SPRING VALLEY — It’s said that offense wins games but defense wins championships.
And if Elk Mound is able to successfully defend its conference football championship in 2018, the Mounders and their fans will not have to look any further than last Friday night’s key contest in Spring Valley for a reason why.
Twice in the second quarter of the September 28 showdown in the Valley, the Mounders’ defense thwarted Cardinal scoring opportunities including Colton Ward’s interception of Spring Valley quarterback Aaron Borgerding’s pass in the end zone.
“The deflection by our defense in the end zone that led to the pick was a huge momentum switch,” stated Elk Mound head coach Dave Lew.
That inception came as Spring Valley was on the door step of breaking a scoreless deadlock.
Instead, two series later, Elk Mound mounted the contest’s first scoring drive highlighted by pass receptions of 38 yards and 19 yards by the senior duo of Colton Ward to Rian Flynn, the later resulting in the 6-0 halftime lead.
Although Spring Valley scored to take a brief one-point lead in the third, the Mounders responded with two consecutive scores to claim a huge 21-7 victory over the Cardinals, who along with Mondovi had entered the contest unbeaten in Dunn-St. Croix play.
The victory not only keeps Elk Mound, now 4-1 and 5-2, in the conference title chase but secured them a spot in the upcoming WIAA football playoffs later this month.
“Our defense worked hard all week preparing for their offense and I felt we played a very aggressive team, 11 men to the ball defense,” added Lew.
“We talked about playing up to Spring Valley’s speed and staying on blocks.”
While the defense was shutting down the vaunted Valley offense, Elk Mound’s offensive unit put together a well orchestrated performance that coupled a sustain ground attack with efficient and timely aerial assaults that gained both yardage and points.
Senior slinger Colton Ward threw just seven passes for the Mounders but completed four of them for a pair of six pointers and 82 yards. Both passing scores were hauled in by Rian Flynn who tallied 85 yards on three catches.
Brady Redwine finished with a score and 119 of Elk Mound’s 144 rushing yards.
Conversely, much of Spring Valley’s 225 yard total came via the run with quarterback Aaron Borgerding and back Nate Fesenmaier scooting for 94 and 59 yards respectively for the Cardinals who finished with 182 rushing yards.
Neither offense was able to do much against the opposing defense in the first 12 minutes of play as both teams were forced to punt away both of their first-quarter possessions.
But the host Cardinals looked to change that on their third offensive attempt.
Taking over with just 50 seconds left in the opening quarter following a nice punt return to near mid-field, Spring Valley moved quickly into the Elk Mound red zone thanks to runs of 17 and 20 yards respectively by Fesenmaier and Borgerding. The later gave the Cardinals a first and goal at the Mounders ten.
Fesenmaier gain three on a first-down run but Borgerding netted just two in a pair of subsequent runs leaving Spring Valley with a fourth and goal at the five. Following a time out, Borgerdings tried to force a pass into the end zone. The throw was tipped and Colton Ward intercepted it in the end zone and brought it out to the Mounders’ six.
Elk Mound escaped danger but just briefly.
After three plays the Mounders had to kick. Jacob Mentzel’s punt traveled 38 yards but Spring Valley was back on the offensive at the Mounders’ 37.
Spring Valley moved to the Elk Mound 24 before an incompletion on fourth and ten gave the ball back to the Mounders with 2:46 remaining in the first half.
Ward and cohort Rian Flynn would then engineer a nine-play, 76-yard drive for the contest’s first points.
Ward and Flynn connected for a 38-yard pass play on second down. Then with just eight seconds left on the first-half clock, Flynn took another Ward throw and scored six from 19 yards out. Despite a missed kick, Elk Mound lead 6-0 at the half.
Spring Valley’s answer came to open the second half. The Cardinals marched 60 yards in six plays capped by a 44-yard Aaron Borgerding run at 9:14 of the third. Borgerding added the kick to give the host Cardinals a 7-6 advantage.
After exchanging punts over the next two offensive possessions, Elk Mound took charge at the Spring Valley 43 following a nine-yard punt.
The Mounders needed just four plays to take the lead for good. A 28-yard pitch-and-catch from Ward to Flynn had Elk Mound back on top. The pair reversed roles on the conversion try as Flynn tossed the pass to a wide open Ward who caught it for two to put the Mounders ahead 14-7 with 1:43 left in third.
Elk Mound would seal the win with a late fourth-quarter touchdown. Brady Redwine plowed into the end zone from 2 yards out at 4:19 to cap an 11-play, 58-yard drive. Mentzel kicked the PAT to make the final 21-7.
“The second half we began to wear down Spring Valley and put together a great last drive,” said Lew. “I felt our coaches and players did a great job preparing for the game and feel it was a total team win for everyone on our sidelines.”
Elk Mound will take a break from conference play to host Altoona in this Friday’s homecoming contest.
Elk Mound………….0 6 8 7 – 21
Spring Valley……….0 0 7 0 – 7
ELK MOUND: Passing – Colton Ward 4-7 for 82 yds., 2 TDs; Receiving – Rian Flynn 3 for 85 yds. Rushing -Brady Redwine 30 for 119 yds., TD; Colton Ward 6 for 22 yds. Interceptions – Colton Ward. Fumbles Recovered – None. Tackles – Not Reported. Punting – Jacob Mentzel 4 for 157 yds. (39.3 yds. average).