Area Football: Pierz rush over Irish

PIERZ--It was back to basics for the Pierz Pioneers. And in Pioneer country, that means running the ball. Pierz, Class 3A's top-ranked team and defending state champions, rushed the ball 44 times for 338 yards and five touchdowns, leading to a 34...


PIERZ-It was back to basics for the Pierz Pioneers.

And in Pioneer country, that means running the ball.

Pierz, Class 3A's top-ranked team and defending state champions, rushed the ball 44 times for 338 yards and five touchdowns, leading to a 34-6 defeat of Class 2A's sixth-ranked and previously unbeaten Maple Lake Friday, Sept. 14.

It wasn't so easy last week in a close defeat of Holdingford and senior captain and starting offensive lineman Austin Dickmann made sure his linemates didn't have a repeat performance.


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Pierz 34, Maple Lake 6

  • The key: Pierz rushed for 338 yards and all five of its scores
  • Subdistrict: Prz 2-0, ML 1-1
  • Overall: Prz 3-0, ML 2-1
  • Next: Pierz hosts Melrose 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21

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"The week of practice was just a lot better than the previous week," Dickmann said. "The captains we really got on guys and told them that the only way we can get better is if we push ourselves and push other guys-from the scout team to the guys that are playing. I thought it was a lot better this week. People were coming off the ball and we were in better shape. We knew what we were doing. We knew where we were going and that allowed us to play faster."

Dickmann enjoyed watching fellow captain Reese Kapsner take Pierz's second play from scrimmage 84 yards for the game's opening touchdown. Kapsner tallied again later in the first quarter from 15 yards out to make it 13-0 Pierz after one quarter.

Kapsner finished with 195 yards on just 11 carries.

"That happened against Holdingford," Dickmann said. "We took the first play of the game and scored from 50 yards. The difference was we kept the foot on the gas pedal and we did a better job of that this week. Nobody relaxed. We kept the pedal to the metal and ran it right down their throats."

Maple Lake answered thanks to a 12-play, 64-yard drive that was capped off by Zach Cargill's 1-yard plunge. The Irish looked to gain even more momentum late in the second quarter when it recovered a fumble on their own 34.


Two plays later, however, Pierz's Zachary Traut recovered a Maple Lake fumble and three players later Alex Gross scampered in from 5 yards to make the halftime score 21-6.

"If they took our fumble and take it down to score it could have been a much different game," Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp said. "We did not want to give them any spark. They are not a bad team. Their quarterback runs that option pretty quick and he's got some good shiftiness to him. Nowadays you don't really see a whole lot of option football. It's also hard to simulate that in practice, too."

Pierz's defense stiffened in the second half as it allowed just 57 yards on only 17 plays. The Irish gained 126 yards on 35 plays in the first half to finish with just 183 yards of offense.

Meanwhile, Pierz did what Pierz does-rushed the ball. After its opening drive of the second half stalled, Blake Kowalczyk capped off the Pioneers' second drive with a 24-yard touchdown burst. Kowalczyk picked up his second TD of the game early in the fourth quarter from a yard out for the final score.

"It's a big part to be on the same page," Dickmann said. "We were talking a lot and we had a new guard step in and saw a lot of growth from him from the first couple of weeks to this game. I thought he played really well. Our junior tackle, Aaron Hayes, played really well offensively and defensively. Our senior center, Caleb Swenson, this is his first year of varsity and he had a heck of a game, too. It's nice to see guys taking steps.

"Our goal at the end of the year is to be the best team and the last one standing."

The victory pushes Pierz to 3-0 on the year. Including this season, the Pierz Pioneers own a 26-1 regular-season record over the last four seasons. The one blemish came Sept. 9, 2016, with Maple Lake's 20-6 victory at Pierz.

After the first half, there was no threat of a repeat of that.


"It was nice to get Luke Girtz back," Pohlkamp said. "He's a three-year starter and we played him today on defense and we'll get to use him on offense next week. We didn't want to rush him back.

"I'm just happy we were able to get back to the running game. Give credit to Holdingford they slowed us down and we had to pass against them. Today, we threw it twice. They never really stopped our run and that's what we want to do."


Maple Lake 0 6 0 0-6

Pierz 13 8 7 6-34


First quarter

Prz-Reese Kapsner 84 run (Preston Veith kick) 5:42

Prz-Kapsner 15 run (kick failed) 19.9


Second quarter

ML-Zach Cargill 4 run (kick failed) 4:04

Prz-Alex Cross (Matthias Algarin pass from Peter Schommer) 1:18


Third quarter

Prz-Blake Kowalczyk 24 run (Veith kick) 4:27


Fourth quarter

Prz-Kowalczyk 1 run (kick failed) 8:53


Team statistics

Rushes-yards: Prz 44-338, ML 40-143

Pass comp-att-int-yds: Prz 1-2-0-4, ML 4-9-0-40

Total offense: Prz 46-342, ML 49-183


Individual leaders

Rushing: Prz-Reese Kapsner 11-195, Blake Kowalczyk 10-86, Matthias Algarin 6-12, Alex Gross 8-38, Isaac Otte 1-2, Peter Schommer 1-(-5), Ross Boer 1-1, Carter Moulzolf 1-7, Michael Leidenfrost 1-2, Noah Cekalla 1-0, Team 1-0; ML-Zach Cargill 17-44, Ben Clapp 17-73, Brock Goetz 4-28, Anthony DeMars 1-4, Team 1-(-4)

Passing: Prz-Derek Schommer 1-2-4; ML-Clapp 4-9-40

Receiving: Prz-Gross 1-4; ML-Goetz 4-40

Related Topics: PIERZ PIONEERS
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