by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Denis Bardashevskiy and the Elk River Elks assaulted the school record books with a 600-yard plus torrent of rushing against a depleted Monticello defense and won by a basketball score, 69-42, over the Magic in their playoff opener Tuesday evening.
“I’m sure it was a fun game to watch, but it seemed like it took forever,” said Elk coach Steve Hamilton. He added, “Now we’ve got a fun game on Saturday.”
The No. 5 seeded Elks (3-6) will take on No. 1 seeded Rogers (8-0) in the Section 6-5A semifinals for the second straight year, hoping for a result similar to last year’s 53-42 win. Game time is 3 p.m.
Bardashevskiy ripped off six touchdowns, tying an 85-year-old team record (see separate article on records), and totaled 317 yards in just 17 carries, as the Elks rolled up a staggering 655 yards in 55 rushes while throwing no passes except on one extra point.
Zach Ernst busted for 130 yards in 14 carries, including a 52-yard gainer, and quarterback Trent Pink rolled out for 92 yards in eight carries. Pink and Josh Hinkemeyer (seven for 42 yards) each ran for two touchdowns. Backup quarterback Nolan Dwyer set up a TD with a 34-yard run off a nice fake when spelling Pink (who had a mild hamstring injury) in the second half.
Bardashevskiy’s scoring burst came from 21, 66, 33, 22, 55, and 52 yards. On five of those he broke into the clear by about 15 yards right away when the Elks’ misdirections completely fooled the Magic.
“Our line was getting their blocks in pretty good,” Pink said. Regarding the success of the fakes on those long sprints, he added, “We try to run outside as much as we can, then bust one inside.”
Monticello was missing its two leading tacklers, both linebackers, with injuries, and their third-leading tackler was also injured two minutes into the third quarter.
“That’s difficult to overcome, against a team like this,” said Magic coach Jason Telecky, who had a defensive end playing middle linebacker.
About the Elks long gainers, Telecky said, “It doesn’t take much of a crease for them (Elks). They are very good at what they do. They carry out fakes very well. You have to play your spot, and these are kids, so they don’t always play their spot.”
Still, the third-seeded Magic were a difficult team to shake off, due to the efforts of three players who had outstanding games.
“We had several guys who really stepped up and were firing on all cylinders tonight,” Telecky said.
Monticello’s resourceful 5-foot-8 quarterback Jake Berthiaume had his first two passes intercepted but shook that off and completed 14 of 24 for 188 yards and three touchdowns, all of them to Andrew Manning.
Manning also scored on a 28-yard reverse and heaved a pass to Nick Bomersine for a 50-yard gain on a trick play.
And Jake Olson, a 6-2, 218-pound fullback, barged for 127 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown.
Hamilton winced a bit when pondering the Elk defense giving up 252 yards passing and 210 running.
“As an offensive coach, it’s OK if you score all the time and rack up all these yards, but you’d like to put them away and get everybody in the game. We have to get a whole lot better on defense, and quick.”
Monticello was still very much in the game when Barthiaume throw a one-yard TD pass to Manning and a two-pointer to Bomersine to pull them within 48-34 with 8:34 left, after which Noah Jacobson recovered an onside kick by Taylor Modaff at the Magic 48.
However, the Elk defense rose to the challenge that time as Christian Tobin sacked Barthiaume and forced a fumble two plays later, with Zac Syverson recovering. Hinkeyemer’s three-yard TD run five plays later made it 55-34.
While Elks yielded 462 yards, they also made six takeaways — interceptions by Peter Jones, Alec Hills and Jake Buhl, and fumble recoveries by Syverson, Austin Larson and Buhl.
Monticello also had two long kick returns and one long punt return in the second half but two were called back for penalties. The one that counted was McRae Voll’s 65-yard kick return that led to a touchdown.
The Magic bogged themselves down with 14 penalties for 110 yards, including three personal fouls. The refs were kept busy by the Elks, too, with 11 flags for 83 yards.
Along with the Elk River at Rogers game, the other semifinal will be No. 6 seeded Buffalo (3-6) at No. 2 seeded St. Michael-Albertville (7-1). Buffalo ousted Willmar 43-20. Rogers and STMA had byes, as the section has only six teams. The championship game will be held Friday at a site to be determined.
Elk River 69, Monticello 42
Elk River ………… 21 20 7 21 — 69
Monticello ……….. 7 12 7 16 — 42
ER—Denis Bardashevskiy 21 run (Austin Larson kick)
ER—Josh Hinkemeyer 7 run (Larson kick)
Mon—Andrew Manning 28 run (Taylor Modaff kick)
ER—Bardashevskiy 66 run (Larson kick)
ER—Trent Pink 11 run (kick blocked)
Mon—Manning 24 pass from Jake Berthiaume (run failed)
ER—Pink 10 run (Larson pass from Pink)
Mon—Manning 31 pass from Berthiaume (kick failed)
ER—Bardashevskiy 33 run (run failed)
Mon—Jake Olson 13 run (Modaff kick)
ER—Bardashevskiy 22 run (Larson kick)
Mon—Manning 1 pass from Berthiaume (Nick Bomersine pass from Berthiaume)
ER—Hinkemeyer 3 run (Larson kick)
Mon—Berthiaume 13 run (Olson run)
ER—Bardashevskiy 55 run (Larson kick)
ER—Bardashevskiy 52 run (Larson kick)
Rushing — Elk River 55-655 … Monticello 40-210
Passing — Elk River none … Monticello 16-26-252-3
Turnovers — Elk River 1 (fum.) … Monticello 6 (3 int., 3 fum.)
Penalties — Elk River 11-83 … Monticello 14-110
Elk River statistics
Rushing — Bardashevskiy 17-317, Pink 8-92, Zach Ernst 14-130, Hinkemeyer 7-42, William Hoff 3-7, Tristan Smith 3-30, Nolan Dwyer 2-37
Passing — none
Interceptions — Peter Jones, Alec Hills, Jake Buhl
Fumble recoveries — Zac Syverson, Larson, Buhl
Sacks — Jones, Christian Tobin
Forced fumbles — Josh Wiczek, Buhl, Tobin
Tackles — Jones 14, Wiczek 12, Larson 8, Ernst 8, Garrett Van Eps 8, Devell Miller 7
Rushing leaders — Olson 24-127, Manning 2-16, McRae Voll 4-51, Berthiaume 6-25
Passing — Berthiaume 14-24-188-3, Manning 1-1-50-0, Sam Johnson 1-1-14-0
Receiving leaders — Manning 7-115, Bomersine 3-40, Johnson 3-40, Voll 1-14
Fumble recovery —Noah Jacobson