ELK MOUND — For the past several years, the Elk Mound football team has had their way on the gridiron against the neighboring Colfax boys. In fact, you have to go back to 2006 when Jason Eckert was the coach and had big name players like Dakota Smith and Ricky Hagen to see the Vikings post a win against the Mounders. And although they had to come from behind a few times to do it, Colfax used a strong second half to break the Mounders six year streak with a 46-27 win on Homecoming night for the Mounders Sept. 27.
Offense wasn’t a problem for either team as they combined for over 1,000 total yards in the four quarters. The Vikings had a pair of 100 yards plus runners in the game in Noah Pretasky and Jeremiah Wait while the Mounders had two runners with over 80 yards each including Jon Storing and Noah Zurbuchen. But there were plenty of big defensive plays in the game by both teams, too.
Storing and Zurbuchen helped set up the first score of the game as they took turns running the ball on the Mounders first possession after the defense forced the Vikings to punt. Starting on their own 25, the Mounders moved the ball downfield with the running game, then used a little trickery as receiver Dane Lew took the handoff from quarterback Travis Nelson and passed 39 yards to Adam Gottschalk for six points. Ryan Mueller booted the extra point for a 7-6 lead at the 7:03 mark of the quarter.
Wait returned the kickoff to his own 25 and on second and 10, Colfax quarterback Jarrod Rudi found Ethin Kiekhafer alone in the middle of the field and Kiekhafer did all the rest as he streaked to the endzone for a 75 yard score. His kick was off the mark however, leaving the Vikings behind by a point halfway through the stanza.
Keeping the ball on the ground again, the Mounders moved the ball from their own 35 to the Vikings 11, and since it worked once, Mounder coach Dave Lew had Dane Lew take the handoff again, and what do ya know–the result was the same as Gottschalk snared another TD pass. With Mueller’s kick it was 14-7 with just over three minutes still to go in the first stanza.
And not to be outdone, the Vikings drove 75 yards on their next possession with the big play a 49 yard pass and run to Pretasky, then Rudi finished off the drive with a five yard run with just eight seconds left. A penalty on the Vikings on the extra point moved the ball back and the Mounders stuffed the ball carrier, keeping the lead at 14-12.
Gottschalk took the kickoff and nearly broke it as Kiekhafer had to make a touchdown saving tackle at the Vikings’ 30 yard line. Five running plays put the ball at the nine and this time, Nelson aired it out and found Colton Potter in the corner of the endzone for another Mounder score. Another Mueller kick and just like that, the Mounders increased their lead to 21-12.
But this was a different Viking team than the one that was stomped on by Glenwood City the previous week and they came back yet again as they pounded the ball on the ground with Kiekhafer, Wait and Pretasky doing the damage. A 25 yard pass completion to Devon Utpadel in between the runs helped them get to the Elk Mound 11 yard line and on the seventh play of the drive, Rudi found Kiekhafer in the left side of the field for another six points. Rudi, running the option, took the ball in for two points and the Mounders held just a one point lead with 5:44 to go in the half.
After picking up a first down on a pass from Nelson to Cole Tyman, the Vikings toughened up their defense and forced a Mounder punt. Pretasky made a little shake and bake move and ran for 32 yards and after a short gain by Wait, Pretasky found an opening on the right side and it was off to the races as he scampered to paydirt from 51 yards out. The option run was fumbled as Rudi tried to pitch the ball but Colfax had their first lead of the game 26-21 with 1:53 to go in the half.
Elk Mound couldn’t move the ball as Wait, (also the Viking’s defensive back), all five foot eight of him, put a big hit on Tyman on a pass play, and although Tyman somehow managed to hang on to the ball, it was for loss of yards. On the next play, Wait made yet another big play as he stepped in front of a taller receiver and picked off the ball at their own 19 yard line. After an eight yard completion from Rudi to Kiekhafer, Wait broke off a 44 yard run, Rudi kept the ball for 36 yards and the Vikings moved the ball to the one yard line. Having used their third tim out on the drive, Rudi spiked the ball to run a final play with hopes of the Vikings taking a bigger lead. But the Mounders defensive line stood their ground and refused to let the Viking ball carrier into the endzone as the half ended.
