COLFAX — The Colfax football team knew they were facing an uphill battle when they hosted the Mondovi Buffaloes for their Homecoming game last Friday night.
Mondovi came into the Bjurquist Athletic Complex undefeated at 7-0 and had already clinched a tie for the Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship by defeating every other conference opponent.
The Vikings managed to keep Mondovi in check for part of the game but in the end, the Buffaloes came out with a 30-8 win, claiming the conference title all for themselves.
Colfax, now 2-3 in the conference, needs a win in their final game at Boyceville this week to be eligible for post season play.
Mondovi took the opening kickoff to their own 38 and using eight running plays, moved the ball to the Colfax 22 yard line. Quarterback Zach Ganschow surprised just about everyone in the packed stadium when he lofted a pass to the right corner of the end zone over a Viking defender for a scoring pass to Erich Wolf and a two point conversion pass on a one-handed grab by Colter Dziekan made it 8-0 Mondovi at 7:20 of the first quarter.
The Vikings couldn’t make any headway on their first possession but after punting the ball away, they took it back when Noah Pretasky pounced on a Buffalo fumble. With good field position at the Buffalo 33, Logan Sikora, Pretasky and Jeremiah Wait took turns running and Wait picked up a first down to the 20. But an illegal block penalty along with an incomplete pass, a quarterback sack and finally a Mondovi interception in the end zone snuffed out the Viking’s chance to put points on the board.
After taking the ball over on their own 20, the Buffaloes moved quickly and on their sixth play, Dustin Nelson streaked down the sideline for a 63 yard TD, then ran in the two point conversion for a 16-0 lead.
Aliymu Davis returned the kickoff back 30 yards to the Colfax 46 and runs by Pretasky, Wait and Ethin Kiekhafer gave them a first down but three plays later they were forced to punt again.
A great punt by Jarrod Rudi put the ball down on the Mondovi eight yard line but the Buffs simply controlled the ball for over six minutes with 11 runs and two complete passes before Brett Vetterkin took the ball in from a yard out then ran in for two points and Mondovi was up 24-0 with 58 seconds to go in the half.
Colfax moved the ball on several running plays but the half ended with them on the Buffalo 30 yard line.
If there was a moral victory in the game for Colfax, it came in the third quarter as they adhered to the old adage “a team can’t score if they don’t have the ball.”
Colfax took the kickoff and kept the ball in their possession for almost nine minutes, running 20 plays and picking up five first downs. Pretasky picked up two of them and Wait another and on a fourth down, Mondovi was called for roughing the kicker on Rudi’s punt attempt, giving the Vikings a first down at Mondovi’s 30 yard line. Running plays by Pretasky, Wait and Rudi made it fourth and one and Pretasky, after an official measurement had another set of downs for the team. It looked like Rudi had a nice gain on second down as he got around the corner, but a holding call on the Vikings brought the ball back to their 22 and yet another drive stalled when they picked up just 11 yards on three plays when they needed 18.
“We would have liked to have put some points up, but that was a great drive for our offense,” coach Mark Maloney said. “Our right side of the line did a great job opening holes and we kept running behind them.”
The Colfax defense held Mondovi scoreless in the quarter, but moving into the fourth, the Buffaloes added another TD on a Nelson 13 yard run with 10:33 to go in the game for a 30-0 advantage.
Colfax finally broke their scoring drought after taking the ball over with 6:27 to go.
Rudi connected with Kiekhafer for a ten yard reception to midfield, and although Rudi got credited for a touchdown pass, it was all Pretasky as he caught a short pass, appeared to be headed out of bounds, then twisted, turned and broke tackles on his way to a 50-yard score. Rudi found Devon Utpadel for a two-point pass.
Mondovi moved the ball to the Vikings’ 13 on their final possession, they graciously took a knee twice to end the game.
“We knew Mondovi had a lot of weapons and good depth and it would be a tough game for us,” Maloney said.”I am not disappointed at all with our effort. We didn’t take a step back at all even with the loss.” he added.
According to Colfax statistics, Colfax picked up 13 first downs while Mondovi had 15, but the Buffaloes had over 350 yards rushing while the Vikings had 172, Pretasky rushed for 62 yards on 20 carries, and Wait added 57 on 11 tries for the Vikings. Rudi completed three of nine passes for 65 yards with Kiekhafer snaring two of them.
“We are in playoff mode from now on,” Maloney concluded. “It’s one and done starting with the Boyceville game and the coaching staff and players are excited to be playing in a game that could get us to the playoffs. It’s been a while since Colfax has been in this position and we plan on being ready to play.”