Irish win big over Hawks

by Dave Schroeder
In semi-final 4AA football on a gorgeous late October Saturday afternoon, the Maple Lake Irish did a number on the St. Paul Humboldt Hawks, pulverizing them 50-14, to move on to the Section 4AA championship game Nov. 5 at St. Cloud State University at 7:45 p.m. The Irish will play old nemesis, the Mayer-Lutheran Crusaders, for the right to play in the MSHSL football championship series.
The Irish kicked off to the Hawks to open the game and the defense immediately forced a quick three-and-out. 
The Irish “O” was set up in great field position on the Hawks’ 32-yard line after a very poor punt. On the first play from scrimmage the Irish were flagged for illegal motion and penalized five yards. This would be one of the only ways the Hawks would slow down the Irish on this day. On the very next play Cam Knudsen hit Brian Redemske in stride for a 37-yard TD pass. Forrest Coughlin hit the XP and the Irish jumped to a 7-0 lead.
The Irish kicked off again and once again the defense stopped the Hawks cold and turned the ball back to the offense. 
This time the Irish put together a slow 11-play drive, all on the ground, but were held on a third-and-three on the Hawks’ five-yard line. The Irish opted to kick a field goal and Coughlin was true from 22 and moved the Irish lead to 10-0. 
The Irish again forced a three-and-out but the offense could not capitalize this time and punted for the only time in the game. Justin Bidwell booted it out of the end zone and the Hawks took over on the 20-yard line as time ran out in the first quarter with Maple Lake holding a 10-0 lead.
The second quarter went much like the first as the Irish defense stymied the Hawks’ offense and  gave the “O” great field position. 
On the first possession of the second quarter the Irish had to go only 41 yards and took seven plays to score. This was aided by two Hawks’ penalties that each resulted in first downs. Knudsen ran one in from 12 yards out, Coughlin again hit the XP and the Irish moved to a 17-0 lead. 
On Maple Lake’s next possession it took only five plays to move 42 yards, capped off with a 22-yard TD pass from Knudsen to Mitch Wurm. The XP attempt sailed wide left, but the Irish held a commanding 23-0 lead with just 3 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. 
The Hawks put together their only real drive of the game as the Irish defense let up a bit and let the Hawks hit a couple of long third-down passes, there was an Irish interference call and a lucky break. With no time on the clock, the Irish were flagged for interference in the end zone, resulting in one more untimed down for the Hawks. The Irish defense rushed hard, Matt Fuller hit the quarterback and the ball popped into the air. One of the Hawks’ players grabbed it and dove into the end zone to break the shut-out. The Hawks got the two-point conversion and the half-time score stood at 23-8 in favor of Maple Lake.
“We came out with some fire to open this game,” said Head Coach Knudsen. “The guys only had three days to prepare and they worked very hard to get ready. We cut down on mistakes and took advantage of great field position to put up some first-half points. It makes it easier to adjust when you have room to work. We followed the game plan throughout the first half.” 
The Irish received the second-half kickoff and went to work immediately as Jordan Goelz returned the kickoff 49 yards to the Hawks’ 31-yard line. Five plays later Jesse Puncochar scored from 15 yards out, Coughlin was good again and the Irish moved the score to 30-8. 
The Hawks took over deep in their own territory after a great cover by the kick-off team. The Hawks switched quarterbacks but their fortunes did not as the Irish forced the Hawks to turn the ball over on downs as they went into desperation mode being down by 22. 
The Irish “O” took over on the Hawks’ 30-yard line and scored in two plays. The big one, a 26-yard sweep to a TD by Goelz. The XP was good and the lead was extended to 37-8. 
The next Hawks’ possession was again cut short by the Irish defense. On a third-and-seven, Wurm intercepted a long pass and returned it 57 yards to the Hawks’ eight-yard line. Puncochar scored on the very next play and pushed the lead to 43-8 as the XP attempt sailed wide. 
The next Hawks’ possession lasted only three plays again as the defense forced a fumble and recovered. 
The Irish offense scored on two plays as Knudsen had an option keep for seven yards and pay dirt. The XP was good and the Irish hit 50 for the first time all year.
