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By Joel DeWitt
STANLEY – Coming into the game on October 16th, Elk Mound had already faced some of the top contenders in the Cloverbelt. With losses to Mondovi and conference frontrunner Regis, things would not get any easier as the Mounders traveled to face a one-loss Stanley-Boyd squad.
The Orioles came into the game featuring a balanced offensive attack with weapons at both running back and receiver, however, their passing game is where they hurt Elk Mound on this night. Stanley-Boyd quarterback Carsen Hause threw for three touchdown passes, including two of which were over 55 yards, to lead his team to a 23-7 victory.
Hause’s main target on the night would be running back Cooper Nichols who would have six receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns, including one for 93 yards late in the second quarter.
The Mounders would counter offensively with their own talented athletes, with running back Avery Kaanta leading the way. The versatile junior would lead the team in both rushing and receiving. He would carry the ball 19 times for 79 yards and add 63 yards on five receptions.
However, it would be the Orioles big strike ability that would be the difference maker in the game.
After stopping an Elk Mound drive on fourth down at their own 29-yard line, Stanley-Boyd would go to the air as Hause found an open Mike Karlen for a 58-yard touchdown to give Stanley-Boyd a 6-0 lead.
On their next possession, Elk Mound would use a combination of passes and runs to move the ball down the field and would have first and goal at the Orioles 1-yard line. After being stuffed on three running attempts, quarterback Ryan Bohl (16-33 for 166 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) would find an open Carson Steinhorst in the endzone for the touchdown. The ensuing PAT would give Elk Mound a 7-6 lead.
Not to be outdone by its offense, the Mounder defense would make a statement on the next drive. Kaanta would make a huge hit on the Oriole ball carrier and would cause a fumble that would be recovered by the Mounders with excellent field position near midfield.
The Mounders would push the ball down field, but an interception by Stanley-Boyd defender, Tate Anderson, would halt the drive at the 2-yard line. It wouldn’t take the Orioles long to capitalize on that turnover. Hause found Nichols on a long crossing route, who took it 93-yards for the touchdown and gave the Orioles the lead at 13-6, which was the score at halftime.
The defensives would stiffen a bit in the second half. After a series of punts by both teams, Stanley-Boyd would take possession at their 45-yard line. They would march 55 yards down the field and make the score 20-7 with 3:55 remaining in the third when Hause once again connected with Nichols for a nine-yard touchdown.
After an early fourth quarter field goal by Stanley-Boyd to make the score 23-7, the Mounders would have a couple of more attempts to mount a comeback. Both times Elk Mound would come up short and turn the ball over on downs. Stanley-Boyd would hold on for the win to improve to 3-1 on the season. The loss leaves Elk Mound at 1-3 with three games remaining.
“Welcome to the Cloverbelt. The Cloverbelt’s a different breed of football and you need to be ready to play every week,” Elk Mound coach Dave Lew commented after another loss to a tough Cloverbelt opponent. “There’s a different intensity, you can see the intensity.”
While the Mounders had a few mistakes in the first half that led to some big plays by Stanley-Boyd, coach Lew thought halftime helped them out.
“We made a couple changes at halftime, and I thought we had a good game plan, but they executed a bit better than us,” stated Lew.
The Mounders will continue to look for improvement as they host a 1-3 Neillsville/Granton team this Friday, October 23rd at 7:00 p.m.