By Marlys Kruger
Coming off another playoff season, the Mounders opened the 2005 season by picking up over 400 total yards (245 in the air by quarterback Brandon O’Connell), but lost the game 47-41 to Wisconsin Heights. They went to 0-2 after a 33-0 shellacking by Owen-Withee but getting into conference play put them on a winning track temporarily with a 42-22 win over Mondovi.
O’Connell passed for a pair of TDs, one to Justin Ellingstad and another to David Green, and ran in for a score in the win. A loss to Glenwood City 26-12 followed as the Toppers Jordan Myers scored all four touchdowns for his team but coach Pedersen again figured out how to get his team on track as they won four straight conference games. Starting with a 17-14 win over St. Croix Central, a game that saw the Mounders rush for only 40 yards, O’Connell connected with Jesse Jensen from 14 yards out and with Mike Shea on a 70 yard bomb but Jensen’s 24 yard field goal was the difference in the game. Blasting Boyceville 47-0, O’Connell completed all four of his pass attempts and they all went for touchdowns, twice to Green and one each to Ellingstad and Jensen. An injury plagued Mounder team squeaked out a 14-6 win against Spring Valley and after being down 6-0 to Unity, they came back with 42 straight points for the win.
But the streak ended when they lost to Colfax 30-8 for the first time since 1998 as O’Connell threw three picks in the game, ending Elk Mound’s regular season at 5-4, good enough to make the playoffs. In a Level One game, the Mounders were rocked by Eau Claire Regis 38-6, with their only points coming with 38 seconds left in the game on an O’Connell to Green 68 yard pass.
All Conference players for offense were first team Jensen as a running back and place kicker, and Gary Wilcox. Second team were O’Connell as the QB and punter, Shea, Ellingstad, Matt Baker, Green and honorable mention Joe Harrison. On the defensive side, Jensen and O’Connell were first team picks, Green, Jake Kresel, Wilcox and Shane Kurtzhals second team and Ellingstad was honorable mention.
Injuries plague Mounders in 2006
Ready for his senior year, O’Connell fell on some hard luck when he injured his knee in a scrimmage, resulting in a torn ACL and possibly the end to his season. The Mounders lost 23-0 to Edgar and 33-7 to Ladysmith but again in conference play, earned their first win 40-0 over Glenwood City as Jensen and Andrew Kirby combined for 247 rushing yards. A 20-6 loss to SCC followed as quarterback Jason Beaulieu hit Green for the only score for the Mounders, but O’Connell decided he wasn’t going to miss his senior year and he came back, torn ACL and all for the next game. To say he made an immediate impact would be an understatement as he tossed three TD passes, all to Green in a 42-6 blasting of Boyceville and topped that with four of them while stomping Spring Valley 35-6. In a 37-0 win over hapless Unity, Mitch Oas, playing for an injured Jensen, rushed for three scores and in a showdown against those neighboring Vikings in which both teams were 4-1 in conference play, the Mounders lost 14-10. Although they lost their final regular season game against Mondovi 28-14, they went to the D5 playoffs with a 4-3 conference record. Facing the number one ranked Ladysmith team, they led 6-0 on a 47 pass from O’Connell to Ellingstad, but they eventually lost 27-13.
First team All Conference players for offense were Kirby, Green and Baker, second team O’Connell and Ellingstad while Dan Hayden and Harrison were honorable mention. On defense for first team were Corey Pederson, Green and Baker, Ellingstad was second team and Harrison again honorable mention.
