by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Finally, an opponent not ranked in the top ten. Finally, a chance for the Elk River football team to demonstrate they can be pretty good, too, despite their record.
With Denis Bardashevskiy dashing for 280 yards and four touchdowns — and breaking the 40-year-old school career rushing record — the Elks (1-5) steamrolled to their first victory 50-23 against winless Robbinsdale Armstrong on Friday evening.
Oh, it was homecoming, too.
“We’ve been trying our best to get through this tough season,” said Bardashevskiy. “We’ve played a lot of really good teams. We are trying to keep our heads up and play our hearts out.”
Bardashevskiy blasted 64 yards on the first play from scrimmage and wound up averaging 23 yards for his 12 carries with additional TD’s of 70, 50 and three yards, playing only the first half.
With the Elks leading 44-7 at halftime, coach Steve Hamilton cleared the bench in the second half, letting 15 kids carry the ball as they rolled up 509 ground yards.
“We had fun tonight. It was nice to get everybody in the game. That is what you hope for at homecoming,” said Hamilton. “And the kids were excited to try help Denis get that record, too, at homecoming.”
Barashevskiy pushed his season total to 1,082 and and his career total to 3,020. Needing 158 yards to break the record, the 6-foot, 170-pound senior got there in just five carries, with the 70-yard touchdown doing the trick. The announcement was made and he got a rousing ovation along with hugs and back-slaps from excited teammates.
The previous record of 2,897 yards was established by Jeff Hawkins in 1971-72-73. Last year, Bardashevskiy eclipsed Hawkins’ single-game record of 340 (with 370 against Rogers) and single-season record of 1,655 (with 1,938). Hawkins, a charter member of the ERHS Sports Hall of Fame, lives in Rockford.
“It feels really good,” said Bardashevskiy about the career record. “But it’s all about the line. I’ve had a great line last year and this year. I get excellent blocks and I just follow them. Tonight was a little like the Rogers game last year.”
Hamilton said Bardashevskiy is the big-play guy that his offense needs.
“The biggest thing is, he can really go, and that’s what we look for in that spot. We need him to be the home-run hitter that can take it to the house any time, and put the defense on notice that they better look out for this guy.”
Junior back Zach Ernst added 91 yards in 12 carries, including a 26-yard touchdown, and sophomore quarterback Trent Pink rambled for two scores and 39 yards in seven carries.
About the team’s breakout game, Hamilton said: “We knew we are getting better and better. We’ve just had a bunch of fumbles this game and a bunch of penalties that game. We have been preaching, just take care of this, and if we stop playing against ourselves, and just play against the opponent, we’ll be OK. ”
Armstrong has a slick quarterback in Quinn Frisell, who hit 11 of 14 passes for 171 yards and two over-the-top touchdowns, to Dexter Betts and Duncan Harless.
The Elks led 25-7 after a first quarter that included two safeties caused by center snaps over Frisell — one that sailed through the end zone, and one that pinned the Falcons on the one-foot line, with Elk lineman Garrett Van Eps tackling Jerome Burnes in the end zone two plays later.
Elks face another power, Osseo
Armstrong is one of only two weak teams on the Elk schedule, and is the lesser of the two, as Park Center got its lone win against the Falcons 48-14.
The Elks, with five losses to teams with a combined 24-5 record, four of them top-ten ranked, face another metro power next Friday at Osseo. The Orioles, ranked No. 6 in Class 6A, are 5-1 with their lone loss to No. 7 Minnetonka 31-28. The Elks will finish conference the following Wednesday against Park Center.
Bardashevskiy’s 70-yard touchdown was only the second-longest run of the evening. A naked young man exceeded it at halftime.
After the royalty was introduced and the dance team performed, when the field cleared, a streaker sprinted 100 yards down the middle of the field. Assistant principal Ken Jordan, who was on the sideline, took off in pursuit of the streaker along with three policemen. They caught him after he made it across the track. The crowd gasped at first but seemed amused for the most part, several of them applauding the brazen youngster.
Jordan said the streaker was an ERHS student, and that he was arrested.
“There will also be school consequences, too,” he added.
(Yes, the Star News has a photo.)
Elks 50, Armstrong 23
Armstrong … 7 0 16 0 — 23
Elk River …. 25 19 6 0 — 50
ER—Denis Bardasehvskiy 64 run (Austin Larson kick)
ER—safety, center snap through end zone
ER—Trent Pink 6 run (Larson kick)
Arm—Jerome Burnes 3 run (Duncan Harless kick)
ER—Bardashevskiy 70 run (Larson kick)
ER—Garrett Van Eps safety
ER—Pink 1 run (kick failed)
ER—Bardashevskiy 50 run (kick failed)
ER—Bardashevskiy 3 run (kick failed)
Arm—Dexter Betts 47 pass from Quinn Frisell (Harless kick)
ER—Zach Ernst 26 run (kick failed)
Arm—Harless 49 pass from Frisell (Will O’Hora run)
Rushing — Elks 59-509 … Armstrong 24-66
Passing — Elks no attempts … Armstrong 11-14-171-0
Penalties — Elks: none … Armstrong 5-45
Turnovers — Elks none … Armstrong none
Rushing — Bardashevskiy 12-280, Pink 7-39, Ernst 12-91, Ryan Osberg 6-24, Devell Miller 2-24, Will Hoff 4-18, Larson 1-3, Matt Merkling 2-7, Nolan Dwyer 3-9, Josh Hinkemeyer 3-9, Michael Young 1-3, Daniel Gebhardt 1-12, Alec Hills 3-(-2), Tristian Smith 1-1, Nick Leonard 1-1
Rushing leaders — Burnes 11-46, O’Horo 4-12
Passing — Frisell 11-14-171
Receiving leaders — Armstrong Harless 3-63, Betts 2-54