by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River ran wild for 642 yards and posted their first shutout in ten years as they opened the season with a 47-0 romp over Coon Rapids on Thursday evening at Coon Rapids.
It didn’t take the 2014 Elks long to resemble the past three editions in ability to break long runs through crisply-executed misdirections. Starting on their 11-yard line after a fumble, the Elks’ first two plays, with Zach Ernst toting, went 26 and 64 yards for a quick 7-0 lead.
“The line was doing their job, getting the blocks, and opening things up for me,” said Ernst, who later broke a 76-yard touchdown and totaled 267 yards in 13 carries. On both his TDs, he was 10 yards into the clear before the Cardinals knew he had the ball, much like his predecessors Denis Bardashevskiy and Moses Saygbe.
Junior quarterback Trent Pink broke away for 48- and 67-yard scores as he rolled up 141 yards in seven totes.
“Our trap was doing really well tonight,” said Pink. “Our blocks and fakes were good.”
Pink also hit Devell Miller with a swing pass for a 54-yard gain on a third-and-14 play in the second quarter, leading to a touchdown.
“I don’t get to throw very often, and it’s exciting when I do,” he beamed.
The other touchdowns were scored by Peter Jones (28 yards), Miller (10 yards) and Nicholas Rice (15 yards). The Elks continued to rack up yards when the reserves took over, with Rice totaling 85 yards in three totes, including a 67-yard gain.
“This is by far the deepest backfield I’ve had here,” said Hamilton. “We’ve got lots of guys who can carry the ball.”
Coon Rapids quarterback Austin Anda hit 19 of 33 passes for 205 yards as the Cardinals got close to the goal line five times.
However, the Elks held them out of the end zone with a fumble recovery by Nate Collins, interceptions by Alec Hills and Kyle Ziemer, and two other occasions where they broke up pass plays.
“Just like what Coach Kill said when he took over (the Gophers), first, you start by keeping everyone in front of you and make them drive the field,” said Hamilton. “If you’ve got to drive a long time, mistakes happen. We cause a fumble here, get a pick there.”
The last time Elk River post a shutout was Oct. 15, 2004, against Park Center, 7-0.
Hamilton credited defensive coordinator Mike Cross for sharpening the defense. Cross, his predecessor at head coach, rejoined the Elk staff this year.
“I am so glad Coach Cross is here. I tried to get him the last three years.”
Hamilton said his offensive line answered the opening bell.
“Coming in, we have a lot of young linemen, and I know this is he fastest O-line that I’ve had, but they have to perform on Friday night, or Thursday night in this case. And they did a good job.”
Manning the trenches most of the time were junior Alex Haessly and senior Nolan Dwyer at tight end, senior Zac Syverson and sophomore Jalon Nielson at tackle, senior Kyle Jung and sophomore Connor Bryan at guard, and seniors Ben Allen and JT Elliott alternating at center.
Among the backups was 290-pound freshman Ronnie Audette, whom Pink credited for a key downfield block on his 67-yard run.
The Elks will host Andover next Friday.
Elk River 47, Coon Rapids 0
Elk River …….. 14 14 12 7 — 47
Coon Rapids … 0 0 0 0 — 0
ER—Zach Ernst 64 run (Austin Solars kick)
ER—Peter Jones 28 run (Solars kick)
ER—Trent Pink 48 run (Solars kick)
ER—Ernst 76 run (Solars kick)
ER—Devell Miller 10 run (kick failed)
ER—Pink 67 run (kick failed)
ER—Nicholas Rice 15 run (Solars kick)
Rushing — Elk River 48-642, Coon Rapids 28-74
Passing — Elk River 1-3-54-0, Coon Rapids 19-33-205-2
Penalties — Elk River 4-40, Coon Rapids 4-30
Turnovers — Elk River 0, Coon Rapids 3
Elk River statistics
Rushing — Ernst 13-267, Pink 7-141, Rice 3-85, Jones 1-28, Kyle Ziemer 3-16, Alec Hills 3-28, Miller 3-13, Sam Gibas 7-34, Josh Downton 1-7, Jack Kolar 3-9, Nate Collins 2-6, Daniel Gebhardt 1-1, Reed Marohn 1-3
Passing — Pink 1-3-54-0
Receiving — Miller 1-54
Interceptions — Hills, Ziemer
Fumble recovery — Nate Collins
Coon Rapids statistics
Rushing leader — Cody Kowalenko 9-38
Passing — Austin Anda 19-33-205-2
Receiving leaders — Tanner Tunsky 4-63, Tykeise Johnson 5-37, Jordan Little 4-43
Peter Jones 6-1-7, Zac Syverson 4-1-5, Zach Ernst 4-1-5, Justin Streifel 2-2-4, Devell Miller 4-0-4, Jake Hanson 4-0-4, Chase Angel 2-2-4, Nolan Dwyer 2-1-3, Sam Gibas 3-0-3, Alec Hills 2-0-2, Kyle Ziemer 2-0-2, Nate Collins 1-1-2, Brad Edwards 1-1-2, Alex Haessly 2-0-2, Jacob Buhl 2-0-2, Gunnar Davies 1-0-1, JJ Haywood 1-0-1, Jack Kolar 1-0-1, Connor Knutson 1-0-1, Bryce Johnson 1-0-1, Ben Allen 1-0-1