Toppers seal playoff spot after win over the Bulldogs

By Kelsie Hoitomt

GLENWOOD CITY – The Hilltopper football team hosted the Boyceville Bulldogs on Friday night for what appeared to be the playoff decision game.

Both teams were 2-2 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference going into the night and with one game left in the regular season before the first round of playoffs on October 20, the Hilltopper’s 39-0 win over the Bulldogs meant more than enough.

“I’m very proud of our kids and how they played this game. We emphasized the importance of playing with a sense of purpose,” said coach Shane Strong.

That sense of purpose was evident from the start as Isaac Tuttle ran the ball in for a 42 yard touchdown in the opening minutes of the game to put the Toppers on the board 6-0.

The Bulldogs’ following drive would end with a failed fourth down attempt, which would put the Toppers on the 38 yard line.

The Toppers were able to move the ball down the field and a 13 yard pass completion from Nick Mrdutt to Matt Schouten would put the ball on the three yard line.

Adam Holmquist inched the ball closer to the goal line as the second quarter started.

Mrdutt would take the ball himself for the touchdown to give the Toppers a 12-0 lead.

The Bulldogs would start their drive on their own 37 yard line. Matt Leach was able to connect with Zach Klassen for a 23 yard pass completion. Klassen would push the Bulldogs down the field with a 27 yard run.

However the ball would change hands again after the Bulldogs had another failed fourth down attempt, which placed the Hilltoppers on their own 11 yard line.

Mrdutt handed the ball off to Tuttle for the first play of the drive. Tuttle proceeded to find an opening to the right side for an 89 yard touchdown run.

Jeff Kopacz took the ball in for the two-point conversion play to push the Hilltoppers further ahead 20-0 with 7:39 left in the second quarter.

There was a lull in the game in the remainder of the final seven minutes of the first half as neither team would score.

The Bulldogs received the kick off to start the second quarter. Klassen and Will Kraft were able to pick up a few yards to put the ball on their own 33 yard.

However, on fourth and one to go the Toppers’ defense was able to hold the Bulldogs and they would again take the ball over on the Boyceville 33 yard line.

This drive was short lived as Dominic Olson intercepted a pass from Mrdutt to put the Bulldogs on their own 16 yard line.

Again the Toppers’ defense was on fire as they held the Bulldogs and forced them to punt on fourth down.

The punt was bobbled and Holmquist and Alex Little were able to tackle Brady Schutts and recover the ball on the five yard line.

The Bulldogs did a nice job holding the Hilltoppers’ offensive line as it took till fourth down and inches to go before Mrdutt was able to push through for the touchdown to put the score at 26-0.

The following Bulldog drive would end in frustration as Kraft suffered an injury to an already aggravated hip and he was taken out for the rest of the game.

Leach would be forced to scramble outside of the pocket and fumbled the ball on a sack attempt.

The Hilltopper’s recovered the ball on the 34 yard line and were able to bring the ball within sight of goal to start the fourth quarter.

The Toppers were held to a punt, which they faked and were unsuccessful at scoring.

They would soon get the ball back after a punt by Schutts put the Toppers on the 46 yard line.

Mrdutt would again take the ball himself for a 43 yard touchdown run with a little over eight minutes left in the game and the score at 32-0.

The Bulldogs would again face frustration as Tuttle stripped the ball from a Bulldog runner, which was recovered by Austin Moe on the 46 yard line.

Tuttle ran the ball to the 18 yard line and then it was handed off to Kopacz for the final touchdown of the game.

Mrdutt’s extra-point was successful to give the Hilltoppers the 39-0 lead with five minutes left in the game.

Junior varsity players and other players were pulled off the bench and put in the game for both teams for the final two minutes.

Marcus Kadinger caused the some noise as he recovered a fumble for close to a 20 yard run.

The clock would eventually tick down to zero with the Hilltopper’s shutting out the Bulldogs at home 39-0.

“Our focus was getting back to great attitude and effort. We know that our effort on the field reflects on our community and regardless of the scoreboard on Friday nights, we owe it to our community to play our absolute best,” expressed Strong.

Playing at their best is what they did as Tuttle, the Hilltopper’s leading runner, rushed for 228 yards against the Bulldogs.

Holmquist had 92 rushing yards, Mrdutt had 59 yards and Kopacz picked up 36 yards.

Mrdutt had one completion to Schouten for 12 yards.

For the Bulldogs, Leach had 2 completion for 14 yards with Klassen receiving both of them.

Klassen had 11 carries for 45 yards, one being a 27 yard run and Kraft had 13 carries 39 yards.

The Bulldogs had 105 yards total and the Hilltoppers had 427 total yards.

Both teams will play their last regular season games on Thursday. The Bulldogs will travel to Elk Mound to play the undefeated Mounders and the Hilltoppers will head to St. Croix Central to face the 4-1 Panthers.

The Bulldogs will need to win in order to get a seat in the playoffs, which start on Saturday, October 20.