BY DAVE PEDERSEN
To defeat a No. 7 state-ranked football team, Rockford needed to play great in every aspect, which it did in Friday’s 14-7 triumph over previously unbeaten Maple Lake.
Rockford’s offense rolled up 374 yards, threatening to score a couple more times. The defense limited the league’s leading rusher to 77 yards on 17 carries, far short of the close to 150-yard per game average. Maple Lake managed 202 total yards.
The big victory evens Rockford’s record to 2-2, 2-1 in the Central Minnesota Conference, tied with Belgrade-Brooten-Elrose for second place. The teams meet 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27 for Rockford’s Homecoming game. Last year BBE won 28-20.
A key to the season has been the catching on to a new defensive system planned by defensive coordinator Nick Peterson. The defense has only given up 12 points per game this year.
Against Maple Lake, JV defensive coordinator Nathan Maher filled in on varsity for a game and the Rockets did not miss a beat.
It took just two plays for Rockford to get on the scoreboard. Junior running back Tommy Reinking threw a halfback pass to senior wide receiver Brendon Schumacher for 31-yard gain, followed by a 35-yard touchdown run by senior Sasha Galka.
Rocket defenders kept Maple Lake off track with an interception by sophomore Tommy Traen and a fumble recovery by Schumacher in the first half. Junior linebacker Jake Clouse had three tackles for loss on third downs in the game and junior defensive end Alex Byers stopped a fake punt attempt with help from junior linebacker Kado Cano.
Early in the second half, Rockford drove 74 yards on nine plays, capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Brock Deering.
Rockford’s offense kept the ball away from Maple Lake much of the second half. The Irish did manage to score late, making the final score 14-7.
“Our guys played their best game of the year,” said coach Dan Houghton. Players were motivated and flying around. It was fun to see us play like that. Our offensive line also played great.”
Deering was 4 of 11 passing for 65 yards and rushed 14 times for 142 yards. Reinking carried 16 times for 142 yards, Galka gained 49 yards on five attempts and sophomore Jimmy Monssen rushed the ball seven times for 36 yards. Junior Andrew VanDehey caught two passes for 11 yards.
Clouse led the way on defense with 18 tackles, followed by junior linebacker Kane Vogel with 14 and Byers with 11. Cano added two tackles for loss.
The standout defensive effort was powered by linemen junior Nick Hall, senior Max Gulsvig, sophomore Sam Doboszenski and Cano. Starting lineman Luke Schmitz missed the game with an injury.
Clouse and Vogel started at linebacker and VanDehey and Byers were defensive ends. Defensive backs included Traen, junior Jeremy Bingham, Schumacher, Galka and Reinking.