It appeared non-conference games were tough to win as the Mounders followed a pattern and lost 38-0 to Edgar and 20-14 to Ladysmith to start the 2007 season. With Beaulieu at quarterback, Jake Mack doing most of the running and Dan Hayden doing a lot of kicking, Elk Mound beat SCC 18-7 to get on the winning track. Mack scored on the ground, Beaulieu hit Eric Blumer on a 77 yard pass and Hayden booted a 27 yard field goal in the win. Mack ran for 141 yards and four scores in a 56-0 bombing of Boyceville and in a 17-0 win over Spring Valley, these three guys were involved again as Mack snagged a TD pass from Beaulieu, ran another one in and Hayden kicked a 26 yard field goal. A 20-19 loss to Cameron followed but the Mounders finally beat Colfax 14-7 as Blumer recovered a Colfax fumble in the endzone and Derek Susa ran the ball in for six points. Brandon DeVine and Blumer had the task of keeping the Viking’s big play maker Dakota Smith in check and managed to do just that. Although they lost two straight conference games, 24-6 to Mondovi and 33-3 to the 6-0 Hilltoppers, the Mounders were back in playoffs, this time in D6. Up 21-7 in the fourth quarter against Clear Lake on a windy field, two bad kicks by the Mounders gave the Warriors good field position, allowing them to score twice, and they ended up losing 22-21 on a 44 yard field goal with 39 seconds left by Lance Wineger.
Earning first team All Conference honors on offense were Blumer, Baker and Hayden, second team Mack and Nick Leland and HM Beaulieu and Harrison. First team defense were Pederson, Baker and HM Blumer.
Same beginning, same ending
The 2008 season started the same way as the three previous years as the Mounders dropped their first two games, both non-conference 26-24 to Blair-Taylor and 18-13 to Independence-Gilmanton. Mack proved to be a big playmaker as he collected a 78 yard scoring pass in the first game and a 65 yard TD pass in the second game. A 30-0 win over Boyceville to start conference play followed along with a 14-2 victory against Spring Valley as QB Hayden passed to Ryan Grimm twice and kicked both extra points for all of the team points. Hayden connected with speedster Shane Grahs for an 85 yard score in a 21-0 win over Cameron and Susa and Mack combined to run for 245 yards in a 43-20 win against Colfax. Mondovi stopped the streak with a 42-7 win but a 34-18 win over Glenwood City gave the Mounders a playoff berth yet again. Susa scored on a 32 yard run and returned an interception from 87 yards out while Grahs scored on his own pick from 62 yards away against the Hilltoppers. They dropped their final regular season game 28-6 to SCC as Hayden hit Mack for another bomb and their only points, this time for 75 yards.
But alas, the Mounders were back in D5 for playoffs and they lost the first game 37-0 to Chetek, ending the season with a 5-5 record.
Hayden was a first team AC player on offense as the quarterback and place kicker and Mack was also first team while Susa, Dakota Deleasky, Braham McCullough and Chad Mousel were second team and Jarod Weiser HM. On defense, second team honors went to Susa, Mousel and Deleasky.
Garrick Day took over at quarterback for the 2009 season (the year I started working for The Messenger) and tossed a 67 yard TD pass to Jake Puzio in a 27-20 loss to Blair-Taylor to start the year. They broke the pattern from previous years however, with a 34-8 win over Eleva-Strum as Day threw scoring passes to Puzio and Austin DeLong, ran in from 21 yards out and Derek Susa scored on a 43 yard run. Day connected with Puzio for three TDs and ran for another as did Susa in a 35-0 slamming of St. Croix Falls and in a 41-0 crushing of Colfax, Day was a one man wrecking crew, running for 165 yards and passing for 156 with a scoring pass to Puzio and Grimm. Day also had a pretty powerful and accurate foot as he booted a game winning field goal with 20 seconds left in a 17-14 win over Mondovi. But the Mounders were “stunned” when Boyceville forced them into three overtimes and won the game 6-0.
Day came back with TD passes to Grahs and Grimm in a 26-14 win over SCC and the Mounders scored all 37 of their points in the first half as they slammed Spring Valley 37-0. Susa scored three times on the ground in the win and Day kicked all five extra points. In a game that would determine the conference championship, the Mounders took on an undefeated Glenwood City team and came away with a 20-14 win to share the title. Moving into playoffs, they lost 21-3 to Arcadia, which according to Pedersen, was the best team they played all season. Named All Conference on defense were Susa, Grahs,Travis Baker and Deleasky and Mousel second team, and first team offense were Day, Susa, Puzio, Weiser and Deleasky while Garrett LaBerge was second team.
Another bid for the conference title in 2010?
