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by Joel DeWitt
SPRING VALLEY — The match up between Boyceville and Spring Valley was two years in the making.
After COVID concerns canceled the 2020 game that featured the top two teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and could have resulted in the Bulldogs’ sharing the conference crown, this year’s version featured what many believe are the top contenders for the 2021 title.
Boyceville was riding high coming into the game, starting the year 3-0 and outscoring their opponents by a whopping 133 to 38.
Spring Valley, however, is the reigning champ and brings back plenty of experience to repeat.
It would be experience that would prevail on September 10th, as the Cardinals combined for a total of 380 yard on their way to a 35-6 win and the lead in conference standings.
“We knew this was going to be our first test of the season, I am just disappointed this was the effort we gave,” Boyceville coach Michael Roemhild said. “You won’t beat a top caliber team ever when you have 16 penalties.”
The penalties seemed to come at crucial times in the game and cost the Bulldogs a total of 95 yards and lost opportunities.
Boyceville received the opening kickoff in great position on their own 45-yard line. However, three false starts on the offense would stall their first possession and force a punt.
Spring Valley would take control on their own 20-yard line and use a combination of runs up the middle and off the edge to move the ball. Facing third and 20, Cardinal quarterback Connor Ducklow would find an open Justin Rielly on the right side who would take it 47 yards for the touchdown. The PAT would make the score 7-0.
During the next Bulldog possession, running back Bash Nielson would find some success. Consecutive runs for nine and 54 yards would put Boyceville on the Cardinal 12-yard line. Once again, the penalty bug would bite Boyceville, as back-to-back illegal formation penalties would force the Bulldogs back. On fourth and 18, Dogs’ quarterback Ira Bialzik would find Jacob Granley for a completion, however he would be stopped four yards short of the first down resulting in a turnover on downs.
The Cardinals would use the momentum from that defensive stop and push the ball 94 yards on seven plays for the touchdown. The drive was highlighted by a 56-yard pass-catch from Ducklow to Tyler Bowman. It was capped when Ducklow would call his own number and score from three yards out to put Spring Valley up 14-0.
The Bulldogs would continue to struggle on both sides of the ball for the remainder of the half. In between two short possessions by Boyceville, the Cardinals would use another big play to score. Ducklow would once again find Rielly, this time on a 56-yard touchdown completion to extend their lead to 21-0 at halftime.
The second half started much like the first ended, with Spring Valley making a statement on offense.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Cardinals would only need three plays to score. Rielly would plunge into the end zone from three yards out to extend the lead to 28-0. The short run was set up by another big pass from Ducklow to Rielly, this time for 51 yards.
Facing a 28-point deficit, the Bulldogs would start to show some grit. The kickoff would see Boyceville start on their own 40-yard line. The combination of tough running by Nielson, and a long completion from Bialzik to Granley for 39 yards would find the Bulldogs with first and goal on the 7-yard line. Nielson would take the first down carry and push it across for the score. The PAT rushing attempt by Bialzik would be short and leave the score 28-6 with 6:49 remaining in the third quarter.
After a short kickoff, the next Spring Valley possession would see the Bulldogs hold them on four consecutive rushing attempts to take over on downs at their own 28-yard line.
The Bulldogs would push the ball down the field using a couple of big plays, a 27-yard rush by Nielson and an 18-yard reception by Nick Olson. A couple of plays later the Bulldogs would be facing a third and two from the Cardinal 3-yard line.
The next two rushing attempts by Tyler Dormanen and Bialzik would see the Bulldogs stuffed and they turned the ball over on downs to Spring valley on the 3-yard line.
The Cardinals would control the tempo the remainder of the game and add another touchdown to cruise to the 35-6 win.
“There is not much to say about this game. We just didn’t show up and Spring Valley did,” Roemhild commented. “They were faster, stronger, executed their offense, and played tough defense.”
Nielson lead the way offensively for the Bulldogs, carrying the ball 15 times for 124 yards. Bialzik completed six of nine attempts for 101 yards, with Granley accounting for 79 of those on two receptions.
“We haven’t experienced a loss since week 2 of last year, so of course this stings,” Roemhild mentioned following the loss. “We have a lot of work to do this week if we want to bounce back against Colfax. This will be our true test.”
Boyceville will return home this Friday, September 17th and look to recover against a Colfax team that has had to forfeit its last two game due to COVID.