by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
An Elk River football team badly in need of a breather got one Friday evening, rumbling past the Armstrong Falcons 51-13 in Robbinsdale.
“A game like this is always enjoyable. Everyone gets to play and you can just relax a bit,” said coach Steve Hamilton. “When everybody gets in and everybody does a good job, that’s really satisfying for the coaches.”
Elk River (2-4) had three closes losses, plus a 35-0 drubbing last week against unbeaten Totino-Grace, heading into the Armstrong game.
They scored on every drive in the first half and got a 75-yard interception return from Nick Johnson in the closing seconds to open a 45-13 lead. The second half was quiet with just one more score.
The Elks ran 43 times for 385 yards, an 8.9 average, while none of their three quarterbacks attempted a pass.
“We moved some guys around after last week because we thought we had to improve,” said Hamilton. “Obviously the offensive line were doing things well, and Nate Storby ran the ball really hard in the first half.”
Storby, a 5-foot-9, 166-pound senior, rolled up 132 yards in just nine attempts, scoring on a 36-yard jaunt and a pair of short runs. He got most of his yards in the first half.
The offensive line that controlled the line of scrimmage in the first half was center George Chomillo, guards Zach Jenson and Christian Tobin, tackles Jrdan Meyer and Wyatt Schuster, and tight ends Clay Elrod and Derek Cross.
Starting QB Jordan Johnson left early when his left knee and ankle were banged up on a six-yard run. Austin Larson finished the half and scored two touchdowns, but tweaked his ankle late in the half. Elrod took over running the offense in the second half.
Denis Bardashevskiy carried 11 times or 61 yards, William Hoff four times for 54 yards, including a 43-yard burst, Larson five times for 50 yards, and Maclean Berglove six for 48 yards.
The Elks led 38-7 in the final minute of the half when Armstrong’s Ethan Carpenter broke a way for a 60-yard touchdown.
The Elks fumbled on the subsequent kickoff, giving Armstrong, still down 38-13, a chance to get a little closer.
But Johnson intercepted a pass in the right flat and rambled 70 yards for a touchdown including some nifty footwork near the sideline to get past some pursuers.
Johnson had another pick six in the third quarter with an apparent 40-yard return for a touchdown but that play was nullified by a rushing the passer penalty.
After the wild first half that ended 45-13, there was just one score in the second half, on Bardashevskiy’s short run after a Falcon fumble. Armstrong had a drive inside the Elk five but Terry Hadden stopped them with an interception.
The Elks picked up their first conference win, improving to 1-2 in the NWSC and 2-4 overall. Armstrong is 1-2 and 1-5.
Next Friday, the Elks will host Osseo, the No. 5 ranked team in Class 6A. The Orioles had to forfeit two wins due to inadvertently using an ineligible player, and have won their other four handily.
Elks 51, Armstrong 13
Elk River ………… 22 23 6 0 — 51
Armstrong ……….. 0 13 0 0 — 13
ER: Austin Larson 15 run (kick failed)
ER: Nate Storby 2 run (Storby run)
ER: Storby 36 run (Larson run)
Arm: Carter Beelman 7 pass from Quinn Frisell (Michael Eldern kick)
ER: Storby 2 run (Storby run)
ER: Larson 13 run (Larson run)
ER: Nick Johnson 70 interception return
Arm: Ethan Carptenter 81 run (kick failed)
ER: Denis Bardashevskiy run (run failed)
Elk team stats — Rushing: 43-385 … Passing: none attempted
Rushing: Storby 9-132, Bardashevskiy 11-61, Larson 5-50, William Hoff 4-54, Maclean Berglove 6-48, Clay Elrod 2-19, Devin Donelson 3-11, Jordan Johnson 1-6
Tackles — Bryan Edwards 13, Jake Knopick 7, Trent Bentz 7, Alex Plaisted 6, Nick Johnson 5, Colton Budreau 5, Riley Filipovich 4, Terry Hadden 4
Interceptions — Johnson, Filipovich, Hadden