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John Marshall football team loses, but tough love seems to be working

Northfield handed John Marshall its third loss to begin this season, beating the Rockets 27-0 in a game that actually demonstrated significant progress by JM.

JM fb.jpg
John Marshall lineman Wyette Stanton pursues Northfield quarterback Kamden Kaiser on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at John Drews Field.
Pat Ruff / Post Bulletin
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This, says Kyle Riggott, is his calling.

Riggott is the first-year head football coach at John Marshall. To say that his opening stanza has gone off without a hitch would be to get it woefully wrong.

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There have been all kinds of hitches in it. That includes more than 30 of his players being forced to miss at least a quarter of Saturday's 27-0 Homecoming Game loss to Northfield at John Drews Field for either missing a class, being late to practice, or both. It was a disciplinary move by Riggott and one that he plans to stick with for as long as necessary.

It also includes his team dipping to 0-3 on the season and having yet to score a point. It did get into the end zone once Saturday against Northfield, but the TD run by Ty'Shawn Beane was called back by penalty.

And it includes a rash of injuries to his Rockets. On a team that was supposed to have elite speed, three of JM's top four fastest players sat out the game with ailments. LeeAndre Harvey is out for the season with a torn ACL, Darius Jordan is expected to miss the next month with a dislocated elbow and Michael Nicometo might be done for the season with a back injury, though he is hopeful to return.

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Nicometo is a senior. And that's another thing working against Riggott. Just two seniors remain on the roster who are having significant impact in games for the Rockets, running back/defensive back Keondre Bryant and offensive/defensive lineman Tate Zeller.

"We're trying to compete with guys who for a lot of teams would be junior varsity players," Riggott.

Add it all up, and Riggott has been up against it in Year One.

So, does the 29-year-old and former Century and Minnesota State, Mankato football star have any regrets about taking over this program, one that hasn't had a winning season in six years and is serving a socio-economic group of players that is lined up with challenges?

As tough as things have been, Riggott's answer is a definitive one. This is exactly where he wants to be, coaching this team and these guys.

Riggott has set out to make a difference in their lives. And as badly as he wants to win football games along the way, he's refusing to sacrifice doing the right thing by his players to win games.

"We are willing to sit players out for as long as it takes," Riggott said. "We believe it's the right way to go. Success takes work."

Then, showing emotion, Riggott came back to his life's mission.

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"I believe I am doing what I am called to do," he said, tears in his eyes. "I want these kids to know that and feel that and to start achieving things themselves."

As one-side as the final score was on Saturday, Riggott believed his team did achieve things against Northfield. And no doubt, for a group that was completely overmatched in its opener against Mankato West, then made a massive amount of physical and emotional mistakes in losing to Austin, things looked infinitely better against Northfield.

That was especially true in the second half when JM was easily the strongest it's been up front this season, started wrapping up at all positions on defense, and got a serious spark at quarterback from third-stringer Dominic Chhin.

Chhin, a sophomore who is only 5-foot-4, 130 pounds, played like JM's new Little Big Man.

He showed off an ability to run and make plays. He also hit nicely on some passes and finished with 135 yards passing and put his body on the line with scrambles a number of times.

"I just try to do whatever I can to help the team." Chhin said.

Beane, another sophomore, is doing the same thing. A linebacker and a running back, Beane made a large impact Saturday, particularly on defense where he showed off his speed, strength and will with a bunch of tackles.

He believes JM took a step on Saturday. It was his team's attitude that had him feeling best.

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"Today, we put up a fight," Beane said. "Our boys didn't hit the quit button all game long. We came out with intensity and energy. We didn't point fingers, but instead put love and respect into each other."

Some lessons are being learned.

Northfield 27, John Marshall 0
Northfield 14-6-0-7 — 27
John Marshall 0-0-0-0 — 0
First quarter

N — Nicholas Kaiser 39 run (kick failed), 8:21.

N — Kaiser 8 run (Oliver Momberg pass from Kaiser), :37.

Second quarter
N — Austin Koep 25 pass from Kaiser (run failed), :18.

Fourth quarter

N — Charlie Monaghan 9 run (Ryan Cahoon kick), 4:24.

TEAM STATISTICS

Northf JM

First downs 13 16

Total net yards 263 234

Rushing yards 187 99

Passing yards 76 135

Pass at.t-comp.-int. 3-9-0 10-29-1

Fumbles lost 0-0 1-1

Penalties yards 7-80 8-75

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

Northfield — Cameron Mellgren 12-44, Gabriel Sawyer 1-5, Charles Monaghan 16-79, Kamden Kaiser 4-59. John Marshall — Keondre Bryant 11-31, Jericho Mims 6-18, Jacob Brumm 1-(minus 5), Ty'Shawn Beane 3-7, Dominic Chhin 9-48.

Passing

Northfield — Kaiser 3 completions, 9 attempts, 0 interceptions, 1 touchdown, for 76 yards. John Marshall — Brumm 0-3-0-0- for 0 yards, Chhin 10-26-1-0, for 135 yards.

Receiving

Northfield — Jacob Geiger 1-42, Austin Koep 2-34. John Marshall — Lael Martinez 2-15, Ben Rieder 1-19, Zach Ladu 4-61, Eli Ladu 2-37.

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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