Pioneers post 7-point football win over Sibley

As football action moved into the second week for area prep athletes, competition has increased and rivals are battling for the lead.

Hill-Murray came home following a road trip win, 21-14 over Fargo North, to host Classic Suburban Conference rival Sibley. The Pioneers matched their opening victory over the Spartans with an identical score over the Sibley Warriors.

In other CSC action, the Polars traveled to meet the South St. Paul Packers and left the field short of a victory. South St. Paul earned its second win of the young season with a 26-19 score over the Polars.

Tartan played its first home game Sept. 10 following a 46-26 loss at the hands of the Mahtomedi Zephyrs. The Titans came back to face non-conference rival North Branch and delivered a 21-14 triumph to appease their fans.

Hill-Murray 21 - Sibley 14
In the near rainy -- but warm -- mist on Sept. 10, the Hill-Murray Pioneers hosted the Sibley Warriors.

The weather did not hinder the enthusiasm of the crowd or the athletes on the field.

"Our defense stepped up tonight," said Hill-Murray head coach Vince Conway. "Tonight we bent a little but we didn't break," he said. "Our defensive line is all new this year ... we've also got some new linebackers who are working hard to improve. We played a 'bending' game but we hung in there and came out on top. It is a year of baby steps for us, but we're tip-toeing in the right direction."

Conway said senior linebacker Bobby Bruski was the defensive leader who rallied the Pioneers at crucial times in the game.

Senior quarterback Rob Daul was the leader for the Hill-Murray offense.

"This is our first win at home," Daul said. "It feels good. It's fun to play when we throw a lot. This was just a fun game."

Daul hit on 15 of 30 attempts, picked up 187 yards, and threw the ball for two touchdowns. He also kept the ball for a TD on a one-yard plunge. Sibley had one interception.

Daul's favorite target on the Warriors was Jimmy Remke, he said. Remke, a senior wide receiver, pulled down eight passes for 115 yards and one touchdown.

The Warriors received the opening kickoff and picked up a first down. They moved to the Hill-Murray 40-yard line when Pioneers defensive back Matthew Brushat made a diving interception.

The Pioneers capped off a seven play, 60-yard march when Daul hit Ben Martynec on a 13 yard aerial for six points.

Dylan Gonzalez booted the point after and with 3:45 gone in the first quarter the Pioneers were on top 7-0.

Play moved into the second quarter and the teams traded possession a couple times until the Warriors took over at the Hill-Murray 45.

It took Sibley three minutes and eight plays before Blake LaFontaine -- behind some good blocking -- broke through and raced the final nine yards up the middle for the score with 1:32 remaining in the first half.

The try for the extra point failed when the Pioneers' Dominic Schneider crashed through the line and blocked the attempt.

The Pioneers held on their one point lead until the next kickoff. Sibley's Michael Alada gathered in the ball and raced 55 yards through the defense until he was caught from behind at the Sibley 30 yard line.

A couple of 5-yard penalties hurt the Pioneers but Gonzalez helped the team bounce back on an 11-yard carry before Daul found Remke on a 23-yard TD strike.

Gonzalez booted the PAT and suddenly -- with 41 seconds remaining in the first stanza -- the Pioneers moved to a 14-6 leeway.

The Warriors mounted a drive that was interrupted when the Pioneers' Ryan Holler leaped in front of a pass by Sibley quarterback Dante Grant.

Later in the third, the Warriors mounted a drive that moved into the fourth quarter. The Sibley thrust ended in the Hill-Murray end zone when Grant hit Tyrell Martin from 10-yards out for six more points that put the Warriors within two at 14-12.

The 2-point difference was erased when Grant threw a pass to Michael Sparish for a 2-point conversion. With 7:24 remaining the score was level at 14-14.

The Pioneers took the ensuing kickoff and began a march from their 36-yard line. Hill-Murray scored after seven plays for their third TD of the contest.

