Mahnomen blanks Pillager 35-0 in opener
PILLAGER — The Pillager Huskies got an unpleasant welcome to the North Star Conference.
Some might argue the Huskies drew the short stick in the conference cross over as they faced the Mahnomen Indians from the west side of the dual conference alignment Friday.
Last year, the Indians went 11-1 with the one loss coming in the Class 1A state quarterfinals against Barnesville. Graduation didn’t appear to hurt Mahnomen too much as they tagged the Huskies with a 35-0 season-opening loss.
“First of all let me say that they’re pretty good,” said Pillager head coach Lowell Scearcy. “They weren’t overwhelming big, but they were strong, tough kids. We weren’t able to run the ball on them. At least not until late when they put the second string in the game.”
Lucas Littlewolf and Jacob Pavek each intercepted passes and returned them for touchdowns and the Indians rushed the ball 38 times for 259 yards. Avery Fairbanks carried much of the load as he tallied 153 yard and a touchdown on 13 carries.
“They were running a little trap in there and we weren’t reacting very well to it,” said Scearcy. “Our linebackers were sitting back and catching blocks. You know how that goes — you get caught looking in the backfield and not looking at what the blockers are doing and bad things happen.
“I don’t want to take anything away from them. They played very well and they’re going to be hard to beat.”
Mahnomen’s first scoring strike came at 7:00 in the first. Mitch Kockmann capped off a five-play, 65-yard drive with a 13-yard sweep into the end zone.
Littlewolf picked off a Matt Doss pass and returned it 44 yards for a 14-0 Indian advantage.
Doss was 10-of-22-for 133 yards, but had another pass picked off by Pavek in the third quarter. Pavek returned this one 55 yards to create a 28-0 lead.
Fairbanks’ touchdown came in the second quarter and covered 37 yards. He almost scored again in the third quarter, but was stopped at the one. One play later Pavek slithered in for the game’s final score.
Pillager’s Travis Richards led the Huskies ground game with 51 yards on 14 carries. Devon Strack caught three passes for 67 yards. Two of Strack’s catches went for first downs, including his 44-yard reception late in the first half that set up first and 10 at the Mahnomen 15. A penalty and a fumbled snap stalled the drive.
“We were throwing the ball,” said Scearcy. “We thought maybe we could throw on them and we hit a couple.
“We just have to get back to work and work on being more physical. That was probably we need the most work on. We just need to be more physical in everything we do.”
Mahnomen 8 12 15 0 — 35
Pillager 0 0 0 0 — 0
Mon-Mitch Kochmann 13 run (Kochmann pass from Jacob Pavek) 7:00
Mon-Lucas Littlewolf 44 interception return (kick blocked) 9:03
Mon-Avery Fairbanks 37 run (run failed) 6:40
Mon-Pavek 55 interception return (Kochmann run) 8:31
Mon-Pavek 1 run (Pavek kick)
Rushes-yards: Pill 35-123, M 38-259
Pass comp-att-int-yards: Pill 10-22-2-133, M 1-7-0-13
Total offense: Pill 57-256, M 45-272
Rushing: Pill Travis Richards 14-51, Jeff Flickinger 7-24, Shane White 2-5, Devon Strack 6-3, Matt Doss 2-4, Dezmond Berndt 2-17, Nick Ruhl 2-31; M-Avery Fairbanks 13-153, Jacob Pavek 6-30, Austin Reitan 6-35, Garret Hoffner 6-27
Passing: Pill-Doss 10-22-133, M-Pavek 0-6-0, Garret Hoffner 1-1-13
Receiving: Pill-Devon Strack 3-67, Cole Hunstad 1-30, Devrin House 2-21, Richards 3-12, Adam Obermiller 1-9; M-Jason Schoenborn 1-13
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.