Thole: Raiders strong-arm Ponies gridders

After falling to the Ponies earlier this season, Cretin-Derham Hall played an inspired game to eliminate Stillwater from the Section 4AAAAAA playoffs on Friday at O’Shaugnessy Stadium in St. Paul. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

After falling to the Ponies earlier this season, Cretin-Derham Hall played an inspired game to eliminate Stillwater from the Section 4AAAAAA playoffs on Friday at O’Shaugnessy Stadium in St. Paul. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

Stillwater’s last victory was a 21-7 contest over Cretin-Derham Hall in Week 3 of the season, but the Raiders (7-2) enjoyed a 41-0 payback to end the Ponies’ season at 3-6 on Friday at the U of St. Thomas on a terrific weather night for football.

Raiders running back Blake Banham was the big difference this time as he rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns, giving his team a 27-0 lead at the half.

The game started out OK as the Big Red defense forced the Raiders to punt and then saw junior Joe Freichels intercept a Ricardo Johnson pass in the end zone to keep C-DH scoreless after two possessions. Things got stickier as Freichels’ pick was the highlight of a first half that was dominated by Cretin to the tune of 27-zip, with prospects for a comeback looking slim.

This definitely was Cretin’s night as the Raiders put the kibosh on two Ponies’ drives and added another TD in the third quarter.

The victors gave special attention to Zach Knox in holding him to 97 yards, but he was still the Ponies’ lightning rod on offense.

The crowd was a lot smaller than the first time, but it was good to see so many former Big Red football players there.

I have to admit that the 2013 Ponies gave us some exciting football that has me looking forward to next fall. We have our leading rusher (Knox) and receiver (Matt Anderson) back in the fold.

Go Ponies!

 

Thole Poll

Here is the latest edition of the prep football Thole Poll.

1. Eden Prairie (8-0); 2. Maple Grove (9-0); 3. Rosemount (8-1); 4. East Ridge (8-1); 5. Osseo (8-1); 6. Wayzata (6-2); 7. Cretin (7-2); 8. Roseville (7-2); 9. Hutchinson (9-0); 10, tie, Owatonna (9-0), Totino-Grace (7-2) and Brainerd (9-0).

 

Boys CC headed to state

The Ponies boys’ cross country team of coach Scott Christensen flattened the Section 4AA competition with a terrific score of 24 points as the runner-up from White Bear Lake was far back with 92 points among the 14 teams competing last week.

Junior Bailey Hesse-Withbroe placed second (16:02.6), sophomore Eli Krahn was third (16:08.6), junior Allen-Michael Burback was fourth (16:11.6), Tayler Aarness was seventh (16:24.9) and soph Sam Hanson was eighth (16:38.1).

Bailey Hesse-Withbroe finished second overall to lead the Ponies to a convincing victory in last week’s Section 4AA meet.

Bailey Hesse-Withbroe finished second overall to lead the Ponies to a convincing victory in last week’s Section 4AA meet.

After watching Christensen and company win 20 section titles since 1981, that puts them in the amazing category. Wayzata better keep an eye out for the Red and Black at St. Olaf on Nov. 2.

Junior Abby Lange placed 10th (15:09.7) to advance to this weekend’s girls cross country showdown at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The Ponies of girls’ coach Dawn Podolske placed fourth behind East Ridge, Roseville and White Bear Lake in the 13-team field at the Section 4AA meet.

 

Go, go Gophers

I couldn’t believe my eyes while freezing at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday when the Gold ripped the Huskers 34-23. The Hoosiers are next with Penn State on deck.

 

In the huddle

Junior Sophia Bisch was listed as a Prep Athlete of the Week by the Pioneer Press on Oct. 22. Bisch placed first in the 200 individual medley in 2:06.22 and second in the 100 breastroke as the Ponies placed second to Wayzata in the Class AA state True Team swimming and diving state meet on Oct. 19. Bisch also joined relay teams that placed second in the 200 freestyle and third in the 200 medley. Several Ponies are listed on the state honor roll, including Bisch in the 50 free (24.15), the 100 breastroke (1:05.84) and 200 individual medley; Mary Knaak in the 200 free (1:54.92) and 500 free (5:09.27); Kylie Burgess in the 500 freestyle (5:02.17); Abby Kunze (58.43) in the 100 backstroke; and Kristin Erf (1:06.30) in the 100 breastroke and in the fly (57.25). Diver Liz Click racked up scoring in six dives of 219.25 and 437.10 for 11 dives…. Midfielder Nathan Purdie was named to the All-State Soccer Team selected by the soccer coaches association. Forward Jared Allan was honorable mention among the Class AA schools…. The Forest Lake High School football team finished the season with an 0-9 mark after Friday’s 55-14 loss to conference champion East Ridge. Forest Lake has a capable coach in Billy Kirch, but the Rangers have yet to taste victory in their last 18 games. I’m sure the streak is actually longer because they had to lose their last game during the 2011 season. I think Kirch will get them back on track…. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy…. Andy Faust is playing Junior A hockey for the Connecticut Oilers of the Eastern Hockey League. Andy is the grandson of Stillwater’s Marty and Pat Rossini, where he learned to skate on the Rossini backyard ice. Older brother Willie Faust, who plays for the Army team at West Point, and younger brother Max, 15, got their hockey starts on a pond near their grandparents’ home. Grandfather Marty, a former assistant Ponies hockey coach, kept that pond shoveled for the Faust grandchildren to cut their skating teeth on and it paid off. The boys’ dad, Scott Faust, a former Hill-Murray and St. Mary’s standout and also a former Ponies assistant coach, is married to Rossini’s daughter Sue ’83. The Faust brothers were standouts for Hill-Murray High School and, before I forget, the boys’ uncle Tim Rossini ’84 was an ace hockey and football player for SAHS. Talk about a hockey family…. Sorry to 10-31 spo-gswim Burgess RO colsee the passing Vicki (Kisch) Meister at age 51. She is a former Ponies white letter cheerleader from the Class of 1980. She was a classy lady…. Stillwater’s Savannah Johnson lost to Taylor Tarrolly of St. Cloud Tech 6-2, 6-2 in the state tournament last Thursday at the U of M. The talented sophomore lost in straight sets to Lori Ahula of Lakeville North in the consolation round. Johnson also played in the state tourney last year with Aliza Deming in the doubles competition and also helped the Ponies to the consolation title in the team tournament…. Do your best and don’t sweat the rest…. finis

 

Today’s rumination #640

Supreme patience is the ability to count down before blasting off.

• • • •

George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: georgethole@gmail.com

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