Knights open playoffs with win over Trojans

CJ Surprenant
Special to the Herald-Dispatch

Knights 46 Trojans 22

The St. Mary’s Knights picked up a playoff win at home on Tuesday, Oct. 26 over the Ortonville Trojans. This is their first playoff win since transferring to class 9-Man. 

This game was going to be won in the trenches, and the Knights knew that. Ortonville runs a simple, powerful triple-option offense. They rely on deception and hesitation to get the ball carrier into open space, ideally while the defense is looking the other way. This tight-bunched, run-heavy offense was studied by the Knights, and they came ready to stop it.

The opening of the game looked rough, as the Trojans recovered an onside kick to start the game. The 1st quarter saw the Trojans run for a pair of long touchdowns, putting the Knights in a 14-0 hole. They answered back in the 2nd quarter, going up 22-14.

The Knights line up just feet from the goal line for a touchdown, late in the 2nd quarter, at home Tuesday Oct. 26, when they defeated Ortonville in Section play.

With a lead at halftime, the Knights went into the locker room and got to the drawing board. With a few strokes of an expo marker, they devised a plan to open up the field and get in the end zone. They came out in the second half, ready to light up the scoreboard. The Trojans dug their heels in the dirt and made a tough stand against the Knights, but they simply couldn’t keep up.

The Knights scored twice, followed by the Trojans once. That was the last time the Trojans would see the end zone. The Knights adapted offense was electric, and Ortonville couldn’t keep up. This was evident in their play calling, chiefly. Despite being down multiple scores with the clock winding down, they refused to drop back and pass the ball. This one-dimensional attack was stuffed, leaving the Trojans with a long bus ride home. 

Leading the offensive charge was senior running back Trent Steffensmeier, junior fullback Brandon Tauer, sophomore quarterback Mark Anderson, junior wideout Kaleb Wait, and freshman tight end Talan Helget. Steffensmeier bulldozed on the ground, keeping the Trojans tight in the box. Tauer did the same, routinely plowing into piles of white jerseys for yards. Once Ortonville committed to stopping the run, the receivers found themselves with nothing but grass and glory ahead of them. 

The defense had to be adjusted to this run-heavy offense, and it took a while to settle into it. Once they found their footing, they executed routinely. Steffensmeier led this assault, aided by senior nose guard Jacob Stevens, sophomore linebacker Haden Zarn, senior defensive end Carson Domeier, and Tauer at linebacker. The difficulty of locating the ball carrier cannot be understated. Many times, the Knights fans cheered as a Trojan was brought down behind the line of scrimmage, just to see someone else streaking down the other sideline with the ball. The Knights were able to adapt and overcome this challenge, and picked up a win in the end. 

Special-teams had an interesting story. The Trojans go for the onside kick every time, leaving the Knights’ front line to find the ball and hold onto it. Save for the opening one, St. Mary’s managed to recover the rest. Neither of the Knights' punts were returned for more than 5 yards. The Knights kicked multiple touchbacks, and even secured an onside kick of their own. 

They’ll travel to Danube on Saturday, Oct. 30 to play Renville County West at 2 p.m. in the Section 2 Semifinals.