The Hawks, now on offense, got their first 1st down of the second half as the third quarter came to an end with the Irish leading 50-8. 
The fourth quarter started and the Irish defense went back to work, turning the ball back to the offense once again. 
The Irish back-ups now took over, and with the clock running because of the 35-point mercy rule, time came off the clock with the Irish holding the Hawks at bay. However, one hiccup popped in as a poor snap forced punter Donnie Mavencamp to scurry around to avoid being tackled and he got off a poor running kick. The Hawks got possession on Maple Lake’s 21-yard line with 3 1/2 minutes to go. The back-up defense put up a valiant effort to keep the Hawks in check, but after four tries from the one-yard line the Hawks scored. The XP run was stopped and the score now stood 50-14 in favor of Maple Lake. 
The Hawks tried an on-side kick, but the Irish recovered, knelt on the ball twice and the game was history. The Irish are again playing for the Section 4AA title.
“This had to be our best overall game of the year,” said Coach Knudsen. “You could tell from the warm-ups on, the boys really wanted this one. We played like we practiced this week, with intensity. We started hitting like we are capable today and that sounded nice. We have a big job ahead of us this week as we head into the section title game against Mayer-Lutheran. They know us, we know them and it should make for a a great match-up.”
Maple Lake will play Mayer-Lutheran Friday, Nov. 5, in the late game at SCSU, scheduled for a 7:45 p.m. start. The 6AAA championship game between Albany and New London-Spicer will precede the Irish-Crusader game at 5:45 p.m. One ticket gets you into both games. Maple Lake beat Mayer-Lutheran 7-0 in the season opener this year and both teams seemed to have jelled throughout the year. It should be a great game again.
1 2 3 4 F
Humboldt 0 8 0 6 14
Maple Lake 10 13 27 0 50
Offensive stats:
Rushing att yds. TD
Puncochar 10 64 2
Knudsen 8 41 2
Goelz 4 32 1
Couette 4 11
Redemske 4 12
Bidwell 3 9
Berndtsen 2 1
Fuller 1 -5
Mavencamp 1 3
Totals 37 178 5
Passing att c yds TD int.
Knudsen 6 4 69 2 0
Puncochar 1 0 0 0 0
Receiving c yds TD
Couette 1 5 0
Redemske 1 37 1
Wurm 1 22 1
Puncochar 1 5 0
Totals 4 69 2
Defensive stats: Rachel, 9 tackles, 2 sacks; Puncochar, 9 tackles; Bidwell, 6 tackles; Wurm, 4 tackles, 1 int.; Coughlin, 5 tackles; Couette, 5 tackles; Kotila, 2 tackles, 1 sack; Kelm, 2 tackles, 1 sack; Fuller, 2 tackles, 1 sack.
In semi-final 4AA football on a gorgeous late October Saturday afternoon, the Maple Lake Irish did a number on the St. Paul Humboldt Hawks, pulverizing them 50-14, to move on to the Section 4AA championship game Nov. 5 at St. Cloud State University at 7:45 p.m. The Irish will play old nemesis, the Mayer-Lutheran Crusaders, for the right to play in the MSHSL football championship series.
The Irish kicked off to the Hawks to open the game and the defense immediately forced a quick three-and-out. 
The Irish “O” was set up in great field position on the Hawks’ 32-yard line after a very poor punt. On the first play from scrimmage the Irish were flagged for illegal motion and penalized five yards. This would be one of the only ways the Hawks would slow down the Irish on this day. On the very next play Cam Knudsen hit Brian Redemske in stride for a 37-yard TD pass. Forrest Coughlin hit the XP and the Irish jumped to a 7-0 lead.
The Irish kicked off again and once again the defense stopped the Hawks cold and turned the ball back to the offense. 
This time the Irish put together a slow 11-play drive, all on the ground, but were held on a third-and-three on the Hawks’ five-yard line. The Irish opted to kick a field goal and Coughlin was true from 22 and moved the Irish lead to 10-0. 
