Chris Kappler said he’s going to believe in his offensive line.
And why wouldn’t the head coach of the Staples-Motley Cardinals after his o-line paved the way for 364 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns leading to a 54-18 victory over rival Wadena-Deer Creek Friday, Aug. 30.
The Cardinals Garrett Carlson led all rushers with 131 yards on 13 carries and scored the game’s first touchdown from nine yards out.
Sophomore Sivert Klefsaas added 113 yards and five touchdowns. His first was actually a 37-yard fumble recovery on a W-DC punt return to make it 14-0 in the first quarter.
Senior Cade Schmidt tallied S-M’s next touchdown to had the Cardinals a 20-0 first quarter lead.
“We have a lot of older kids on the field this year,” Keppler said. “A lot of kids who have many years of experience. We’re going to trust our run game this year. Our offensive line played fantastic tonight. They opened up a lot of holes for us.”
Schmidt added 65 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns to S-M’s totals. Evan quarterback Max Strickland rushed for 26 yards on just three carries.
Strickland also picked off two passes. Izaiah DeMars added an INT and Issac Kronenberg recovered a fumble for S-M.
“Our defense did what we wanted them to,” Keppler said. “We trusted our defense and that they would be ready for tonight. We came and they executed. I had no doubt that we could come out and play tonight. They swarm to the ball so well.”
S-M’s line did control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Cards held W-DC to just 104 yards rushing on 21 carries, but the Wolverines were big-play prone as they got on the board early in the second quarter with a 72-yard TD pass to Hunter Hawkins from second-year QB Payton Rondestvedt.
“We do have some guys who have been down to the state tournament in track and field and that helps when you can get them out on the edge and the perimeter,” W-DC first-year head coach Kyle Petermeier said. “When we could get the ball in their hands we did some good things. All three of our touchdowns were around 30 yards. We have some explosive players. We just need to get the ball in their hands.”
Schmidt’s second touchdown answered W-DC’s score, but the Wolverines came back with a 29-yard TD pass to Kade Woods.
Klefsaas’ second TD gave the Cardinals a 34-12 halftime edge.
S-M came out of the halftime break and put up three Klefsaas touchdowns to build a 54-12 edge and induce running time.
Josh Dykhoff finished off the scoring with an 83-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter.
Along with the five turnovers, W-DC was hampered by penalties.
“I just think with the penalties and stuff it was about technique,” Petermeier said. “We have to work on that stuff. We have to work on how we block and our steps. We do work on that stuff, but we really have to make sure we hone those skills. At a point in the game, we were kind of in it. We were going back-and-forth both ways, but then we fumble or we have a holding penalty or a chop block penalty. It just seemed to happen at the worst time.”