Football: Ellsworth roughs up Red Wing in Border Battle
ELLSWORTH – The Ellsworth Panthers don’t care if they’re on the small side. Their plan is they will out-hustle you, out-run you and ultimately, out-play you.
“We do a lot of conditioning, and in practice, Coach makes us run plays until we get everything right,” said Ellsworth senior running back/defensive back Dennis Schutz. “We run it until our plays are perfect.”
Facing a deficit in both size and numbers Friday, the Panthers ran right through Red Wing, out-gaining the Wingers 301-150 in total offense on the way to a 31-0 Border Battle victory at Fuller-Symes Field.
“This one was really nice to come away with,” Schutz said. “Everyone thought we would get beat. They thought they would beat us, and we came out and took it to ‘em.”
Red Wing head coach Matt Schultz added, “They’re a good football team over there. It was their second week and they were ready to play football tonight.”
After putting up 334 rushing yards on Spooner last week, it didn’t take the Panthers long to establish the run game as Dan Giese punched in a 3-yard score with 3 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first quarter. Then in the second quarter, fullback Brandon VanderMarliere bulldozed his way into the end zone on a 1-yard dive to make it 13-0.
Using its quick-yet-strong offensive line, the Panthers were able to put up 290 rushing yards, including 99 yards on 16 carriers from the fullback VanderMarliere.
“They were bigger than us, but none of our linemen are afraid to hit anyone,” VanderMarliere said. “Then we got a lot of depth in our backfield. We got power runners. We got agility runners. And we got combos of both.”
Following the VanderMarliere touchdown, Red Wing tried to move the ball through the air to try and get some momentum back. Devrin Myers tipped a pass from the Wingers’ Isaac Toivonen, and Schutz grabbed the interception and went 26 yards for a touchdown, putting the Panthers up 19-0 with 3:17 left in the first half.
“Coach told us to play off the receivers on that play,” Schutz said. “Devrin hit it, and it was right there for me to take it.”
Throughout the night, Ellsworth’s defensive line was able to bring pressure from the outside as Toivonen threw four interceptions in the loss. He finished 12-for-27 passing for 87 yards. Panthers nose guard Brodey Kemmerer was credited with two sacks.
“The kids really bought into our defense this week,” said Panthers’ head coach Clair Austin. “It was an overall good effort tonight.”
Schutz, who finished with 70 rushing yards, broke the plane for a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:03 left in the third. Then with under a minute left in the game, Riley Melstrom scooted down the sideline for a 22-yard rushing touchdown to make it 31-0 Ellsworth.
“Those kids at Ellsworth are well-coached,” Schultz said. “They can all tackle and you can tell they’ve all been in the weight room.”
Tyler Rea led Red Wing with 55 rushing yards on 16 carries, and also had 11 tackles on defense. Ben Miller hauled in five catches for 35 yards in the loss, and Lucas Knowlton had a team-high 13 tackles.
The Panthers (2-0) play their first Middle Border Conference game Friday against Durand, while the Wingers (0-1) head to Shakopee Friday for Missota Conference play.