Improving to 6-1 this season after a win over Jordan on Oct. 12, the Mayer Lutheran football team is inching toward a piece of the Minnesota River Conference title.
Currently tied with Watertown-Mayer and Sibley East for the top of the conference, the Crusaders played at Watertown-Mayer on Oct. 17. The winner is assured at least a slice of the MRC crown. The No. 8 (3A) Royals are also 6-1 this season after defeating Tri-City United last week, knocking the Titans out of the conference title chase.
In Mayer Lutheran’s 34-22 victory against Jordan on Oct. 12, the Hubman got the jump on the Crusaders and scored first. The Crusaders responded with an 18-yard pass from senior quarterback Jeremiah Grimsley to senior receiver Tanner Luebke for a touchdown. Jordan scored once again in the first quarter on a 60-yard pass. Neither team scored in the second quarter and the Crusaders trailed 14-7 at the half.
“Jordan executed two very effective plays in the first quarter and took the lead,” said Mayer Lutheran head coach Dean Aurich. “At half time we were down 14-7 and very frustrated as a team.”
Mayer Lutheran turned things around in the third quarter and posted 24 points. First, junior Joel Burfeind ran the ball for a five-yard touchdown. Junior Chad Anenson nailed a 41-yard field goal to give the Crusaders a 17-14 lead. Burfeind scored twice more in the third quarter, the first a 40-yard run.
A 40-yard pass from Grimsley to Burfeind wrapped up the Crusader scoring in the third quarter, and Mayer Lutheran led 31-14 after three. Anenson hit a 25-yard field goal in the fourth to put the Crusaders up 34-14 before Jordan came back with a touchdown and a safety to bring the game within 12. Time ran out before the Hubman could catch up and Mayer Lutheran won 34-22.
The Crusaders totaled 366 offensive yards (203 rushing, 163 passing). Grimsley completed eight of 22 pass attempts for 163 yards. Burfeind had half of the team’s receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown. Also catching passes were Luebke (18 yards, one touchdown), senior Phil Burfeind (25 yards), junior Anthony Gruenhagen (23 yards), and sophomore Taylor Otterstatter (19 yards). Rushing leaders included Phil Burfeind (72 yards), Joel Burfeind (69), junior Nathan Weber (44), and Grimsley (18).
On defense, Grimsley snagged an interception and a sack on Jordan’s quarterback. Weber and junior Mason Diedrick each had a sack as well. Weber also recovered a fumble, as did Joel Burfeind. Tackle leaders included Weber (5), Grimsley (5), Joel Burfeind (2), and senior Neal Kroells (2).
“This team has fought through several trials and has put themselves in a great situation versus Watertown-Mayer this Wednesday,” Aurich said.
Section play begins next week, and the Crusaders will compete in Section 4AA.