On the drive, Martynec ran four times for 25 yards and Remke caught a pass for 26 yards.

The final yard was gained on a Hill-Murray line surge that carried Daul in for the TD. Gonzalez booted the PAT and Hill-Murray was on top by 21-14.

The Warriors mounted a drive deep into the Pioneers' territory in the final minute of play. They moved 15 yards closer to the Hill-Murray 35 after a penalty.

With a fourth down and two at the Hill-Murray 14, Bruski broke through and made his most memorable stop of the game. Hill-Murray regained control of the ball with precious time remaining and held on for the 21-14 win.

South St. Paul 26 - North 19
The North Polars visited the highly-touted South St. Paul Packers Sept. 10 and left with a 7-point deficit. The loss moved the Polars to 0-2 on the season and South St. Paul to 2-0.

Turnovers again thwarted the Polars' hopes as they gave the ball up four times -- three fumbles and one interception.

South St. Paul was content to grind out the game on the ground as they threw the ball only three times and made no passing yards.

North on the other hand -- quarterback Matt Ekman -- passed the ball 18 times and completed 11 for a total of 172 yards.

South St. Paul junior running back Sam Sura had the highest rushing total for the game. The grinder gained 219 yards on 31 carries and averaged 7.1 yards. Sura also scored a touchdown on a 72-yard break-a-way.

Harrison Rund also carried the ball for the Packers and gained 68 yards on 12 carries. The junior athlete scored two touchdowns to aid the South St. Paul cause.

The Polars' Rex Johnson picked up 109 yards on 13 carries for an average of 8.3 yards per carry.

The Packers were the first to change the number on the scoreboard when Steven Burciaga picked up a North fumble and rumbled 20 yards in to score with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter. The PAT boot failed and the Packers owned a 6-0 margin.

Just nine seconds into the second quarter, a North fumble was recovered by Eric Hagert and the Packers had the ball at the Polars' 19.

Rund went in from 13 yards out after two plays. Again the point-after attempt failed and the Packers led 12-0.

A North possession bogged down and South St. Paul -- following a 15 yard penalty -- began at their own 30. It took them five plays -- an 18-yard run by Sura and three runs Rund for a TD. South St. Paul mounted the score to 19-0 with an extra point by Kyle Burke.

The Polars took the ensuing kickoff and began at their 44-yard line. The Polars were into pay dirt after seven plays over just 2 minutes. The extra point by Jake Stafford made the score 19-7.

On the North drive, Ekman passed six times for 48 yards. The final was a 27-yard strike to Jake Larson for the TD.

The Polars kicked off to begin the second half. South St. Paul began at their 22-yard line.

Sura broke through the line and left all his competition behind as he sped 72 yards for the score.

Burke booted the PAT and the Packers were on top by 26-7 in the third.

North took the kickoff and, with a 50-yard return by Rex Johnson, started at the Packers' 36. Ekman made a one-yard plunge into the South St. Paul end zone after nine plays. The PAT didn't go through and the score remained at 26-13.

South St. Paul went three and out on their next possession and the Polars took the punt back to the Packers 42.

Ekman rushed the ball a couple of times. He then hit Joe Cicchese for a 22-yard gain and finished the 4-play, 58 yard drive with a 22 yard aerial to Johnson for a score with 2:19 remaining in the game. The PAT boot missed and the final 26-19 was posted on the scoreboard.

Tartan 21 - North Branch 14
The Tartan Titans rebounded from an opening 46-26 loss to Mahtomedi by hosting non-conference opponent North Branch.

Tartan put a winning 21-14 total on the scoreboard to move their overall record to 1-1.

Next week, the Hill-Murray Pioneers host the Richfield Spartans while North will return home for a huge District 622 battle against arch rival Tartan. North will be hosting their "Homecoming" game.

North will honor the 1970s Polars team who went 10-0 on the season and reigned as champions of the former St. Paul Suburban Conference.

Game are scheduled for 7 p.m.

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