by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Already ahead 20-7, Mayer Lutheran rapidly responded to Central’s lone score of the game just before halftime and finished off the game for a 37-7 win at Ed Braun Field in Norwood Young America.
The 2-minute offense worked to perfection for the Crusaders as quarterback Cole Buttenhoff led the team down the field, completing 4-of-5 passes for 68 yards in just 53 seconds.
Starting from their own 32-yard line, Buttenhoff found Anthony Gruenhagen for completions of seven and 25 yards, hit Matt Huinker for a 21-yard completion and then capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Gruenhagen from 15 yards out.
Mayer Lutheran head coach Dean Aurich said practice for the 2-minute drill paid off as his team’s passing game continues to develop with their solid running game.
“We’d like to balance it now with our passing attack and that was a little off early,” he said. “We’d like to throw a little more, but we’re still kind of maturing into it and not real steady with it… 90 percent of the time we’re doing things right, but that 10 percent factor is still catching up to us.”
The drive was a deviation from much of the Crusaders’ offense the rest of the game as they pounded the ball, gaining 267 yards on 42 carries.
Joel Burfeind took on much of the load, rushing for two scores, a two-yard run in the second quarter and a 21-yarder in the fourth quarter.
“He’s not real fast, but he’s really shifty and he sees the field really well,” said Aurich. “He turns plays in to big plays and he’s been good all year.”
Nathan Weber also rushed for a five-yard score in the second quarter.
For Central, giving up yardage on the ground was a familiar area of concern for head coach Paul Henn.
“We’re a young team,” he said. “We got some young kids playing out there and sometimes young kids are physically out-matched when you’re playing older, more physically mature kids. That’s how high school football is. It happens. Whenever you have those big core, older groups… sometimes you have some matchup issues. Mayer found those matchup issues and played a good football game.”
Aurich, pleased with his team’s performance, said they were able to bounce back from a tough 28-7 loss to Tri-City United the week prior.
“Last week, we had a big game with TCU and we had some turnovers and we had some penalties,” he said. “That was our goal – just to improve. We felt we were a little stressed last week. Even heading into the game we felt the heaviness. I said put the stress on the team we’re playing and not on ourselves.”
Turnovers were a decisive factor in this game as well as Mayer Lutheran committed just one turnover to Central’s four.
Casey Clemensen had a big game for the Raiders, catching five passes from Isaac Hormann for 55 yards and a touchdown and also getting some big yardage on kickoff returns, including an electrifying 43-yarder.
“Some plays just opened up in the flats and stuff,” said Clemensen, quick to credit Hormann for finding him. “He threw the ball well.”
Noah Peterson added 90 yards on 22 carries.
Both teams will host homecoming games this week as Central (0-4) faces Watertown (3-1), who beat Sibley East 19-18, and LHS (3-1) faces Belle Plaine (4-0), who defeated Jordan, 12-6.
“We’ll do the best we can,” said Aurich of the homecoming contest. “That can be a distraction or it can be a pump up so we’ll see.”
For Central, facing the Royals gives them a chance to repeat their postseason success last year, when they upset Watertown, 13-8.
“It’s going to be a great game,” said Henn. “Watertown remembers what happened in the playoffs last year so we’re going to expect their very, very best football game and we’re going to have to prepare and be ready to go.”
“We got to come out and do what we did last year against them,” said Clemensen. “I think we’ll get that one.”
The game also gives Central a chance to start the second half of the season on a good note as they continue to get better.
“There are things we got to improve on but we got to focus now on this second season, these next four games,” said Henn. “We’re going to move forward. We’ve played some tough teams. We’re going to continue to play tough teams. We can regroup a little bit and start over with the second half of the season and we’ll see what happens.”
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]
Mayer Lutheran 37, Central 7
LHS 3 24 3 7 – 37
Central 0 7 0 0 – 7
M- Chad Anenson 38 field goal, 6:19
M – Joel Burfeind 2 run (Anenson kick), 11:29
M – Nathan Weber 5 run (Anenson kick), 8:33
M – Anenson 42 field goal, 5:13
C – Casey Clemensen 4 pass from Isaac Hormann (Zach Schnabel kick), 1:34
M- Anthony Gruenhagen 15 pass from Cole Buttenhoff (Anenson kick), :41.7
M – Anenson 36 field goal, 10:49
M – Burfeind 21 run (Anenson kick), 11:30
First Downs – Mayer Lutheran 15, Central 11
Rushes – Mayer Lutheran 42-267, Central 35-95
Passing – Mayer Lutheran 48, Central 62
Comp-Att-Td-Int – Mayer Lutheran 4-10-0-0, Central 6-14-1-3
Fumbles-Lost – Mayer Lutheran 1-1, Central 1-1
Penalties-Yards – Mayer Lutheran 10-98, Central 4-50
Rushing – Central, Noah Peterson 22-90, Isaac Hormann 1-(-)4, Zach Storms 5-0, Casey Clemensen 1-(-)10, Zach Mahon 5-18, Taylor Sutherland 1-2
Passing – Central Isaac Hormann 5-11-55 yards, 1 td, 3 int, 1-3-7
Receiving – Casey Clemensen 5-55, Cody Milbrett 1-7, Alex Eichner 0-0, Zach Storms 0-0, Atticus Bixby 0-0, Clay Johnson 0-0
Kick Returns – Casey Clemensen 4-102, Zach Heiland 1-26
Sack – Steeven Smith 1
Fumble Recovery – Zach Heiland 1