The St. Mary's Knights opened their season in a tough way when they hosted the second ranked team in Class A in Dawson-Boyd.
The St. Mary’s Knights opened their season in a tough way when they hosted the second ranked team in Class A in Dawson-Boyd.
The Blackjacks (1-0) came into Sleepy Eye and had to fight until the very end, but pulled out a 12-0 victory in which both offenses struggled.
“For the way the year started, with only two weeks of practice and no scrimmage, I mean, I think we played pretty well against a very well coached team,” Knights coach Brent Kucera said.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Blackjacks were able to get on the board midway through the second on a quarterback sneak by Jess Hansen to take a 6-0 lead set up by a punt return inside the 10 yard line.
Neither team would find the end zone on offense again the rest of the game as both defenses dug in.
The only other score was on an interception thrown by Knights quarterback Nick Strate. Eli Weber took it back 50 yards for the touchdown to seal the game.
Strate struggled in his first start as quarterback. He was just 3-18 through the air for 19 yards and threw an interception. Even with the rough start to the season for Strate, coach Kucera hasn’t lost any faith in his ability to be this team’s quarterback.
“Nick did fine,” Kucera said. “He had some good reads. He's six inches away on a few throws from having a long pass. He'll get there. The last two quarterbacks we've had have been great quarterbacks and their first games were worse than this, and this is a great team. Nick's going to get there. I'm not worried.”
With the Knights struggling on offense through the air, Nathan Schroepfer was relied on heavily in the running game and was most of the offense. . Schroepfer was asked upon for more after sophomore running back Brandon Wait went down with a knee injury in the first quarter.
“It's early in the year, so obviously we are not going to be playing our best now,” Schroepfer said. “ [Coach] Kucera has always said, come to the end of the year, that's when we want to be playing our best. Everything that happened is fixable. It was a clean game. We didn't have many penalties.”
Schroepfer carried the ball 21 times for 64 hard fought yards as he was the work horse for the Knights on offense.
With the offense struggling, the defense came strong in a big way holding the Blackjacks to just one offensive touchdown.
Alex Sellner, Kodan Kosak and Nick Helget each had an interception for the Knights. On the defensive line, Sean Salfer and Caleb Berg each did a nice job plugging holes and stopping the run.
With just being a couple plays away from a different result in the game, the Knights know they can be better.
“Losing is never fun,” Schroepfer said. “I guess you can put it as a moral victory, but our guys want to win. We're a group of competitors and I think this one is going to hurt for a while. It's the first time we've lost at home in four years, but it fuels the fire for the next couple weeks. We'll be all right going forward. It's the first game.”
The Knights (0-1) will be back in action Friday night when they travel to Springfield to take on the Tigers. Springfield won their opener against Murray County Central 20-13.