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Stifling defense leads Glenwood City to gridiron win over Amery

AMERY —  If you cannot move the football, its hard to win the game.

Just ask the much larger Amery Warriors.

A stifling Glenwood City defense allowed Amery runners to gain just 19 yards on 29 attempts – that’s the entire game.

That’s less than a yard a carry!

And even though the Toppers did surrender a couple of long pass plays, they showed plenty of offensive pop to knock the Warriors down and out for 33-10 in a non-conference football victory played on Amery’s home field Friday, August 28.

The Hilltoppers, now 2-0 on the young season, lead 14-10 at the half but broke open the game with three unanswered touchdowns in the second half.

“I was very pleased with the effort from our kids,” Shane Strong, Glenwood City head football coach said following the win.

“Amery was bigger up front and really had more depth than we did,” continued Strong. “Our kids looked at this game as an opportunity to defeat a bigger school despite our lack of size and depth.”

The Toppers’ defensive prowess even helped overcome an early gamble that went awry and lead to the Warriors lone touchdown.

After taking the opening kick off and securing a first down, Glenwood City’s drive stalled at its own 37. But instead of punting on fourth and three, Coach Strong called for a fake punt that resulted in Jake Logghe being hit and tackled for a seven-yard loss.

Taking over on downs at the Glenwood City 30, Amery completed pass plays of 15, 14 and 8 yards, the final one was a touchdown toss from Lane Christensen to Austin Ziemann at the 5:56 mark of the first quarter. Beau Helin’s extra point boot had the home-standing Warriors on top, 7-0.

Amery’s other four plays on that drive were rushes that resulted in a net loss of six yards.

“I didn’t make a great call on that play,” said Coach Strong. “We saw some things on film we thought we could take advantage of and it didn’t work out. I was willing to take some chances against this team because we were outmatched on paper and I wanted our kids to know we were going to be aggressive not only as players, but in our play calling.”

Glenwood City would even the score on its ensuing possession.

After starting the drive at their own 40 with an incompletion, the Hilltoppers ran four straight times with positive results. Jake O’Meara carried three times for 13 yards with Nate Mrdutt busting off a 12 yarder. On first down at the Amery 35, senior quarterback Nick Schone tossed a strike to sophomore Carson Strong who had been left wide open along the left sideline for a touchdown. Nick Schone tacked on the kick to knot the game at seven with 3:56 left in the first quarter.

The stalemate continued through the remainder of the first and early part of the second quarters as the squads exchanged punts.

The Toppers were able to eventually pin the Warriors deep inside its own territory and ended up with great field position after Mitch Waalen’s punt got caught up in the wind and made it just 11 yards.

Glenwood City took over at the Amery 22 and used six running plays to move the ball to pay dirt. O’Meara’s four-yard run gave the Toppers the lead for good with 5:09 left in the first half. Schone’s kick gave the locals a 14-7 lead.

On the scoring drive, Mrdutt had three hauls for seven yards and Jake Nelson had an 11-yard jaunt that set up the first and goal situation at the Warriors six.

Amery added a 26-yard Beau Helin field goal inside the final minute of the first half. The score was set up by a pair of pass plays from Lane Christensen to Peter Elwood. The duo connected for a gain of 63 yards to the Hilltoppers’ 17 and then came right back to collaborate on a 13 yard catch that resulted in a  Warriors first and goal at the four. But an incomplete pass on first down, a fumbled snap for a short loss  followed by a motion penalty and another incomplete forced the Warriors to kick the field goal on a fourth and 11 with less than 40 seconds remaining in the half.

With half a minute left, the Toppers were able to move the ball to the Warrior ten as time expired. O’Meara had an 18-yard run and caught a 41-yard pass from Schone as the first half clock hit triple zeroes.

The Toppers got an early scoring opportunity to start the second half.

After holding the Warriors on the first possession of the third quarter, Glenwood City prepared to receive the punt. But Helin’s attempt ended up as  a low-line drive that struck the back of his linemen and deflected backwards where the Warriors fell on it at their 22.

It took the Toppers just two plays to cover the distance for their third touchdown. Jake Nelson scampered for five yards on first down and then Mrdutt bulled straight down the middle on a 17-yard scoring run at the 9:24 mark. Although Schone’s extra point kick was blocked, Glenwood City held a 20-10 advantage.

Amery picked up a couple of first downs on its next drive but eventually had to punt.

Starting at its own 31, Glenwood City’s ground attack proved effective in advancing the ball. O’Meara and Mrdutt were called upon to shoulder much of the work load although Jake Nelson caught a 12-yard pass for a first down. One the drive, O’Meara carried nine times for 34 yards and Mrdutt added 11 yards on four hauls. But the drive stalled deep in the Warriors territory. Faced with a fourth and four at the 13 yard line Schone connected with Carson Strong for the pair’s second touchdown of the game. The scoring pass along with Schone’s kick gave the Toppers a 27-10 advantage at 8: 29 of the final quarter.

“Amery was very aggressive against our run,” said Strong. “They wanted to blitz every play and that opened them up to play-action. We were able to pick up the blitz and Nick made a couple great throws to get us two touchdowns. I’ve always believed you need to take what the defense is willing to give. We felt it was open, so we called it and the kids executed.”

The Hilltoppers added another touchdown late in the fourth.

Following a failed fourth-down attempt from the shadow of its own goal line, Amery turned the ball over on downs to the Toppers at the six yard line. It took the Toppers all four downs but Jake Nelson ran in Glenwood City’s final score from the six with just 1:25 remaining. Schone took a knee on the conversion try and Glenwood City was celebrating its 33-10 win.

The Toppers out gained the Warriors 274 yards to 188. A majority of the Warriors yards 169 came via the air.

Glenwood City had 174 yards rushing which was complimented with 100 yards of passing and two scores. Nick Schone finished 4 of 8 for all 100 yards with Carson Strong catching two for 47 yards and two scores while O’Meara and Nelson had one each for 41 and 123 yards respectively. On the ground, O’Meara led the Toppers with 74 yards and a score on 21 attempts, Mrdutt finished with a touchdown and 58 yards while Nelson had ten carries for 44 yards and six points.

Beau Helin had 37 yards rushing for Amery and finished as the team’s only runner with positive yardage. The rest tallied losses that netted the Warriors just 19 total yards on the ground. Amery quarterback Lane Christensen finished 11 of 24 for 161 yards and touchdown.

“The boys are playing with great heart right now and really coming together as a team,” added Strong. “If we stay healthy we will be competitive all season. Injuries could really change our success because of a lack of depth in our upper two grades. I think I’m most proud of the boys for their focus on what they can control and not on our depth. They have decided to respect our tradition and play to the best of their ability. Whatever the outcome, we are going to bring it every week.”

Glenwood City returns home this Friday evening, September 4 to host Elk Mound in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference opener for both teams.