by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River was pummeled by the Osseo Orioles 36-10 at home Friday night but coach Steve Hamilton took the loss in stride and predicted, “This team is still gong to do something this year. When we go to the section we’re going to be ready.”
The Elks (2-5), a distinct underdog to Osseo even at full strength, were missing nine guys, with various maladies including concussions, ankle sprains and banged up joints. That group includes the top two quarterbacks, two starting defensive linemen, a linebacker, and an offensive lineman.
“We looked at it like this — that we are not playing for a conference title at this point,” said Hamilton, “and we need to get healthy, because we have a section where we have a chance to compete, and we need everybody healthy to do that.”
He added that none of the nine are out for the year, just temporarily.
The bright spot for the Elks was Denis Bardashevsky rushing for 199 yards on 23 carries,including a 38-yard yard touchdown, and gainers of 47 and 29 yards. He had all but 60 of the Elks yards from scrimmage.
“Denis is getting better. He is so new to football,” said Hamilton about the compact junior who has about 800 yards his junior season. “Thankfully we have him for another year to work with.”
Osseo, which is 7-0 on the field but officially 5-2 with two forfeits for using an illegal player, physically outmanned the Elks, pushing them back on hard runs up the middle, and shaking off tacklers repeatedly.
Troy Kray scored on a 39-yard run and an 85-yard kick return. Bridge Tusler, one of several members of their state championship basketball team on the roster, bulled for two touchdowns and a conversion run.
“We have a lot of good backs who play hard, and we have a good offensive line and defensive line,” said Oriole coach Derrin Lamker.
About the Elks, he noted: “To hold these guys to 10 points, and I know they have some guys out, but I was proud of our defense tonight, because that is a tough offense to stop. They’d be scary at full strength.”
Lamker said Osseo takes pride in multi-sport athletes.
“We’ve got four or five basketball players, including a couple defensive linemen who are basketball players, and that’s key, and an offensive lineman who’s a hockey player,” said Lamker. “We have good relations with the other coaches. We’re in the bigger conference, with the smallest school, and we have to share the athletes like we do.”
The Elks have three quarterbacks on the shelf: starter Jordan Johnson with a knee and ankle injury, Austin Larson (running back, placekicker and No. 2 QB) with an ankle sprain and the soph team’s quarterback with a broken arm suffered Thursday. Hamilton said Larson probably could have played but under the circumstance it was best to rest him.
That left Clay Elrod, a lanky junior tight end and No. 3 QB, to play most of the game, with Zach Ernst, the JV fullback and backup QB, taking over in the fourth quarter.
Nate Storby, subbing for Larson as kicker, hit a 27-yard field goal and an XP.
Osseo led 22-3 at the half and pretty much wrapped up the victory in the first minute of the second half on two kickoffs. Kray returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and when the Elks bobbled the subsequent kickoff by Osseo, Tony Gamache of the Orioles pounced on the ball at the Elk 19, with Tusler scoring four plays later for a 36-3 lead.
The Elks will close conference play next Wednesday at Park Center (1-6).
Osseo 36 , Elk River 10
Osseo ……….. 7 15 14 0 — 36
Elk River ……. 0 3 7 0 — 10
Oss — Troy Kray 39 run (Adam Bergh kick)
ER — Nate Storby 27 field goal
Oss —Bridge Tusler 3 run (Tusler run)
Oss — Conner Kittelson 15 pass from Garrison Gillard (Bergh kick)
Oss — Kray 85 kickoff return (Bergh kick)
Oss — Tusler 5 run (Bergh kick)
ER — Denis Bardashevskiy 38 run (Storby kick)
Elk River statistics
Rushing — Bardashevskiy 23-199, Maclean Berglove 6-15, Clay Elrod 9-12, Devin Donelson 1-3, Logan Lenertz 2-6, Nate Storby 2-4, Riley Filipovich 1-3, William Hoff 1-(-1), Tristan Smith 1-2, Zach Ernns 3-(-5)
Passing — Elrod 1-3-32-0
Receiving — Filipovich 1-32
Interception — Terry Hadden