Finally winning a season opener, the Mounders defeated Ellsworth by scoring all 21 of their points in the first quarter in a 21-7 win as Grahs ran in from a yard out and Ryan Rinehart blocked a punt which was recovered by Micah Mauer in the endzone while new quarterback Jeremie Solem connected with DeLong for a score. Pedersen certainly knew how to produce kickers as Solem booted all three extra points. After a 33-2 victory over Eleva-Strum they crushed Colfax again 42-14 as John Klemp rushed for 122 yards and Solem was 11 for 11 and 144 yards passing with three TD passes, one each to DeLong, Grahs and Marcus Mauer. They fell by the wayside to Mondovi 26-21 and took care of Boyceville this time, 19-6 with Grahs scoring on the ground and picking off Bulldog quarterback Ryan Bloom twice. In the most exciting game of the year, the Mounders were down 16-0 against SCC before Solem connected with Rinehart, DeLong and Marcus Mauer for scoring passes. Behind again 30-26 with 1:39 left in the game, a 60 yard scoring drive resulted in a Solem to Mauer TD with 25 seconds left for a 33-30 win.
Solem threw a trio of TD passes, two to Mauer and one to DeLong in a 27-0 win over Spring Valley and after falling behind yet again, this time 14-0 to Glenwood City with the highlight of the game being Austin Adleman blocking a punt and Klemp picking it up and running it in from 25 yards out. After a 21-7 win over St. Croix Falls, the Mounders were 8-1 overall and 6-1 in conference for second place behind Mondovi. And the now famous story of the playoff game at Grantsburg took place as the teams played in cold, wet and windy conditions and the lights went out on the field, forcing them to move over to Frederic to complete the game in which the Mounders lost 44-0. First team all conference players were Rinehart and Grahs on defense and Adelman and Mason DeRusha second team while Solem was first team offense as the place kicker and second team quarterback along with other second teamers Klemp and Adelman and HM Marcus Mauer, Aaron Turek and Grahs.
Highlights of the 2011 season included a 27-20 double overtime win over Boyceville as Matt Hastreiter threw the winning pass to Garret Phillips and they shut the Bulldogs down on their final possession. After being down 19-6 at the half against Spring Valley, yet another strong kicker emerged as sophomore Ryan Mueller booted a 28 and a 27 yard field goal and after Hastreiter passed to four year varsity player DeLong and Dakota Tarnow for scores, Mueller made both extra point kicks in a 20-19 win. With a 3-3 conference record, the Mounders went to the playoffs and were creamed by number one ranked Colby 42-0.
The 2012 season saw the Mounders return to win the conference championship with a 5-1 record after losing the last game to Boyceville. Defeating Grantsburg in the Level 1 game 42-6 was pretty satisfying to Pedersen and his staff after the miserable loss to them two years earlier, but the Mounders lost 33-15 to Prescott in Level 2 after which Pedersen made his official retirement announcement. Nick Heit passed for over 1,400 yards on the season and Jordan Klemp became the first Elk Mound runner to go over 1,000 yards since Ryan Schumacher in 2004 with 1,277 yards.
Pedersen ended his 39 year coaching career with a 261-128 record, placing him 12th on the list of Wisconsin coaching wins, leading his team to the playoffs 22 times and winning 14 conference titles. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003 and was the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week. He was awarded a check for the school and the money was used for new goalposts on the high school field.
In my four years working with Pedersen, he was always quick to remind me that the wins and losses were not always the most important things about coaching high school football. Building lifelong friendships, learning teamwork and discipline and having fun were concepts he hoped his players would leave the program with. And having the same assistant coaches with him for so many years was a big key to his team’s successes. Jeff Mack was with him 27 years, Mark Traun 26 and Jack Curtis started with him and was his sidekick for over 20 years. The program was turned over to Dave Lew, an assistant for Pedersen the past 11 years, and although Lew did not win the first game he coached for the team, he made sure his team was ready for the second one as they pounded Eleva-Strum 42-0. No doubt this was the first in a long run of victories as Lew helps the Mounders carry on the tradition of winning football!