Pine River-Backus senior Weston Smith was chosen most valuable offensive lineman for the North Star Conference, it was announced at the Tigers’ football team banquet on Monday, Nov. 4.
Smith, along with teammates Jared Adkins, Brandon Mager, Jace Loge and Sam Pelkey were all-conference selections for the Tigers, who tied for the North Star Conference title. PR-B’s Triston Rubner, Henry Krecklau and Zach Struss were all-conference honorable mention players.
Other team awards included: Mager, most valuable offensive player; Adkins, most valuable defense; Loge, most valuable special teams; Smith, most valuable lineman; Struss, rookie of the year; Nick Gravdahl, little big man; Shane Fleming, most improved: and Rubner, Tiger team award.
Upsala/Swanville defeats Tigers
PR-B finished the regular season 7-3 overall after losing to top-seed Upsala/Swanville Patriots 35-20 in the Section 6A semifinals on Saturday, Oct. 26.
“The middle of the season was really good when we had everyone healthy,” said Tiger coach Tom Demars. “It would have been nice to have everyone healthy going into the playoffs.”
At Swanville, fourth-seeded PR-B received the opening kickoff and couldn’t manage anything offensively as their first possession, which ended with a blocked punt. The Patriots eventually turned the ball over on downs at the PR-B 26.
The Tigers had a more effective offensive drive, plus a defensive holding penalty helped the Tigers. After the penalty Triston Rubner took a pitch for five yards, Travon Pederson ran a sweep for 15 yards, and Struss hit Fleming for 10 yards to the Patriots 16. Struss then hit Rubner for another seven yards and Jared Adkins dove in from three yards out to make it 6-0 with 2:47 left in the first. Struss passed to Mager for the two-point conversion.
The Patriots began their next drive at the PR-B 40. A couple short runs by Mitch Lange got the ball to the Tiger 32 on the next play he exploded on a counter to the outside for a 32-yard touchdown with 1:54 to cut their deficit to 8-6.
Things turned bad on the ensuing kickoff as the Tigers fumbled the kickoff at the PR-B 16, and it was recovered by Mitch Lange. On the next play, Lange ran up the gut of the Tiger defense for a 16-yard touchdown, plus the successful two-point conversion made it 14-8 with 1:36 left in the opening period.
The game would be tied on the ensuing kickoff as Brandon Mager returned it 90 yards to the house to tie it 14-14. The high-scoring first quarter ended after Tyler Evans hit Jordan Sales for 18 yards to the PR-B 34. The Patriots eventually got to the Tigers’ nine, but couldn’t score and turned the ball over on downs.
PR-B couldn’t muster much on their first possession of the second quarter and were forced to punt. Upsala/Swanville started its drive at the Tiger 28. The Patriots capped the short drive by Evans connecting with Sales for a 13-yard touchdown with 6:43 to go in the first half. The missed extra point made it 20-14.
Tigers were forced to again punt, which gave Upsala/Swanville another short field at the PR-B 26. Lange had a 12-yard run to put the Patriots at the Tiger 11. He then scampered in from 11 yards for his second touchdown of the game, and also added the two-point conversion to make it 28-14 with 4:05 to go in the half.
The Tigers’ next drive ended with Triston Rubner fumbling at his own 31, which set up a short field again. This time the defense bowed their necks and forced the Patriots to turn the ball over on downs.
A little creativeness with Fleming end around to the left side got the Tigers going on their next possession for five yards. Later in the drive, Struss connected with Mager for 29 yards to the Upsala/Swanville 15, but Struss would be intercepted to end the half.
“We gave them too many short fields in the first half,” said Demars, “but I think we played well defensively in the second half.”
Neither team did anything in their first few drives to start the second half. On the Tigers’ fourth possession of the third quarter, PR-B started to build momentum with a 40-yard run by Jared Adkins to the Patriot 35. Adkins finished the drive with a two-yard scamper with 10:37 left in game to make it 28-20.
The Patriots began on their 33-yard line, and then runs of 13 and 27 yards by Lang brought the ball to midfield. They continued to play smash mouth football and Lang ended the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run with 7:45 to go. The successful extra point made it 35-20.
The last drive for the Tigers ended without them scoring as Upsala/Swanville advanced to the section final.