RC football falls on the road in back-and-forth battle
The Tiger football team traveled to Crosby-Ironton Friday for a deciding matchup with the result determining the second seed in Section XXXX.
Both squads entered the game at 2-4 overall, with the Rangers having the upper hand in section play at 2-0, while Rush City sat at 1-0. Crosby-Ironton came out on top at 16-6, but Rush City made them earn it, according to head coach Paul Kirby.
“This was a good test for us and it was a really tight game,” Kirby said. “I’m pleased with our effort, but not with the outcome.”
The Tigers held Crosby-Ironton scoreless until giving up the ball on a fumble in the second half to put the Rangers within the Rush City 10-yard line, where all-conference and two-time all-area wide receiver Daniel Hudrlick would find the end zone. The Rangers converted a two-point attempt to take a 8-0 lead with a minute remaining in the third quarter.
Rush City responded with a score of its own to start the fourth quarter.
At first and goal at the five-yard line, senior Dan Johnson pounded his way across the goal line with a fullback dive to put six points up for the Tigers. The Rangers defensive line batted away Rush City’s two-point conversion pass, keeping the score at 8-6.
Crosby-Ironton sealed its home win minutes later when the 6’3” 200-pound Hudrlick scored again for the Rangers, followed by another successful two-point conversion.
Head coach Paul Kirby said he was proud of the way his boys fought against the physical Ranger team, of which former Tiger head coach, Greg Hills, is the defensive coordinator.
“Coach Hills had coached some of the guys on our team now and had nothing but compliments for our team, so that was pretty cool,” Kirby said.
The Tigers’ biggest lineman weighs in at 210 pounds, while Crosby Ironton’s biggest presence stands at 6’7” and 340 pounds, followed by another 340-pounder and three more in the upper-200’s.
“Those were some big opponents on the other side of the field, but our guys weren’t intimidated,” Kirby said. “We played our Rush City brand of hard-hitting football.”
The road loss puts the Tigers at 2-5 overall and 1-1 in Section 7AA. Kirby is hoping to defeat a 4-3 Esko team on the road this week to boost Rush City’s chances of clinching the third section seed, which would mean a home game in the first round of post-season play.
Also in contention for a home game is Mesabi East, which is 3-4 overall and 0-1 in section play. The Giants will face section opponent Eveleth Gilbert, which is 1-6 this fall.
Due to a Education Minnesota Professional Conference break Oct. 17-18, the Tigers travel to Esko for a 6 p.m. game Wednesday, Oct. 16. Despite the short week, Kirby is confident his squad will be prepared to take on the Eskomos.
“The coaches have been watching game tape all weekend so our guys just need to study that film and be ready for a quick turnaround,” Kirby said. “At this point in the season, we aren’t really implementing anything new—we’re just trying to perfect what we have and continue to focus on being aggressive.”