Hilltoppers run roughshod over Vikings

FREDERIC – An anticipated battle between ranked teams quickly turned into a one-side rout here last Friday, August 30.

For the second straight week, Glenwood City’s blue and white blitzkrieg brought its offensive firepower to bear on a non-conference football opponent and overwhelmed it with a torrent of rapid-fire scoring strikes in the first quarter of play.

The Hilltoppers, ranked number one in the latest Wissport.net Coaches Poll for Division 7, put up 28 unanswered points in the first 12 minutes in a shock and awe campaign for which the Frederic Vikings had little defense against. In the end, Glenwood City ran all over Frederic and its home field enroute to a convincing 49-7 victory.

“One of the things that we really emphasize this year is coming out of the gates fast,” stated Hilltoppers’ head coach Shane Strong. “Thoroughbred racers is what we have been telling the boys. Last year, we often times started slow and then would pick it up as the game would go on.”

“We do not want to be in that position this year,” Strong noted. “In several games, we had to come back in the second half, it worked out for us but when we run into that really good team they are not going to allow that to happen.”

“Very pleased!” said Strong after the game. “28 points in the first quarter, the energy level was really high and we were excited to play. We knew Frederic would be a physical tough team and I was really happy with our performance.”

The lopsided road win, the Toppers’ second in as many weeks, was reflected in the game statistics as well as the scoreboard.

Glenwood City piled up 317 of it 323 total yards on the ground as senior running back Isaac Tuttle rushed for 150 of those yards and three scores on just 10 carries. Tuttle had quite a compliment of back field mates as eight other Toppers carried the pigskin Friday in Frederic. Fellow senior Jeff Kopacz had a pair of touchdowns among his nine carries and finished with 39 yards. The Mrdutt brothers tallied 80 yards total; Nathan Mrdutt ran for 50 yards on nine hauls and Nick Mrdutt had a half dozen runs for 30 yards. Nick also threw a six-yard touchdown to Todd Petersen for his only completion of the night.

Glenwood City also set a tone on the defensive side of the ball. The Hilltoppers tackled Vikings’ runners for a loss on nearly a third of the host’s running plays. In the third quarter alone, Glenwood City allowed Frederic to run only six plays, all of which ended in negative results.

With the Toppers’ hitting on both offensive and defensive cylinders, it proved to be a tough contest for the homestanding Vikings as the Toppers would again institute a running clock early in the second half.

Glenwood City received the opening kick of the game and with prompt efficiency moved the ball down field and into the end zone in just six plays and 1:40.

Isaac Tuttle had runs of 11, four, and 18 yards during the drive but it was Jeff Kopacz that took the Toppers in for the first score on a nice 16-yard run. Nick Mrdutt tacked on the PAT with a kick through the middle of the uprights for a 7-0 lead.

The Hilltoppers’ offense would soon be back on the field after the defense secured a Viking fumble at the Frederic 18 just two plays later.

Much as it had done the previous week against Ladysmith, Glenwood City took full advantage of the turnover and shortened field to add more points to its total.

Nick Mrdutt would called his own number for a five-yard, first-down gainer. Tuttle would then take the ensuing handoff and sprint 11 yards to the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns. Nick Mrdutt made good on the kick to put the Toppers ahead 14-0 with 8:52 left on the first-quarter clock.

Special teams would serve up a touchdown for the Toppers on the Vikings next possession. After coming up a few yards short on three straight runs, Frederic lined up to punt the ball. Jacob Hierlmeier broke through the line and blocked the punt attempt of Vikings’ Irric Erickson. The loose ball bounced off him into the air before being snatched up by Jeff Kopacz who returned it 35 yards for the score. This was Kopacz’s second punt return in as many games and gave the Toppers’ their third TD in less than six minutes. Nick Mrdutt added the PAT kick and the GC advantage burgeoned to 21-0.

Another Frederic fumble, recovered by the Vikings, and a Tuttle sack of Frederic quarterback Jaryd Braden resulted in a loss of 11 yards forced yet another three-and-out for the home team.

