Hibbing Daily Tribune
HIBBING — Leading by six with just over nine minutes to play in the third quarter, it was gut-check time for the Cloquet High School football team.
The Lumberjacks were trapped on their own 2-yard line, and Hibbing had most of the momentum.
Cloquet proceeded to march 98 yards in 10:27, scored a touchdown, then wore the Bluejackets out en route to a 50-14 victory Friday at Cheever Field.
The score sounds lopsided, but according to Lumberjack coach Tom Lenarz, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Hibbing gave us everything we could handle in that first half,” Lenarz said. “I was impressed with how physical they played, with how the executed. Clearly, their coaches had a good game plan, and stopped some of the stuff we like to do.
“For our kids, it was important for our kids to come out of the half and play physically, and match that intensity. It was a fun football game.”
Hibbing coach Shawn Howard couldn’t have been more proud of the way his guys played, especially for three quarters.
“We played tough,” Howard said. “Going into that fourth quarter, down by six, that was great to see this team do that. We needed a close game.”
It actually looked like it might be a runaway in the first half as Cole Ketola scored on runs of 27 and 40 yards in the first quarter, then Derek Rengo rambled over from five yards out in the second quarter to make it 20-0.
“We wanted to start fast,” Lenarz said. “We talked about that because we haven’t been. Penalties have been a problem for us all year long, and that was an issue in the first again.
“That’s something we have to continue to work on. We’re not young anymore. It’s midway through the season. We have to stop making some of these mistakes.”
That’s when the Bluejackets started to make a charge.
With the running of Dominic Marchetti and Josh Kivela, Hibbing would run off 14-straight points to make it 20-14 entering the half.
“That was huge for our team,” Howard said. “We haven’t been able to fight back the past three games. To be able to fight back in this game, to make some moves, to make some plays and have the team believe in each other that we can move the ball on offense, and make stops on defense, that was huge.”
One those stops was on Cloquet’s first drive of the third quarter. The Bluejackets had a three-and-out, and took over after a short Cloquet punt near midfield.
Unfortunately for the Bluejackets, they didn’t take advantage of that, and they had to punt the ball away.
“That was a momentum killer,” Howard said. “Had moved the ball a little bit on that drive, we actually could have been able to keep going, and maybe put a touchdown on the board.”
Maxon Baron’s punt settled in at the 2-yard line, making the Lumberjacks’ job a little more difficult.
“Had we gotten a stop, that would have been huge for our team,” Howard said. “It was a huge punt by Max. We had to get the stop.”
Lenarz’s team handled it superbly, steadily marching the ball down the field, and overcoming a couple of holding penalties in the process.
They started that drive with 9:08 showing on the clock, and scored at 10:41 of the fourth quarter when Marshall Hayes ran it over from five yards out.
“One of the things we talked about at the half is we had to line up and do what they doing, line up and foot-to-foot,” Lenarz said. “We had to match their physicality. That was our goal.
“I’m proud of my kids. They came out and executed. Hibbing gets a stop on us, which is a big momentum thing. If they go and score, this is a completely different game. For us to get that stop was huge. The offensive line took over and maybe wore Hibbing down a little bit.”
Cloquet would go on to score three more times on a Rengo 8-yard run, a 3-yard run by Hayes and a 2-yard run by Deeken Fjeld to put the icing on the cake for the Lumberjacks.
CHS 14 6 0 30 — 50
HHS 0 14 0 0 — 14
C — Cole Ketola 27 run (kick blocked)
C — Ketola 40 run (kick blocked)
C — Derek Rengo 5 run (Parker McArthur run)
H — Dominic Marchetti 65 pass from Mayson Brown (Maxon Baron kick)
H — Marchetti 2 run (Baron kick)
C — Marshall Hayes 5 run (Rengo run)
C — Rengo 8 run (run failed)
C — Hayes 3 run (Ketola run)
C — Deeken Fjeld 2 run (Griffin Fjeld run)
Silver Bay 15
SILVER BAY — The Mariners scored twice in the fourth quarter en route to the shutout victory over the Tigers at home Friday.
Mason Ollman scored on a 29-yard run, then Luc Stadler scored on a 2-yard run for Silver Bay.
The Mariners also had a field goal in the second quarter.