“We would have had the momentum in our favor if we had scored on that play,” Colfax coach Mark Maloney said. “But I give Elk Mound credit for making a big stop.”
Elk Mound took the second half kickoff and continued to move the ball on the ground as Storing picked up yardage on an 11 yard run and snared a pass for 11 yards. He then picked up a first down with an eight yard run but on a fourth and two Aliymu Davis, filling in for an injured Jacob Steinke at the cornerback spot, broke up a pass attempt to give Colfax the ball. But after moving the ball over 70 yards to the Elk Mound 20, Dane Lew returned the favor and intercepted a Rudi pass in the endzone. The third quarter ended with neither team scoring and Colfax holding a 26-21 lead.
Elk Mound was still pounding the ball as Zach Mohr gained yards and Gottschalk snagged another pass, Tyler Deutschlander took the lead back for the Mounders as he dragged some Colfax defenders with him up the middle and scored from 10 yards out. The two point pass was incomplete but Elk Mound was up 27-26 with 10:17 to go in the game.
Then it was gut check time for the Vikings and they knew if they were going to make yet another come back, they were going to have to use their physicality against the younger Elk Mound team. (I’m sure that’s a real word because I heard it on ESPN).The front line began to blow holes open as Kiekhafer and Rudi gained yards on the ground, Utpadel grabbed another pass, this time for nine yards, Saywer DeMoe gained 16 yards up the middle and speedster Pretasky zipped around the right side for a 24 yard score. Rudi ran in for two points and Colfax was back on top 34-27 with 8:16 to go.
Another big defensive play by the Vikings stopped the Mounders on their next possession as Utpadel recovered a fumble and the Vikings took advantage of the turnover as Wait ran for 18 yards, then on the next play scored from 15 yards out. The two point try was fumbled again but with 6:21 to go, Colfax was up 40-27.
And the young Mounders were still not ready to quit as Nelson completed a pair of passes to Alex Hollister and with some nice runs by Zurbuchen, the Mounders were at the Vikings’ 25 yard line before Pretasky, who had perfect position on the ball picked off a pass in the endzone to thwart the Mounder’s attack. And on second down, Pretasky broke off an Adrian Peterson like run as he got around the corner and flew down the right sideline again, this time for 80 yards to seal the deal for Colfax.
“We had problems handling their option running game and containing their backs in the second half,” Mounder coach Lew said. “But our kids played hard until the end and didn’t back down, We play a lot of young kids but our seniors are real leaders and they kept us in the game.”
The Mounders had a final chance with the ball and moved for a first down on an 11 yard run by Zurbuchen, but forced to pass this late in the game, Wait came up with his second interception of the game, this time in the endzone, and a couple of knees by Rudi finally ended the battle.
“Our kids really stepped up tonight,” coach Maloney said after his first win over the Mounders. “They blocked hard and our backs ran to the right spots. Elk Mound’s running game up the middle was hard to stop but we made some adjustments at the half. We were much more physical tonight than we have been in earlier games,” he added.
Kiekhafer, a four year starter on the varsity also experienced his first win over the Mounders.
“We came in and played with a lot of heart tonight,” he said. “Everyone knew what we had to do and we did it. I think playing them on their Homecoming made us play harder.”
Pretasky made the most of his eight carries as he rushed for 257 yards and three TDs, Wait picked up 132 yards on 15 attempts and Rudi, running the option added 50 yards on eight runs. Rudi completed nine of 12 passes for 207 yards with a pair of TD tosses and one interception with Kiekhafer snagging four passes for 106 yards awhile Utpadel grabbed three for 44 yards.
According to Elk Mound stats, Storing rushed for 106 yards on 14 carries and Zurbuchen collected 84 yards on 18 attempts. Nelson passed for 128 yards on 16 of 30 passes and Gottschalk was the leading receiver with seven receptions for 131 yards and a pair of scores.
Colfax will play at Cadott this Friday night in what is technically a varsity contest, but according to Maloney because Cadott did not know they would have a varsity team until late, it cannot be counted in the standings for any team they play. Elk Mound travels to face conference leading and undefeated Mondovi.