By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
After losing Mitchell Kartes in their homecoming loss to Totino-Grace the previous week, the STMA Knights football team got off to a fast start, scoring 21 points in the first quarter on the way to a 38-7 rout over the Anoka Tornadoes Friday night at Goodrich Field in Anoka.
Anoka got the ball first, but the Knights forced a fumble and turned over the Tornadoes on the third play of the game. The Knights worked their way down the field and took advantage of the turnover as Desean Phillips ran in the game’s first touchdown for two yards and a 7-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, quarterback Marcus Krupke found Zach Sjelin for a six-yard score, extending the lead to 14-0. The Knights were not done yet, as Xavier Thurman returned the next Anoka punt into scoring range at the Tornado 25.
Ethan Briggs plunged into the end zone from the goal line to make the score 21-0, a lead that would stand at the end of the opening quarter. The touchdown was his first of the season.
Phillips scored his second touchdown of the game in the second quarter. This time, he scampered in from 20 yards as the Knights made it 27-0; Gavin Wermager’s PAT failed to connect. Wermager got another chance to make a kick later in the half, and he connected on a short field goal to extend the lead to 30-0.
Halftime came and went and soon the Knights and Tornadoes got back to business.
STMA would not score on its opening drive, but Matt Feldick scooped up a fumble on Anoka’s next possession and ran it back 34 yards for another score. The Knights connected on a two-point conversion to make the score 38-0.
That score would stand for most of the rest of the game, as the Knights simply played defense with a huge lead, getting their starters out of the contest relatively early. Anoka’s lone touchdown came toward the end of the game as senior Jackson Schroer found the end zone for a 13-yard score with only seconds remaining.
The STMA ground game did most of the work against Anoka, as eight different Knights carried the ball for a total of 181 yards and three touchdowns. Phillips led the way with 69 of those yards and two of the touchdowns.
STMA’s defense frustrated the Tornadoes all night long. Austin Springer and Nolan Schmitz each had eight total tackles, and Springer also forced a fumble.
Head coach Jared Essler said it was nice for the team to bounce back from the loss on homecoming and figure some more things out.
“We did some different things on offense and the kids really responded,” Essler said. “Defensively, we were lights out.”
The Knights host the Stillwater Ponies (2-4) Friday as the first of consecutive home games to close out the final regular season at Middle School West. STMA will close the regular season October 18 against Osseo.