by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Pivotal plays just before and just after halftime launched the Elk River Elks on a 37-13 victory over Centennial on Friday night, spoiling the Cougars’ debut on a new turf field.
The Elks (1-1) posted their first win over Centennial since 2004 in decisive fashion, despite a relatively modest rushing total (256 yards) by their standards, as they passed for 105 and two touchdowns, and grabbed three Cougar fumbles.
The Elks trailed 13-6 after Centennial scored with 54 seconds left in the half, but the visitors stunned the Cougars with a 68-yard drive in 32 seconds on two breakaways by Denis Bardashevskiy, including his 24-yard touchdown dash when everyone was anticipating a pass. Austin Larson’s two-point run put the Elks ahead 14-13.
The Cougars got the second-half kickoff but fumbled on the first play, and Elk quarterback Jordan Johnson hit tight end Jordan Meyer over the top on the next play for a 32-yard touchdown. He passed to Maclean Berglove for two more and a 22-13 lead.
The Elks would control things the rest of the half and tack on two more touchdowns, both on short runs by Johnson.
“Great game for us. Unlike last week, we were finishing our drives tonight,” said Elk coach Steve Hamilton, hearkening to an opening 28-14 loss to Blaine where they missed chances to open a big lead. “It’s a real nice win for us, but I’m a little upset that we are not 2-0.”
The Elks yielded just 74 yards rushing to Centennial (0-2).
“Our defense was awesome,” said Hamilton. “We had one fumbled snap where we gave them a short field, but other than that we shut them down.”
Bardashevskiy totaled 136 yards on 25 carries. Johnson nailed seven of 15 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns while running 10 times for 55 yards and two scores. He hit Berglove with a four-yard toss to open the scoring.
“J.J. stopped up and hit some big passes tonight,” said the coach, whose normal mode of attack is run, run, run. (Last year’s starter, Corey Collins, a tough runner, passed for 109 yards all year.)
Centennial’s TD’s were a nine-yard run by Michael Diggins and a 20-yard pass play from Max Cory to Pierre Roddy, both in the second half.
Fumbles hurt the Cougars all evening. They muffed a punt near mid-field in the first quarter and the Elks capitalized with their first scoring drive. Right after that, the Elks tried an onside kick and failed, with Centennial recovering at midfield, but they fumbled again at the Elks 27. And the fumble early in the third quarter led to another touchdown.
The game was the first to be played on the Centennial field which had turf installed this summer at a cost of close to a million dollars, funded by community/booster clubs through contributions and fund-raising. The field will also be used for soccer, lacrosse, track-and-field teams, marching band and physical education classes. Centennial is the second NWSC school to have an artificial turf field, joining Maple Grove.
Elk River will host Maple Grove next Friday in the last of three “cross-over” non-conference games against the bigger schools in the Northwest Suburban Conference. The five games after that will count in the standings.
Elk River 37, Centennial 13
Elk River ………. 6 8 16 7 — 37
Centennial ……..0 13 0 0 — 13
ER—Maclean Berglove 4 pass rom Jordan Johnson (run failed)
Cen—Michael Diggins 9 run (Hans Gorowsky kick)
Cen—Pierre Roddy 20 pass from Max Cory. (Kick failed)
ER—Denis Bardashevskiy 24 run (Austin Larson run)
ER—Jordan Meyer 32 pass from Johnson (Berglove pass from Johnson)
ER—Johnson 1 run (Berglove pass from Johnson)
ER—Johnson 3 run (Larson run)
Elk River offensive statistics
Rushing — Bardashevskiy 25-136, Johnson 10-55, Berglove 7-25, Larson 3-12, Devin Donalson 3-25, Will Hoff 1-3
Passing — Johnson 7-15-105-0
Receiving — Meyer 2-55, Berglove 5-50