Football: Goodhue thumps top-ranked R-P

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RUSHFORD — With just more than a minute to play in the first quarter, Friday's showdown between two of Class 1A's top teams, lightning forced a stoppage that lasted almost an hour.

When top-ranked Rushford-Peterson and No. 4 Goodhue finally got back on the field, what transpired was not in the minds of anyone.

Backed by 376 yards of rushing, and a defense that continues to dominate, the Wildcats stunned a soaked crowd with a 36-0 drubbing of the Trojans.

"You have to play well to get out of our section. And we're playing at a high level right now. Our defense is light's out," said Goodhue head coach Tony Poncelet. "Coach (Billy) Diercks, he's got them playing fast and playing strong and playing with confidence. We have to stay healthy, but we're at a high level. But we shutout that team, at home."

As the sky flashed and dropped more rain, the Wildcats were content to chat away. But the focus was always on getting back on the field, not anticipating a postponement.

"We just sat over there and talked and kept ourselves busy. We didn't sing or play games or anything," said linebacker Casey Ryan.

As well as Goodhue came out of the impromptu break, there were some questions before Mariano Bigalk ended the two-part drive with an 8-yard touchdown run with 9 minutes, 31 seconds to play in the second quarter.

"It was weird," Poncelet said. "I'm glad we picked up where we left off. We had 10 minutes (to warm up) and we used it wisely and went down and scored on that drive. The first quarter was feeling each other out."

Mason Huemann followed with a 69-yard touchdown after breaking several tackles in the secondary, and then the Wildcats blocked a punt that rolled out of R-P's end zone for a 16-0 lead that silenced the Trojans' sideline.

"We played lights out. Poncelet said all week that if they got a few yards, they'd come at us again. So sometimes we did know what was coming," Ryan said.

Goodhue gave up just 76 total yards of offense, with R-P running back Ethan Sense accounting for 57 of those yards on 16 carries.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, saw Huemann pile up 186 yards on 20 carries, and Kaleb O'Reilly added 79 on nine runs. Jack Gadient had an efficient night through the air, hitting 4 of 6 for 65 yards, three of which went to Ryan Schoenfelder for 63 yards.

Defensively, Kaleb O'Reilly had 11 tackles and a fumble recovery, which was the only turnover of the game. Kelby O'Reilly had nine tackles in the win, as did Huemann.

Just before halftime, Ryan added a 14-yard score, and Kaleb O'Reilly made it 30-0 late in the third. Kaleb scored his second with just 5:32 left in the game after running through what seemed like most of the Trojans' defense on his way to a 66-yard exclamation point.

At 6-0, Goodhue takes control in the section race for a top seed and the chance for a pair of home playoff games, which Poncelet said was crucial. His team knows how big of a win it got on Friday, and what it possibly sets up.

"We need to keep our heads at where they've been all season, lock in and don't look past anybody and reach our ultimate goal," Ryan said.

The first test of not looking ahead comes in Week 7, with Kingsland coming to town for homecoming. The Knights have struggled for years, and were winless coming into Friday's game against Winona Cotter. That can make it tough to pay attention to the opponent. Especially so with what will go on all week off the field.

"It's homecoming week, so let's be honest, there is no focus," Poncelet said, smiling. "Every coach in the state will tell you that. So I told them after the game to take it week by week because that's what it is. We can have fun and all that stuff, but we've got something special going on."