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Irish football team returning to section final game
For the fifth straight year, the Maple Lake Irish football team will be playing in the section final game. At 7 p.m. Thursday, the Irish will take on Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.
In order to get to that game, the Irish first had to get past Spectrum on Oct. 22 and Concordia Academy the following Saturday.
The Irish got off to a slow start against the Spectrum Sting, on their way to a 39-0 rout at home.
“In the first quarter, we had a lot of missed assignments,” coach Tim Knudsen said. “With the field being a slip-and-slide, we couldn’t get our footing, so it took us a while to get going.”
Fortunately for the home team, the defense did not let the visitors’ offense get going, even though they were given chances to do so.
“We put the defense in some bad field positions,” Knudsen said. “We dropped a snap on a punt and had an early fumble. Their backs were against the wall and they did a heck of a job getting us out of there.”
In the second quarter, the Irish scoring began.
Trevor Borell set the stage with a six-yard touchdown run and Charlie Stejskal added an extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Dusty Strub bumped it up to a 13-0 lead with an 11-yard run. Cal Redemske pounded in a one-yard touchdown and a successful extra-point kick put the halftime score at 20-0.
Scoring continued into the third quarter for the home team, with three more touchdowns on three runs by quarterback Landon Caughey. One successful extra-point kick put the final score at 39-0.
Redemske was the leading rusher with 115 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, followed closely by Caughey’s 95 yards on 15 carries, including his three touchdowns.
Borell touched the ball twice en route to 14 yards and his touchdown, while Strub’s touchdown came on his only carry of the game.
Nic Paumen was kept out of the end zone, but was able to put up 30 yards on seven touches. Cody Bakka added 13 yards on four touches and Austin Becker had five yards on two carries.
The Irish’s passing game was quiet, with Caughey throwing for 45 yards on 3-6 passing. Ryan Kalinowski caught two balls for 33 yards and Zach Johnson caught a 12-yard pass.
Nic Paumen (six tackles, three assists), Trevor Paumen and Damian Kaley (five tackles, three assists each), Redemske (four tackles, four assists) and Nick Gapinski (four tackles, three assists) led the defense.
Adding to those stats were Borell (four tackles), Strub and Dominic Kaley (three tackles, three assists each), Devin Lowers (three tackles, two assists), Lucas Fobbe (two tackles, three assists), Josh Gindele (one tackle, two assists) and Landon Caughey (one tackle).
Collectively, the team allowed just 48 receiving yards on 3-12 passing and 28 rushing yards on 43 attempts.
Saturday’s game challenged the Irish much more, as they eeked out a 27-21 win in Roseville.
Just as he did in the earlier game, Borell scored first, on a nine-yard run, and Stejskal’s point-after-touchdown kick put the score at 7-0.
Another touchdown, this time a three-yard run by Redemske, and a PAT gave the Irish a 14-0 lead.
Redemske found paydirt again, from one yard out, to put the Irish up 20-0 in the second quarter.
The hometown Beacons finally stopped the bleeding with a touchdown of their own to pull within 13 points.
Redemske pushed the lead back up to 20 points on a one-yard touchdown run before halftime.
Little did the Irish know that would be their last score. The Beacons, however, were far from done scoring.
“We held on for dear life,” Knudsen said. “The third quarter was not good at all. We fumbled on the first possession. They capitalized on that and scored to make it 27-14. Then, we had a three-and-out.”
Knudsen’s squad ran a total of five plays in the quarter, while the opponents scored again to make it a 27-21 game after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, defense on both squads dug in.
With 2:53 remaining, the Irish faced fourth down with three yards to go and decided to go for it.
Knudsen said difficulty with snaps led to the decision, which ultimately turned the ball over to the Beacons.
“The defense stepped up and didn’t let them score,” Knudsen said of the home team’s final possession. “They got a first down and that was it.”
Strub (114 yards on 12 carries) and Redemske (72 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries) led the Irish rushing attack.
Borell added 18 yards and his touchdown on four carries. Caughey (17 yards on 11 carries) and Nic Paumen (12 yards on three carries) also contributed.
Caughey passed for 52 yards with Kalinowski (42 yards on three grabs), Johnson (nine yards on one catch) and Blake Wellsted (one yard on one reception) catching the ball.
Several players contributed on defense: Gindele (four tackles, four assists), Strub (three tackles, three assists), Fobbe (two tackles, nine assists), Gapinski (two tackles, two assists), Trevor Paumen (one tackle, five assists), Lowers and Dominic Kaley (one tackle, four assists each), Nic Paumen (one tackle, three assists), Reller (one tackle, two assists) and Damian Kaley (five assists).
Knudsen said defense will be a key against HL-W-W.
“We need to practice well and be able to defend their wide-open offense,” he said. “It’s going to be a battle.”
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