Area Football: Rangers blanked in season finale

The Crosby-Ironton Rangers concluded their regular season with a 21-0 loss to the Esko Eskomos, but the postseason could bring success.

Crosby-Ironton's Ashton Hann leaps past an Esko defender Thursday, Nov. 12, at Brainerd High School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

And things continue to get weirder.

The Crosby-Ironton Rangers concluded their 2020 regular season with a 21-0 loss to the Esko Eskomos Thursday, Nov. 12, at Brainerd High School.

The loss drops C-I to 1-5 on the season, but the Rangers can do no worse than the No. 3 seed in the Section 7-2A playoffs and a first-round bye.

That’s because there are only three teams left in the section. Moose Lake-Willow River, Royalton and Eveleth-Gilbert all had their seasons cut short because of COVID-19.

That leaves Mesabi East, International Falls and C-I has the three remaining teams.


“It’s down to three and it’s tough,” C-I head football coach Bryan Syrstad said. “I feel for those other programs in our section that aren’t playing. I’d like to give a shout out to them and wish them the best. I hope everyone is healthy. It’s just a weird season. It’s hard to put into words.”

Weird might be the only way to describe the season and the year.

The Rangers used their final tune-up before sections to find some offense. C-I’s offense came in averaging just 7.7 points per game and suffered a 7-0 loss to Pine City two weeks ago.

They turned to quarterback Ashton Hann and the sophomore showed flashes of excitement, including a nifty run for a first down in the first quarter.

But Hann struggled in his second game action throwing three interceptions. He finished 10-of-24 for 88 yards.

“We were trying to find something on offense and we feel like Ashton’s getting there,” Syrstad said. “We just need to keep moving forward and finding something that works on offense. Getting guys healthy is another issue. We just need to get guys healthy and rolling into next week.”


The Rangers were without senior running back and leading rusher Kale Dugan who was on the sideline injured. Senior Gabe Kramer left the game in the first half with an injury as well.

Those losses hurt as C-I managed just seven first downs and 123 yards of total offense. The lack of offensive firepower allowed Esko to have prime field position.

Esko managed just 166 yards, but opened the scoring early in the second quarter with a 17-yard touchdown run from Ty Christensen. The Eskomos made it 14-0 at the half with a 1-yard plunge from Kevin Gregory. The play was set up by a blocked punt.

“We got put into some tough situations in that first half and got backed up, got a punt blocked and we never really seemed to cross the other side of the 50,” Syrstad said. “That’s tough on our defense. Guys on defense, we had some new guys out there. We had a freshman in Jordan Mount out there and I thought he did an excellent job of tackling in the open field. He got put in tough situations and made plays. We had other guys who have been doing that all season. We just have to find some consistency and get some other guys healthy and I think that will help us.”

Mount finished with six tackles. Cam Durant led the Rangers with 10.5 tackles. Connor Zender posted four tackles for loss and finished with 9.5. He added 1.5 sacks. Michael Fitzpatrick collected the other half of the sack.

Esko finished the scoring late in the third when Mason Perich scored on a reverse play from 5-yards out.


Esko 0 14 7 0 -- 21
Crosby-Ironton 0 0 0 0 -- 0

Second quarter
E-Ty Christensen 18 run (Wyatt Stankiewicz kick)
E-Kevin Gregory 1 run (Stankiewicz kick)

Third quarter
E-Mason Perich 5 run (Stankiewicz kick)

Team statistics
Rushes-yards: CI 20-17, E 50-157
Pass comp-att-int-yds: CI 11-25-3-106, E 6-8-0-9
Total offense: CI 45-123, E 58-166


Individual leaders
Rushing: CI-Carter DeCent 13-21, Gabe Kramer 4-8, Cam Durant 1-(-4), Ashton Hann (2-(-8); E-Nolan Witt 21-84, Ty Christensen 15-34, Cade Berger 8-24, Mason Perich 1-5, Makoi Perich 2-4, Kade Gronsorowski 1-4, Kevin Gregory 2-2
Passing: CI-Ashton Hann 10-24-88; Kramer 1-1-18; E-Carter Zezulka 2-2-14, Kevin Gregory 0-1, Christensen 4-5-(-5)
Receiving: CI-Dietrich Winegarner 2-53, Landon Erickson 3-35, Carter DeCent 2-7, Carter Holtzleicer 1-5, Gabe Kramer 1-5, Cam Durant 2-2; E-Gronsorowski 1-11, javontae Gregory 1-4, Cade Berger 4-(-6)

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Esko 21, Crosby-Ironton 0

Key: Esko held C-I to 123 yards of offense and forced four turnovers

Overall: CI 1-5, E 3-3.

Next: Crosby-Ironton in Section 7-2A semifinals Saturday, Nov. 21.


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