Game of the Week: Spring Grove runs away from Lanesboro in battle of top-5 teams
Hunter Holland ran for two touchdowns and Spring Grove's defense held Lanesboro to just 6 points as the Lions beat the Burros to remain unbeaten and claim the top seed in the upcoming Section 1 playoffs.
SPRING GROVE — Section One features two of the best Nine-Man football teams in the state: No. 2 Lanesboro and fifth-ranked Spring Grove.
On Friday, the latter seized a crucial late-season lead in the race for state-tournament qualification.
Led once again by dual-threat quarterback Elijah Solum, who led the game in both passing and rushing yards, the Lions secured the No. 1 seed in the upcoming section tournament with a convincing 28-6 victory over the rival Burros at Blayne Onsgard Memorial Field.
A statement win, for sure.
But these two teams may still have another score to settle in two weeks, with a potential rematch in the section-title game on Nov. 4 looming.
One step at a time.
“Obviously you have to take care of business, both of us, one game at a time,” Spring Grove coach Kody Moore said. “But if all things play out like they should, everybody stays healthy and that type of stuff, then you definitely should look for a showdown here in a couple weeks.”
Spring Grove’s aerial attack is better than most in the Nine-Man ranks. It was on full display against the Burros.
Solum finished 9-of-13 from the pocket for 136 yards and a touchdown, which found senior wide receiver Tysen Grinde for a 7-yard score in the fourth quarter. Grinde piled up a game-high 69 yards on five receptions, followed closely by classmate Caleb Griffin, who had 51 yards receiving on three catches, including a 42-yarder which set up the Lions’ third touchdown late in the third quarter.
Solum also added a game-high 71 rushing yards on nine carries, four of which went for 11 or more yards. Senior running back Hunter Holland added 67 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
“It is a big advantage to have that,” Moore said. “We’ve really preached over the years about trying to be balanced, because we just know the kind of pressure it can put on a defense. And what that comes down to is, these guys in the offseason put in the time. They do 7-on-7 in the summer. They get together on their own and run routes, and that’s the kind of thing you have to do if you want to do what we want to do.
“In general, it’s just nice to have that balance. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
The Burros, meanwhile, struggled to generate anything offensively. Even when they had the ball in threatening areas, their operation stalled.
Things started great for them, though. Spring Grove elected to receive the opening kickoff, but an otherwise promising return ended in a lost fumble for the Lions near midfield, gifting Lanesboro the opening possession of the contest at the Spring Grove 49-yard line. A 13-play drive then ensued, culminating in a crucial fourth down at the 11. The Burros did not convert.
Then, to start the third quarter, immediately following a string of first-half drives that consisted of three punts and a turnover deep in their own territory, the Burros found themselves threatening again. Down 14-0 at that point, a chance to make it a one-score game was suddenly on the table.
But again, a 13-play drive went begging, ending with yet another turnover on downs in Spring Grove territory.
“We obviously have to learn,” Lanesboro coach James Semmen said. “Momentum is key in high-school sports. When we got the turnover right away and we didn’t score, those are things that we have to capitalize on. We just do. Other than that, we have to match the aggression and intensity level that they had. We just did not have that same intensity level on our side.”
Senior running back Orion Sass was limited to 48 hard-earned yards on 20 attempts, a 2.4 per-carry average. Junior quarterback Mason Howard, who completed 5 of 9 pass attempts for 48 yards, led the Burros’ rushing attack, barely, with 49 yards of his own.
Lanesboro was limited to just three plays of 10 or more yards. The Lions had 11, including five that went for 20-plus. Solum had a hand in all five.
“It’s a big statement, beating 7-0 Lanesboro. They’re big and strong. They’re a tough team,” Solum said. “It shows how hard we worked in the weight room this offseason. We really showed that tonight.”
Said Moore: “These guys took it to us the last two years, and they ran all over us last year, so we took pride in the fact that we were able to shut their run down. That was good to see.”
NO. 5 SPRING GROVE 28, NO. 2 LANESBORO 6
Lanesboro 0-0-0-6 — 6
Spring Grove 0-14-7-7 — 28
SG — Tysen Grinde 4 run (Caleb Griffin kick), 11:31.
SG — Hunter Holland 5 run (Griffin kick), 4:17.
SG — Holland 1 run (Griffin kick), 1:04.
SG — Grinde 7 pass from Elijah Solum (Griffin kick), 11:54.
L — Orion Sass 1 run (pass failed), 6:29.
Lanesboro: Mason Howard 17-49, Orion Sass 20-48, Hayden Lawstuen 6-23, Will Harvey 1-4. Spring Grove: Solum 9-71, Holland 14-67, Griffin 1-16, Grinde 1-4, Team 1-minus 1.
Lanesboro: Howard 5-9-0-48, Kaden Stettler 0-2-0-0. Spring Grove: Solum 9-13-0-136.
Lanesboro: Luke Ruen 3-42, Harvey 1-4, Lawstuen 1-2. Spring Grove: Grinde 5-69, Griffin 3-51, Bryce Berns 1-16.