By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
The STMA Knights football team pushed its record to 7-0 by beating the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets 31-6.
The wind howled all night at STMA Middle School field, which presented some bizarre moments during the game. One pass by CI’s quarterback sailed about fifteen yards beyond the nearest receiver. When with the wind, each respective kicker looked like the Minnesota Vikings’ Blair Walsh.
After a scoreless first quarter, things got interesting. Dallas Freeman turned a short Jackson Greenwaldt pass into a 79 yard catch and run touchdown. CI blocked the extra point, one of the few bright spots for the Bluejackets in the game.
After getting the ball back on the CI 36 yard line, the Knights quickly drove down the field where Noah Evans ran in the next touchdown from nine yards out. Austin Wick converted for two points and a 14-0 Knights lead.
Bluejacket mistakes turned the quarter into a disaster for CI’s offense. STMA scored its next touchdown when CI’s longsnapper sent the ball sailing over the punter’s head. Chris Kartes scooped it up and returned it 37 yards, pushing STMA’s lead to 21-0.
CI moved the ball on its next drive but Bartell batted a fourth down pass to the ground, ending it. A 62 yard reception by Landon Bridell set up the Knights’ next score, a one yard touchdown run by Kartes, and the lead grew to 28.
Evans recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, leading to a field goal. STMA scored all 31 of its points within the second quarter.
STMA blocked a punt in the third quarter. Kartes nearly scooped and scored again. However, CI turned the Knights over on downs. The second half saw the Knights defense lock down. CI tallied a late touchdown, but STMA prevailed by the final score of 31-6.
STMA recorded three takeaways in the second quarter, a defining factor in the game. Head coach Jared Essler said that the Kartes touchdown on the bad punt snap was a killer for Cambridge.
“When you get three takeaways like that, it allows you to score some points in a hurry and that’s what we did,” Essler said. He noted that CI ran the ball fairly well against the Knights, but his team won the field position battle and hung in there, getting some key stops.
Essler felt that the second quarter was an anomaly and that both teams played evenly until the turnovers mounted for CI.
“For whatever reason tonight, the second quarter was just that bizarre. You know, that’s the only way to explain it.”
STMA rushed for 154 yards. Kartes led the way with 10 rushes for 98. Greenwaldt had a solid game, finishing 6 of 13 for 175 yards and a touchdown. The defense played another great game. Joe Kilian and Tyler Berg led the way with eight and nine solo tackles, respectively. Garret Hahn also chipped in with four solo tackles.
After the game, Essler spoke over the phone to the hosts of KFAN’s Friday Night Scoreboard radio show. The Knights played at Rogers on Wednesday with the Mississippi 8 conference championship on the line.