Raptors continue to learn despite routs
Cromwell-Wright cruises to a 76-0 win in Carlton
September 29, 2023
When Cromwell-Wright and Carlton/Wrenshall took the field on Friday night, both teams knew the Cardinals were the heavy favorite. The Raptors are trying to meld a program together, while the Cards are one of the top nine-man teams each year in northern Minnesota. When the dust cleared, the Cards had won 76-0, but the Raptors had earned the respect of the opposition.
"Brent had his kids playing hard and excited to play football," said Cardinals coach Jeff Gronner. "For us, our kids have never had a game like that, but they kept their focus and did their jobs."
Raptors first-year head coach Brent Pokornowski is trying to put a team together after the collaborative team played only junior varsity last season.
"Right now we have different goals than most teams," Pokornowski said. "The guys know we are going to have a lot of growing pains, but all we ask is that they keep playing as hard as they can and keep faith that we are working towards a goal, and they can be part of building something special."
The Cards scored 45 unanswered first-quarter points. Drew Nyberg scored first on a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown and followed that with a 16-yard interception return for a score. Nyberg's scores were followed by three touchdowns by Brady Dahl on a 36-yard pass, a 44-yard run, and a fumble recovery in the end zone. Andrew Kachinske caught a 19-yard pass from Nyberg to end the first-quarter scoring. Phoenix Anderson booted three extra points in the quarter, while Nyberg, Cole Aho and Jon Schiller all added two-point conversion runs as well.
In the second quarter, Jayden Laine, Wyatt Goranson and Nyberg added scores, while Lane Gervais added two touchdowns in the third. Gervais ended the game with 107 total yards.
"I thought despite the big lead, our kids did a good job after the first quarter of cheering on the freshman and sophomores who maybe don't get as much playing time," Gronner said. "It was nice that our younger kids got a lot of playing time at the varsity level."
While they struggled to score, the Raptors did have some good individual performances. Carter Woodall passed for 73 yards and Bryce Bartczak passed for 18 yards for a total of 91 yards in the air. German foreign exchange student Malte Assert caught five passes for 77 yards. Jeshua Sjodin had 34 multipurpose yards. Ty Mills led the Raptors with six tackles on defense.
"Most teams glorify the scoreboard, but I tell the guys not to even look at the scoreboard," said Pokornowski. "We are trying to teach them the game and life skills and how to build a program, and if we get caught up in the score instead of getting better we won't succeed in the long run."
Carlton/Wrenshall opened its season facing three of the toughest teams in Section 5 nine-man football: Nevis, Ogilvie and Cromwell-Wright. That will change Friday when they head to Laporte to play the Wildcats in a 1 p.m. game.
"They are 0-4 and we are 0-4, so someone is going to get their first win," Pokornowski said.
Meanwhile, the Cards, who are 4-1, will play at home against Nevis, which is undefeated at 4-0.
"That will be a big one for us," Gronner said. "Ogilvie, who we lost to in the first game of the year, is a big powerful team. Nevis is fast and runs a high-octane offense, so we need to be ready."