CROSBY -- On a night Crosby-Ironton celebrated a living legend, a few of its student body made legendary plays.
C-I renamed its Ranger Gym the Dave Galovich Gym in honor of its head boys basketball coach Friday, Sept. 20.
Following the ceremony, a few of the Rangers paid tribute with legendary performances that resulted in a 36-22 Northeast Blue Subdistrict victory over the Pine City Dragons to improve to 4-0.
More rewarding was the fact it was homecoming and C-I put on a show for its new athletic hall of fame inductees Mark Hoge, Julie Swenson, Rich Aulie and the 1996 Class 1A State boys golf championship team.
“For the pregame talk, I was speechless,” Ranger head coach Bryan Syrstad said. “Coach (Neil) Tesdahl did all the talking and his message was, ‘Don’t be afraid to be a legend.’ I can’t say enough about what Galovich has done for this community. I’ve had the privilege of being here and being around him and it’s awesome to learn the ins and outs about sports and life from him. He’s got a lot of knowledge. He’s been a great mentor.
“And the guys did make legendary plays tonight. Guys stepped up. We got stops on defense when I didn’t think anybody was going to stop anybody tonight. It was just a great team win. That’s what we’ve been preaching. The line on both sides stepped up at crucial moments. I can’t say enough about those guys.”
With the score knotted 15-15 at halftime, C-I came out of the half with a big defensive stop that resulted in a Pine City punt. The Rangers took their opening drive of the second half 55 yards and capped it with a 9-yard TD pass to Cam Durant from Dakota Mitchell for a 22-15 edge.
“All we wanted to do was win the second half,” Mitchell said. “I think the offensive and defensive lines played great the whole game.”
The Mitchell-to-Durant connection worked three times Friday and all three times resulted in a score. The third came after Pine City tied the game with an 11-play, 66-yard scoring drive. That was the third sustained drive the Dragons manufactured against the Rangers, but it was also the last.
C-I answered when Mitchell hit Durant on a 30-yard over-the-shoulder catch for a 29-22 cushion.
On fourth and two with 2:30 remaining in the game, the Rangers went for it. Instead of a running play, Mitchell stepped back and hit Gabe Kramer with a 24-yard strike and the game’s final score.
“We were hoping to just get a first down, to be honest,” Mitchell said. “Their linebackers were bringing the house. They were bringing everyone and I saw Gabe was going to have one-on-one with the safety and when he beat him by a couple of steps all I had to do was just throw it to him.”
Durant secured the win with an interception on Pine City’s next play. Durant also recovered a muffed punt in the first quarter that turned into a 39-yard Sam Smith field goal and a 9-7 Ranger lead.
The game opened with Mitchell hitting Dietrich Winegarner for a 75-yard score on the game’s third play.
“Dietrich beat his guy by a couple of steps so all I had to do was lob it up to him,” Mitchell said. “I mean, he’s 6-foot-4 so it’s not that hard.”
Winegarner finished with three catches for 84 yards. Durant hauled in three TD passes that covered 56 yards and Kramer caught four passes for 65 yards. Mitchell finished 13-20 passing for 222 yards.
“We knew they were going to play cover two defense so we figured the running game was going to be there,” Mitchell said. “All we had to do was execute the passing plays and we would have a good game”
Junior fullback Kale Dugan used his legs to eat up time and yardage as he rumbled for 126 yards on 19 carries. C-I outgained Pine City 422 yards to 246 and didn’t suffer a turnover.
“It’s amazing what these guys are doing,” Syrstad said. “It’s one day at a time of course. It’s high school sports and you never know what’s going to happen so we’re just taking it day by day and the goal is 1-0 each week.”