The Irish again forced a three-and-out but the offense could not capitalize this time and punted for the only time in the game. Justin Bidwell booted it out of the end zone and the Hawks took over on the 20-yard line as time ran out in the first quarter with Maple Lake holding a 10-0 lead.
The second quarter went much like the first as the Irish defense stymied the Hawks’ offense and  gave the “O” great field position. 
On the first possession of the second quarter the Irish had to go only 41 yards and took seven plays to score. This was aided by two Hawks’ penalties that each resulted in first downs. Knudsen ran one in from 12 yards out, Coughlin again hit the XP and the Irish moved to a 17-0 lead. 
On Maple Lake’s next possession it took only five plays to move 42 yards, capped off with a 22-yard TD pass from Knudsen to Mitch Wurm. The XP attempt sailed wide left, but the Irish held a commanding 23-0 lead with just 3 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. 
The Hawks put together their only real drive of the game as the Irish defense let up a bit and let the Hawks hit a couple of long third-down passes, there was an Irish interference call and a lucky break. With no time on the clock, the Irish were flagged for interference in the end zone, resulting in one more untimed down for the Hawks. The Irish defense rushed hard, Matt Fuller hit the quarterback and the ball popped into the air. One of the Hawks’ players grabbed it and dove into the end zone to break the shut-out. The Hawks got the two-point conversion and the half-time score stood at 23-8 in favor of Maple Lake.
“We came out with some fire to open this game,” said Head Coach Knudsen. “The guys only had three days to prepare and they worked very hard to get ready. We cut down on mistakes and took advantage of great field position to put up some first-half points. It makes it easier to adjust when you have room to work. We followed the game plan throughout the first half.” 
The Irish received the second-half kickoff and went to work immediately as Jordan Goelz returned the kickoff 49 yards to the Hawks’ 31-yard line. Five plays later Jesse Puncochar scored from 15 yards out, Coughlin was good again and the Irish moved the score to 30-8. 
The Hawks took over deep in their own territory after a great cover by the kick-off team. The Hawks switched quarterbacks but their fortunes did not as the Irish forced the Hawks to turn the ball over on downs as they went into desperation mode being down by 22. 
The Irish “O” took over on the Hawks’ 30-yard line and scored in two plays. The big one, a 26-yard sweep to a TD by Goelz. The XP was good and the lead was extended to 37-8. 
The next Hawks’ possession was again cut short by the Irish defense. On a third-and-seven, Wurm intercepted a long pass and returned it 57 yards to the Hawks’ eight-yard line. Puncochar scored on the very next play and pushed the lead to 43-8 as the XP attempt sailed wide. 
The next Hawks’ possession lasted only three plays again as the defense forced a fumble and recovered. 
The Irish offense scored on two plays as Knudsen had an option keep for seven yards and pay dirt. The XP was good and the Irish hit 50 for the first time all year.
The Hawks, now on offense, got their first 1st down of the second half as the third quarter came to an end with the Irish leading 50-8. 
The fourth quarter started and the Irish defense went back to work, turning the ball back to the offense once again. 
The Irish back-ups now took over, and with the clock running because of the 35-point mercy rule, time came off the clock with the Irish holding the Hawks at bay. However, one hiccup popped in as a poor snap forced punter Donnie Mavencamp to scurry around to avoid being tackled and he got off a poor running kick. The Hawks got possession on Maple Lake’s 21-yard line with 3 1/2 minutes to go. The back-up defense put up a valiant effort to keep the Hawks in check, but after four tries from the one-yard line the Hawks scored. The XP run was stopped and the score now stood 50-14 in favor of Maple Lake. 
The Hawks tried an on-side kick, but the Irish recovered, knelt on the ball twice and the game was history. The Irish are again playing for the Section 4AA title.
“This had to be our best overall game of the year,” said Coach Knudsen. “You could tell from the warm-ups on, the boys really wanted this one. We played like we practiced this week, with intensity. We started hitting like we are capable today and that sounded nice. We have a big job ahead of us this week as we head into the section title game against Mayer-Lutheran. They know us, we know them and it should make for a a great match-up.”
More information and stats appear in this week's Messenger.
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