BOYCEVILLE — It wasn’t exactly how the Elk Mound football team wanted to win the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, but in the end they managed to do just that even after losing the final game of the season to Boyceville 12-0.
The Mounders started the game on the Bulldogs’ home field last Thursday with a 5-0 conference record (7-0 overall) and already had at least a share of the title, but had hopes of finishing off the regular season with a perfect record. St. Croix Central was a game behind them with just one loss but was beat soundly by Glenwood City, giving Elk Mound the championship all to themselves. It was the 15th conference title for the Mounders and 14th in the 39 years of coaching for Dan Pedersen.
It certainly wasn’t pretty for the Mounders as they had their lowest offensive output of the season. Boyceville knew they had to win this final game to become eligible for a playoff game and they set the tone from the get go. Although Mounder running back Jordan Klemp had surpassed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season in the previous game, the Bulldog defense held him to just 32 yards in this game on 11 carries. And quarterback Nick Heit, after throwing for over 1,300 yards in the first seven games, was just 8 for 22 for 84 yards. Top receiver Dakota Tarnow did not play after getting injured at school and Austin Hanson was the leading receiver with two catches for 26 yards.
The game was scoreless until the second quarter when Will Kraft broke loose for a 48 yard touchdown. Boyceville controlled the ball the rest of the game, barely allowing Elk Mound to get their hands on it, and put things away when Zach Klassen scored from a yard out with 5:13 left in the game.
“I give all the credit to Boyceville tonight,” Pedersen said. “ They were very physical and they beat us up front. They stopped our running game and they really came after our quarterback and didn’t allow him to get any good looks to complete passes. They controlled the ball and I think they ran three times more plays than we did. We were disappointed in the loss but we are proud of the way we played this season. Winning the conference championship was not easy with all the good teams we faced. The boys worked hard for it. Now, we need to fix some things and hopefully do well in the playoffs,” he added.
Earning the number two seed in Group A of Division 5 allows the Mounders to host a first round playoff game this Friday against the number seven seed Grantsburg team. Game time is 7:00.