RC falls in close game to Golden Bears
The Rush City football team ended its 2013 season with a 14-6 loss to Eveleth-Gilbert in the opening round of Section 7AA play on Oct. 22.
With the Golden Bears ahead off a touchdown early in the game, sophomore Ben Wolf came up with an interception for the Tigers after Eveleth-Gilbert had driven downfield into the red zone for a possible second score.
Rush City converted on the Golden Bear turnover. Senior quarterback Brandon Koehnle threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to junior Cole Anderson to put the Tigers on the board. The home team would miss the extra point to trail 7-6 at the end of the first quarter.
“That was a huge swing in momentum for us,” head coach Paul Kirby said. “We went from them scoring again to us scoring to keep it a tight game.”
The Tigers held the Golden Bears scoreless through the next two quarters until Eveleth-Gilbert scored off an 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Despite scoring chances, Rush City was unable to respond.
“We should be able to win games like that when we hold them to two touchdowns,” Kirby said. “We expect to move better offensively, but we just weren’t able to do it—you can’t rely solely on defense.”
This season, the Tigers scored 102 points in nine games, averaging 11.3 points per game. Defensively, they gave up 192 points, averaging 21.3 points lost to opponents. In comparison to the Golden Bears, Eveleth-Gilbert averaged 18.3 points scored per game and gave up an average of 37.7 points per game this fall.
Rush City went 2-7 with wins over East Central and Hinckley-Finlayson.
A numbers game
Despite not putting up enough numbers on offense, Kirby said he has depth in offensive positions. The head coach calls his running backs a committee rather than individuals.
Senior Dan Johnson led the rushing game with 372 yards this season, followed by Koehnle (282), sophomore Coltin Malchow (259) and senior Danny Myers (239).
Anderson led the receivers with 276 yards in just six catches for three touchdowns. Koehnle threw four touchdown passes and converted three of four two-point conversions in his senior season after starting on varsity for three years.
“Those stats don’t lie,” Kirby said. “Looking ahead we need to continue to spread the ball out and I think I’d better be looking to pass to Cole a little more. Averaging 46 yards a catch is pretty impressive.”
Kirby was quick to commend the defense for the 2013 season, which showed improvement by giving up 41 less points than in 2012.
“Defense in Rush City has been strong for a while,” he said. “We might not have the biggest guys, but they play with a lot of heart.”
The Tigers will graduate eight seniors from their 38-man squad.
“This group of seniors have been with me since I was first named head coach here,” Kirby said. “I’ve seen them grow from knuckle-headed boys in responsible young adults, so it’s a special bunch of kids to me.”