Pirates headed for Fargodome

Mike Mahlen's Verndale Pirates used an unstoppable power football attack to trounce Underwood 48-0 last Saturday in the Section 4, Class Nine-man semifinals.

Matt Moenkedick
Photo by Steve Schulz Verndale's Matt Moenkedick (12) follows his blocking in last Saturday's Section 4, Class Nine-man title game with Underwood on the Verndale football field.

Mike Mahlen's Verndale Pirates used an unstoppable power football attack to trounce Underwood 48-0 last Saturday in the Section 4, Class Nine-man semifinals.

The victory put the top-ranked and undefeated Pirates in the Section 4 championship game against No. 3 Eagle Valley, a 28-8 winner over No. 2 Hillcrest. Verndale and Eagle Valley will clash in a 12:30 p.m. game Friday at the Fargodome with the winner advancing to the Class Nine-man state quarterfinals at Spring Lake Park High School Nov. 7 against the Section 1 champ. State-ranked Houston is going up against Lanesboro in the Section 1 championship game.

Verndale was a 46-22 winner over Eagle Valley during the regular season but John Sieling has a veteran Eagle Valley team led by 11 seniors and 18 juniors and has not had a team in section finals since 2000.

"I think it will be a good football game," Mahlen said. "Eagle Valley has already played us well. Hopefully we can move the ball against them as well as we did the first time."

The Pirates racked up all 463 yards on the ground against Eagle Valley in their Oct. 3 game. Eagle Valley rushed the ball for 227 yards and passed for 94 for a total of 321 yards and 14 first downs .


The Rebels are counting on being able to move the ball against Verndale on the powerful legs of 140-pounder Julius Stone. The Eagle Valley back logged 272 yards on 30 carries against Hillcrest and has more than 1,200 yards this season. They will also be counting on a defense that has given up only 14 points in the last two playoff games after allowing an average of 26.7 in seven regular season games.

"It's a tough match-up for us," said Sieling as he prepared his team for their second meeting with Verndale. "They have good size up front."

Sieling indicated his 7-3 Rebels are "going up there with the idea of winning" but having met the Pirates once already he knows what a machine Mahlen has at Verndale.

"They get into a rhythm and you can't stop them," Sieling said. "You can't make any mistakes."

With Matt Moenkedick logging 218 yards on 26 carries and Amos Schmidt adding 115 on 10 carries, the Pirates racked up 390 rushing yards against Underwood on the blustery October night tailor-made for a running team. The Pirates scored in all four quarters against an Underwood team that gave them big trouble in a 32-24 regular season meeting.

"We were just hoping the kids wouldn't worry about the first game and would be focusing on this game," Mahlen said.

Missing the services of injured running back Todd Skauge, the Rockets had to rely on their aerial game against the Pirates. Quarterback Dylan Meyer had a good night passing the ball as he completed 50 percent of his passes (13-for-26) for 145 yards. Verndale's defense held the Rockets to 47 yards on 26 rushing attempts.

Moenkedick hit paydirt on runs of 19 and 71 yards for Verndale in the first quarter. Schmidt came up with six and 44 yard touchdown runs in the second quarter for a 28-0 halftime lead.


Zach Meidiger got into the act in the third quarter with a three-run touchdown run. Schmidt scored his third touchdown of the game from six yards out later in the third quarter.

Nathan Weise capped the scoring in the fourth quarter when he went over from the one.

Moenkedick was Verndale's top tackler with 11 stops. Brady Siedschlaw came up with seven tackles while Shylo Moyer and Clay Cottrell recorded five. Cottrell, Kyle Powers and Dan Kneisl all recovered fumbles.

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