A punt of 28 yards gave Glenwood City excellent field position at the Frederic 46 to start its third offensive foray of the first quarter. It would be a short one, however, as Isaac Tuttle took the pitch from Nick Mrdutt and broke through the Vikings’ defensive front and sprinted 46-yards to the score. Mrdutt added yet another point-after kick to make it GC 28 and Frederic 0 with 5:00 left in the first.

The Vikings would finally get out of neutral on their ensuing offensive possession. Behind the junior running duo of Peter Chenal and Irric Erickson, Frederic moved across the midfield stripe for the first time in the game.

Erickson also saved the drive for the Vikings as he alertly picked up a fumble and tossed it to quarterback Jaryd Braden for a gain of 10 yards and a first down at the Toppers’ 24 yard line. Glenwood City’s defense would stuff the next two Frederic runs for no gain leaving the Vikings to face a third and ten situation. Frederic would go to the top for the first down as Braden lofted a nice pass over the arms of Topper Marcus Kadinger into the awaiting arms of his receiver Roman Poirier, who was tackled at the GC three yard line as the first quarter clock struck triple zeroes.

Peter Chenal would put the Vikings into the end zone on the second play of the second quarter as he carried it in from two yards out at 11:18. Eric Chenal would kick the extra point to make it 28-7.

Glenwood City would respond with a touchdown drive.

Tuttle, Kopacz and Nathan Mrdutt provided a good backfield mix as they shared the rushing duties. The Hilltoppers kept their attack grounded as it ran 12 times. The final a 3-yard, fourth down, Jeff Kopacz run broke the goal line and gave Glenwood City its fifth touchdown of the first half and a 34-7 edge after the PAT was blocked.

Frederic would move into Toppers’ territory on a well executed punt fake and pass. Even though Glenwood City was expecting the trickery, Vikings’ punter Irric Erickson found a wide open Roman Poirier in the flat for a 21 yard gain. Poirier would draw an unsportsmanlike conduct call at the end of the play and a game ejection when he kicked Isaac Tuttle after he made the tackle. The penalty pushed the Vikings back to the GC 49 where the drive floundered and they were forced to punt for real four plays later.

“We rallied and stopped them and that was big,” said Strong of the fake punt.

The half would come to an end three plays later.

The Glenwood City would build on that defensive momentum in the second half. The Hilltoppers’ halftime adjustments limited the Vikings to just six plays in the third quarter for a combined loss of 21 yards.

“We made two adjustments at halftime based on their play calling in the first half,” added Strong. “We thought that we could take advantage of how they were calling their plays. To the kids credit, they executed the adjustments very well. They were running at our weak side so we slanted back to that weak side trying to have more guys than they did at the point of attack so they couldn’t block us all.”

Frederic had to punt away the first possession of the second half after losing yardage on three straight running attempts.

Glenwood City had no such trouble moving the football. In fact, it took the Hilltoppers just six plays to cover the 51 yards for yet another touchdown. The honor went to Isaac Tuttle as he took a third-down hand-off and ran 18 yards for his third TD of the contest. Nathan Mrdutt ran in the conversion to make it 41-7 in GC’s favor at 7:57.

Keyed by a Jacob Hierlmeier sack, the Toppers would again receive the ball at mid field. Aided by a Vikings’ offside penalty on a fourth and two, Glenwood City would turn yet another possession into six points. On the tenth play of the drive, quarterback Nick Mrdutt lofted a six-yard touchdown pass to Todd Petersen as the third quarter clock expired. Mrdutt would also kick the extra point for the Toppers’ final point in a 49-7 victory.

The final 12 minutes of the game would pass quickly and without a score under the running clock rule.

The Toppers finished with 323 total yards while its defense held the Vikings to just 98 yards (55 yards passing and 43 yard rushing.)

After playing the first two games on the road, in part due to the delayed construction schedule of Glenwood City’s new football field, the Hilltoppers will finally inaugurate their new field this Friday, September 6 when it welcomes St. Paul Academy, MN.

“I can’t wait to play at home,” said Strong.

The Toppers’ head coach said that St. Paul Academy is a private school of 400 plus in the high school.

“They are a spread team,” said Strong. “They have a nice quarterback and run the spread option. They will try to spread the field on us and try to let their athletes run inside but I think our team speed can match up with anyone on our schedule which will be a huge key for this game.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.