by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Filippo Caminati, an Italian teen who grew up playing rugby, decided to try this American sport called football when he arrived at Spectrum this fall as an exchange student.
Eight games into his new venture, Caminati used his rugby instincts to make a game-saving play Tuesday as the Sting edged Minnesota State Academy of the Deaf 22-20 in the regular-season finale.
With the Sting trailing 20-14 and 11 minutes left, the junior linebacker yanked the ball out of a Trojan’s hands in a scrum at the line of scrimmage and dashed 20 yards to the end zone.
Tristen Rosby passed to Austin Kurilla for the extra points and the Sting made the 22-20 lead stand at Youth Athletic Complex.
“I was trying to tackle him, and I just, stole the ball,” said Caminati, in a heavy Italian accent, halting to ponder what the correct word would be.
Caminati said he “didn’t expect to play football” when he got here. But someone must have talked him into it. “I love football now,” he said.
Coach Brett Wedlund, a Big Lake teacher, wasn’t the one who recruited him, but he’s glad somebody did.
“We put him at safety at first because that is the simplest position in our system,” said Wedlund, “but after a couple games we moved him to linebacker because he’s our hardest hitter.”
Wedlund said Caminati has made a couple similar “steals” before.
“That’s from rugby, I’m sure, ” he said. “They are trained to go after the ball when the play stops.
“The only thing is, we have to show him how to carry it. They hold the ball different because the rugby ball is bigger.”
Jordy Ildvad scored on runs of two and 70 yards for the Sting.
For Minnesota School for the Deaf, it was the first loss of the season. The 150-old Faribault school normally plays nine-man football, mostly against deaf schools from other states.
The Sting, a first-year team, managed a 3-5 record in the regular season with only four seniors among 28 players, and 11 kids in grades 8 and 9.
“That’s pretty good,” said Wedlund. “We were a couple minutes from beating Humboldt, too. We played two ranked teams, Lester Prairie and Bethlehem Academy. Other than that we didn’t lose to anyone by more than two touchdowns.”
Rosby, a junior from Zimmerman, is typical on the Sting with his limited football experience.
“I played youth football in Zimmerman,” he said. “Eighth grade was my last year. I played quarterback, but was not the starter. When I came to Spectrum, it was weird not playing football for two years. When I heard Spectrum was going to start football, I was pretty excited. It’s an honor to be part of the first team here.”
Specrum led 14-6 after Ildvad’s two touchdowns. MSAD took the lead 20-14 with a pair of short touchdown runs by quarterback Brennan McDonough, a 60-yard fumble recovery run for a TD by lineman Sammy Ellenbacker, and a safety on a quarterback sack by Shaun Novella after pinning the Trojans on their two-yard-line with a kickoff.
After the Sting took the lead 22-20, MSAD had a 50-yard pass play from McDonough to Tommy Ellenbecker, but the Sting were able to make two defensive stops in their territory in the time remaining.
This was only the second home game for Spectrum, which had to hastily arrange an independent schedule after deciding last March to start a football team. The Sting were 2-0 at home.
The Sting will have a road game in Section 4AA next Tuesday.