Esko routs East, wins by 57
September 8, 2023
Esko fans have been anticipating the high school football season ever since the team lost in the state quarterfinals last year. On Aug. 31, Esko showed its optimism was warranted, demolishing Duluth East on the road, 63-6.
"I knew we had a lot of pieces on both sides of the ball," said Esko coach Scott Arntson. "I knew we'd be good, but you still have to get on the field and prove it."
Esko has team speed to burn and plenty of big strong athletes. They were so overwhelming that by the end of the first quarter they led 28-0 and by halftime the score was 56-0.
"Things just snowballed and we got a lot of short fields," Arnston said. "We got an interception, a fumble recovery, a punt return for a touchdown; on offense, we had some big advantages."
Esko was so dominant that Arntson pulled his starting backfield midway through the second quarter and his starting line at the start of the third.
"It's great that we get to play a lot of players, but it also can become a problem down the line," Arnston said. "We get a lot of guys in the game, but the starters didn't get a lot of reps, and down the line we need to figure out a few things."
Esko had 13 players carry the football with bruising running back Joey Antonutti leading the charge with 56 yards on just three carries as well as a fumble recovery. Koi Perich, Gino Bertogliat and Ethan Kilichowski each scored two touchdowns while Ryan Sturm and Jacion Owens both had a single score.
Despite the impressive opening win against the Greyhounds, Arntson isn't about to let his team rest on its laurels.
"After watching the film, there is still plenty to work on," the head coach said. "The line is at times still blocking the wrong guy, and there are just a lot of things we still have to do because it is early in the season."
For the game, Esko outgained the Greyhounds 307 yards to 83 despite their starters playing, in some cases, less than a half a game.
"We need to focus on being the best Esko team we can be," Arnston said.
Esko will open its home season on Friday night at home against Proctor at 7 p.m.