Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Irishdew
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Section finals for the Rebels on Halloween


October 31, 2019

Jennifer Szcyrbak

Blake Juhl 23 rushed for 127 yards, 65-yard touchdown and two-point conversion, follows his blocker, Austin Tomczak 50.

On a beautiful, sunny Saturday, Willow River was the host to the Moose Lake Willow River Section 7AA semi-finals football game against Royalton on October 26. Before the game, the Royals' coach told Rebels' head coach, Dave Louzek, that his team was hungry for a victory. The Rebels had defeated the Royals in the Section 7AA finals in 2017 and 2018.

The Royalton Royals dominated the first-half with their performance, leading 8-0 at the buzzer. In the second half, the Rebels began playing like they have all season and captured the come-from-behind victory 20-8. Rebels quarterback, Mason Olson, threw for 146 yards, completing 16 of his 21 attempts. Running back, Blake Juhl, had 127 rushing yards and receiver, Carter Johnson had 74 receiving yards. Royals' quarterback, Gavin Sowada, had 12 passing yards but their team rushed for 188 yards compared to the Rebels 123 yards.

Freshman Sam Knezevich kicked off to start the first-half and the Royals were able to get five consecutive first-downs to keep the ball with the Royalton's offensive squad. The Rebels' defense held them off from scoring and the Royals turned the ball back to MLWR on downs on the one-yard line. Rebels got a false start penalty, dropped a pass, no gain on a run and had to punt to the 38-yard line. The Royals' offensive got an intentional grounding penalty to end the first quarter.

The Royals started out the second quarter with a holding penalty and from the 15-yard threw a pass into the end zone that was dropped to give the ball back to MLWR. Rebels had to punt after three downs. Royalton ran for three first downs. With fourth and seven on the 23-yard line, Dylan Skwira caught a pass for a first down. Brady Conrad scored from the five-yard line, Skwira ran for the two-point conversion and Royals led 8-0 with 1:16 to go in the first-half.

After half-time, the Rebels came out and played like they have in the regular season with passes to Eli Werner, Brady Watrin, and Johnson. Juhl had a 65-yard touchdown run. Two-point conversion failed. Royals led 8-6 to end the third quarter.

With ten minutes left in the game, Rebels' ball, fourth and sixth on the six-yard line, Olson was looking for a receiver in the end zone, threw towards Werner. It bounced off a Royals' defender, Werner caught it for six. Two-point conversion failed. Rebels led 12-8.

Rebels' freshman, Jackson Thompson, recovered a Royalton fourth-and-one fumble. With 5:51 left in the game, Johnson caught a 36-yard pass from Olson for six more. Juhl ran in the two-point conversion. Rebels led 20-8.

Juhl finished the game with eight tackles and four assists, Thompson had six tackles and ten assists, and Brady Watrin with five tackles and five assists. Brodie Hoffman had a sack.

Royaltons' quarterback was tackled on a keeper for no gain on first-down and then sacked by Logan Privette on second-down and had to punt. Juhl ran the ball for three-downs, then Johnson caught a pass for a first-down. With 1:28 left in the game, Olson took a knee three times and game ended with a 20-8 victory for the Rebels.

After the game, Louzek said "These kids just amaze me." The Rebels will travel to the Esko Sports Complex on October 31, Thursday at 7:15 to face the Mesabi East Giants, who won the other semi-final game against Crosby-Ironton 38-14 at Crosby on Saturday.


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