Vikings roll past Tigers in playoff opener

by Matt Kraus
Review Correspondent


ERIC REINEMANN of Howards Grove makes a nice catch on a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Isaac Dirker as two unidentified Valders players defend in Friday’s football playy opener. – Photo by Terry Schaller ERIC REINEMANN of Howards Grove makes a nice catch on a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Isaac Dirker as two unidentified Valders players defend in Friday’s football playy opener. – Photo by Terry Schaller HOWARDS GROVE – Round one of the Division 5 football state playoffs visited Howards Grove Friday night and saw the No. 3- seeded, hometown Tigers match-up with the No. 6-seeded Valders Vikings. In the end, the Vikings earned a 41- 14 win to advance to the second round while the Tigers’ season ended with an 8-2 record.

Valders, 7-3, controlled the game from the opening whistle. Michael Gesese-Eisenpeter sent the opening kickoff to the Tigers’ 1-yard line and the coverage team tackled Tigers’ return man, Kaeden Roethel, at the eight.

The Vikings defense tackled Jack Peterson for a 4-yard loss on the opening play. A heavy pass rush greeted Tigers’ quarterback Isaac Dirker on a second-down pass attempt and the pass was batted down by the defense. The Tigers’ had a chance to continue the drive on a third-down pass, but Dirker’s pass was dropped and HG was forced to punt.

The Tigers punt flew out of bounds at their 31, giving Valders a short field to operate with.

Valders senior, quarterback Kyle Tuma and junior running back Michael Gesese-Eisenpeter combined for 3 rushing yards on first and second down. A dropped pass on third down set up fourth and 6 from the 26.

Fletcher Dallas caught a Tuma pass as he crossed the middle of the field, receiving a block, and Dallas spun to the outside and raced to the end zone for a 33- yard touchdown reception. Gesese Eisenpeter’s kick gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead.

“We did not anticipate they would have a great night throw- ing the ball. Their passing game allowed them to keep drives alive and eventually score,” said Tiger head coach Dave Schmid.

The Tigers responded with an offensive drive from their 33 to the Vikings’ 20 but turned the ball over on downs. It looked as though the Tigers offense came to life with Peterson running for 26 yards. Valders defense committed three penalties for 25 yards to help the Tigers.

Valders spent the remaining 5:21 of the first quarter driving to the Tigers’ 1. Tuma’s 1-yard, TD run on the opening play of the second quarter, gave Valders a 14-0 lead.

The Vikings earned a 21-0 lead on a 6-yard reception by Casey Zipperer, after the Tigers’ were forced to punt after three plays.

Mason Valenstein returned the kickoff 35 yards to the Vikings’ 38. After moving to the Vikings’ 28, the Tigers thought they scored a touchdown on fourth and 7 but Valenstein was ruled out of bounds as he came down from his leaping catch in the end zone.

The Tigers’ defense recovered a Vikings’s fumble two minutes into the second half and effectively moved the ball, finally scoring on a Peterson 19-yard run.

The Tigers’ final score came on 20-yard reception by Eric Reinemann with 5:21 remaining to cut Valders’ lead to 35-14. Making a one-handed catch at the 2, Reinemann dragged two defenders into the end zone.

“We anticipated their blitz. We did not face a high-pressure defense like that all year. It is hard to prepare for that in one week,” said Schmid.

“We worked so hard in the offseason to turn things around and were hoping to still be playing.”


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