During a coronavirus-shortened season, the Duluth East football team didn’t want to wait any longer to get its offense and defense in gear.
A 27-point loss to Grand Rapids in the Greyhounds’ season opener had left a sour taste in the players’ mouths.
So the offensive line and the backfield took their frustrations out on Duluth Denfeld on Thursday afternoon at Ordean Stadium.
Sophomore Austan Orvedahl rushed for 202 yards on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns in the Greyhounds’ 48-0 rout of their city rivals. He ran in the first score of the game from 7 yards out and added TDs from 27 and 43 yards.
“The blocking was a lot better than last week and I found the hole most every time,” Orvedahl said. “I kept my legs on the ground and drove them forward.”
Overall, East (1-1) ran for 359 yards, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry against an outmatched defense.
“We’re so deficient and young and inexperienced on our defense.” Denfeld coach Erik Lofald said. “Fundamentally, when you don’t make tackles and miss your assignments, this is what happens. Unfortunately when you look at the scoreboard and see 40-plus points put up, that’s not always the story.”
Senior running back Aaron DeBeir added 95 yards on nine attempts, including a 25-yard scoring run in the third quarter. He also caught Dean Hudoba’s lone touchdown pass from 29 yards out on the first play of the second quarter.
“Austin has some gears. He gets a little bit of a seam, finds the green grass, turns it up a notch and is tough to bring down,” East coach Joe Hietala said. “Aaron is shifty and you probably wouldn’t know by looking at him but he’s a load to bring down.”
The running attack was aided by an improved effort from the line.
“Last week against Grand Rapids, our offensive line really struggled getting off the ball and getting into their blocks,” Hietala said of the 41-14 loss. “It was a point of emphasis in practice since then to improve across the front. Our guys played well and I’m proud of the way they played.”
Hudoba backed up Tanek Kittilson against Grand Rapids until replacing an injured Kittilson and throwing two late touchdowns.
Against Denfeld, Hudoba was 7-for-7 for 81 yards — all in the opening half.
“Everything seemed to click,” Hudoba said. “Our offensive line pushed up and found our open spots and drove on that.”
Hudoba hyperextended a knee in the second half but pronounced himself fit by game’s end.
Denfeld (0-2), which lost 36-0 at Hermantown last week, again ran the ball well between the 20s. Senior Keyshawn Beckom gained 119 yards on 23 carries while the rest of the Hunters offense generated a net of 9 yards.
The game was marred by an injury to Denfeld junior Dom Brennan on a fourth-quarter kick return.
Lofald believed helmet-to-helmet contact was to blame on the play, which resulted in a 20-minute delay until Brennan was wheeled off the field into an ambulance.
“We’re trying to teach these kids that you can’t lead (with the crown of your helmet),” Lofald said.
Lofald had not received any word from the hospital immediately after the game but said Brennan was suffering from concussion-like symptoms, though had feeling in all of his extremities.
“You just want to be cautious,” Lofald said.
Hietala was concerned as well.
“I surely hope that young man is OK,” he said. “It’s unfortunate and kind of deflates the whole atmosphere from both teams on the field, the officials and the fans. Everyone’s worried about the well-being of the young man.”
Duluth Denfeld 0-0-0-0—0
Duluth East 7-14-7-20—48
DE — Austan Orvedahl 7 run (Tanek Kittilson kick)
DE — Aaron DeBeir 29 pass from Dean Hudoba (Kittilson kick)
DE — Orvedahl 27 run (Kittilson kick)
DE — DeBeir 25 run (Kittilson kick)
DE — Orvedahl 43 run (Kittilson kick)
DE — Thomas Anderson fumble recovery in end zone (kick blocked)