High school football is back! On a beautiful October evening, coach McPherson took his 2020 Orono Spartans on the road against an always tough and well prepared Benilde St. Margaret’s team. The Orono formula of running behind a big and tough offensive line with a duel threat rushing attack combined with a run stuffing turnover minded defense would carry the Spartans to a 31-7 victory. The Spartans forced 5 turnovers and contained BSM to just 126 total yards and only 35 yards on the ground. The Orono offense, behind the experienced offensive line of Jacob Goman, Shea Albrecht, Johnny Harstad, Charlie Brophy, and Sam Swenson, racked up 347 total yards, 271 of those on the ground.
The hurried and shortened pre-season showed in both teams early as each offense showed promise in moving the ball but neither team would score in the 1st quarter. Orono’s defense forced another punt early in the 2nd quarter and the Orono offense went to work midway through the second quarter. And it would be a crafty run off the left side by Orono senior quarterback Teddy Deters that got Orono going. Deters used timely runs all night to keep Orono drives alive, rushing for 107 yards on just 7 carries. Junior Aiden Mueller scored the first touchdown of the season on a strong 18 yard run. Mueller would have a huge night on his way to three touchdowns, 136 yards rushing and 56 yards receiving.
On the ensuing drive by BSM, senior cornerback Mike Wojciechowski made a great break on the ball and intercepted a BSM pass. “Wojo” had a strong return weaving through attempted tackles all the way down to the BSM 25 yard line. With Orono feeling momentum swinging in their favor the Spartans quickly moved down to a first and goal just inside the 10 yard line. An unnecessary roughness penalty pushed them back 15 yards and then a holding call on the very next play made it a very unusual 3rd and goal from the 40 yard line. That third down play was a Deter’s screen pass to Aiden Mueller out in the left flat who picked up some timely blocking and used the speed, power, and elusiveness he displayed all night breaking arm tackles, finding a seem, and outrunning the BSM defenders into the end zone to put Orono ahead 14-0.
With time running out in the half BSM used it’s two biggest plays of the game to get on the scoreboard. A 35 yard touchdown pass with just :01 on the clock got the Red Knights to within a score at 14-7.
With each team unable to sustain drives early in the 3rd quarter, the Orono defense would force another BSM punt from deep in their own end. Orono took over near midfield. Facing 3rd and 14, Deters rolled to his right and raced down the sideline for a first down at the BSM 17- yard line. Orono scored three plays later on a 1-yard run by Mueller to push the score to 21-7.
A botched punt attempt by BSM on the next drive gave Orono the ball at the BSM 27-yard line late in the third quarter. The Spartan drive stalled at the BSM 11 and Junior Kicker Jack Kalman nailed the 22- yard field goal to make the score 24-7. In addition to the field goal, Kalman hit all four extra point attempts making it a perfect evening in the kicking game.
The final points of the night came on a pick six when sophomore cornerback Roman Licursi intercepted a BSM pass and found his way through the entire BSM team for a 40-yard touchdown and 31-7 score. On the final BSM possession senior defensive end Brock Ramaker recovered a BSM fumble putting the cap on a big night for Orono.
In a very strong showing for the Orono defense, senior linebacker Joey Tilzer had 10 tackles including a sack and forced a fumble, senior linebacker Dave Wilfert had 9 tackles and fumble recovery, senior linebacker Graham Beltrand had 8 tackles, senior defensive end Andrew Mandel has 6 tackles and was constantly in the BSM backfield harassing their QB, sophomore linebacker Bradley Walker had 6 tackles and two sacks, senior defensive back Mike Wojciewchowski had 5 tackles and an interception, junior defensive tackles Sam Swenson and Charlie Brophy each had 4.5 tackles and .5 sacks, senior defensive end Connor Chappell had 4 tackles and senior cornerback Ryan Rudd has 3 tackles.
The 1-0 Spartans will be on the road again Friday to face 1-0 Cooper, one of the top teams in class 5A.