running back Clark Wieneke from injury, displayed a potent running game that netted 301 yards. Also, they discovered an effective passing game that added 183 yards to the offense. On defense, the Crimson did well even without leading tackler linebacker Emmanuel Ehrich and blanked the Elks’ top offensive unit.
“Any time you get a win against a team as unique as Elk River, it’s a good thing,” Crimson coach Matt Lombardi said. “They shot themselves in the foot a ton, so they helped us out with unforced turnovers as the game went on. However, I was proud of how our kids took advantage of those opportunities and were able to spread out to a good size lead because of the opportunities presented us.”
Maple Grove took a 13-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. A fumble recovery by Isaac Collins led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Tahi Nomane and quarterback Karl Altenberg tossed a 57-yard touchdown pass to Wieneke to make it 13-0.
“It was nice to get Clark Wieneke back, especially with Tahi being a little banged up with a nagging ankle injury,” Lombardi said.
Wieneke had 9 carries for 100 yards, and caught a 59-yard touchdown pass and ran for a 34-yard TD. Altenberg was able to get the passing game going with receiver Brady Engelke, who had seven catches for 91 yards.
“Brady did a great job at receiver getting us some key first downs,” Lombardi said “Karl was able to amass 183 yards passing and Brady had seven catches on the night. Also, fullback Tyler Coyne had a great game (one touchdown), and our offensive line was able to take control as the game went on.”
Defensively, the Crimson gave a strong effort minus Ehrich, who missed the game because of an injury.
“I was proud of how they held up against a challenging offense like Elk River without Emmanuel,” Lombardi said. “Many people stepped up and allowed us to have success.”
Adam Brant had 11 tackles and forced a fumble that Jake Engelken returned for an 86-yard TD.
“Adam made a superhuman effort to get there and to cause the turnover,” Lombardi said. “That turned the entire game.”
Engelken had 8 tackles and a fumble return for a touchdown, and the rest of the defense got stronger as the game progressed.
“We were able to hold a challenging offense to no points (the Elks scored their six on the very last play of the game on an 80 yard run), so I was very proud of their effort,” Lombardi said.
The win improved Maple Grove to 3-0. Next week, the Crimson have a big home game against Blaine, which lost 56-10 at home to Osseo last week.
“They will be ready after their ‘twilight zone’ type second half they had against a very good Osseo team,” Lombardi said. “This week will be a great test for us against a team that knows how to win and has done great things as you look historically at football in the state of Minnesota. We need to play our absolute best to keep this momentum going.”
Contact Bob San at email@example.com