State Football: Pierz punches ticket to the Bank
Pierz's defense came to play Saturday. And so did its offense as the second-ranked and unbeaten Pioneers ran past the ninth-ranked Proctor Rails 42-13 in the Class 3A state quarterfinals at Brainerd High School. Pierz rushed for 296 yards against...
Pierz's defense came to play Saturday.
And so did its offense as the second-ranked and unbeaten Pioneers ran past the ninth-ranked Proctor Rails 42-13 in the Class 3A state quarterfinals at Brainerd High School.
Pierz rushed for 296 yards against a team that only allowed 811 rushing yards in its first 10 games.
Junior halfback Reese Kapsner ignited the Pioneers' attack as he gained 152 yards and scored the game's first three touchdowns.
"We knew Proctor had a really good line coming in and our line just was prepared," Kapsner said. "We were a little bit quicker. We said all week that we were quicker because they were a pretty big line, but our line did a great job of making holes.
"We just knew we were quick and we knew we were going to run like we always do. We knew they were going to run at us and it would be a battle and our line did a good job of winning the battle."
Pierz marched the game's opening drive 61 yards on eight plays with Kapsner's 3-yard run capping it off. The play before Jalen Jansen helped Pierz convert on fourth and 1.
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Pierz 42, Proctor 13
- The key: Pierz rushed for 296 yards and five touchdowns
- Overall: Prz 11-0, Proc 8-3
- Next: Pierz vs. Jordan in Class 3A state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis 2 p.m. Saturday.
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After forcing Proctor to punt away its opening possession, Pierz marched 75 yards on 10 plays with Kapsner scoring from 22 yards out. The drive was kept alive thanks to a 19-yard pass from Preston Rocheleau to Ben Herold on third and 9.
Rocheleau was an efficient 4-for-5 for 65 yards. Kapsner caught two of those passes for 38 yards.
"That was different," Kapsner said. "I think that was one of my first times getting a ball through the air all year. I was just trying to find some open space and Preston is a really good quarterback, too."
Pierz's third drive needed just one play as Kapsner scored from 25 yards out for a 20-0 lead.
Pierz fumbled away its next possession and Proctor capitalized with a 9-yard scoring strike from John Pioro to Cody Hampton for a 20-7 halftime score.
"The first quarter was great Pioneer football, but we took our foot off the gas pedal and we just kind of went through the motions," Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp said. "Then all of a sudden they take that drive and score. At least we held them to one score before the half. If they could have scored again that would have been a whole different ball game."
Halftime couldn't come soon enough as momentum shifted. But out of the break it was all Pierz, which continued to attack Proctor's bigger defensive line with quickness.
"Teams are slanting in on us," Pohlkamp said. "They put their big boys in there and they slam that off tackle and so we take it to the edge. Jalen and Reese just kept taking it to the outside and we adjusted.
"We pounded them with our fullback just enough to keep them honest."
Jansen capped off Pierz's first drive of the second half with a 6-yard score. Jansen needed just 2 yards to finish off Pierz's next drive.
The Pioneers' defense held the Rails to 5 yards and no first downs on three third-quarter drives.
Pierz mounted a 15-play drive that stalled at the Proctor 1, but after forcing a three-and-out, the Rails punt was blocked off the back of their own blocker and Cohlton Boser caught the deflection in the end zone for the Pioneers' final score.
Proctor did score a late touchdown when Pioro broke free for a 37-yard score, but Pierz's defense allowed just 206 yards for the game and only 54 in the second half.
Pierz advances to U.S. Bank Stadium for the second-straight year. It's the team's fourth-straight state semifinal appearance.
"We knew they had a lot of seniors and they're a good team and they weren't going to give up so we just had to keep pounding the ball and do what we did in the first half to win the game," Kapsner said. "And it worked."
Proctor 0 7 0 6-13
Pierz 14 6 14 7-42
Prz-Reese Kapsner 3 run (kick failed) 8:08
Prz-Kapsner 22 run (Jalen Jansen run) 1:23
Prz-Kapsner 25 run (kick failed) 11:11
Proc-Cody Hampton 9 pass from John Pioro (Ben Harnell kick) 4:37
Prz-Jansen 6 run (Kapsner run) 6:51
Prz-Jansen 2 run (Preston Rocheleau kick) 4:10
Prz-Cohlton Boser recovered blocked punt in end zone (Rocheleau kick) 6:29
Proc-Pioro 37 run (pass failed) 2:43
Rushes-yards: Prz 52-296, Proc 31=143
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Prz 4-5-0-65, Proc 6-14-0-73
Total offense: Prz 57-361, Proc 45-206
Rushing: Prz-Reese Kapsner 18-152, Jalen Jansen 15-96, Carson Huls 11-31, Luke Girtz 2-7, Preston Rocheleau 1-(-4), Alex Funk 1-4, Alex Poster 2-6, Ryan Stangl 1-6; Proc-John Pioro 19-104, Jerid Parrott 9-44, Cody Hampton 2-4, Team 1-(-9)
Passing: Prz-Rocheleau 4-5-65 ; Proc-Pioro 6-14-73
Receiving: Prz-kapsner 2-38, Terryl Scholl 1-8, Ben Herold 1-19; Proc-Hampton 3-49, Parrott 1-1, Blake Koski 1-18, Jordan Linder 1-5