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Prep football: Denfeld gets first win in nearly two years

Rock Ridge’s first four drives ended in turnovers and they committed five in the game, leading to 18 Hunter points.

Duluth Denfeld’s Mace Brooks (12) gets out of the grasp of Rock Ridge’s Jake Rice (51) on his way to the end zone for a second quarter touchdown
Duluth Denfeld’s Mace Brooks (12) gets out of the grasp of Rock Ridge’s Jake Rice (51) on his way to the end zone for a second-quarter touchdown at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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DULUTH — Duluth Denfeld junior Dashaun Moore took the opening kick of of the second half 75 yards for a touchdown, kicking off a disastrous stretch for Rock Ridge Friday at Public Schools Stadium.

With Rock Ridge down 12-0 at halftime, Wolverine quarterback Griffin Dosan was intercepted by Maverick Roduner on Rock Ridge’s first play from scrimmage after the Denfeld kickoff. A few plays later, Denfeld quarterback Mace Brooks scored on a 17-yard run, putting the Wolverines down 25 and setting up an eventual 25-6 win.

Moore caught the kick at full speed about the Hunters' 25-yard line and went nearly untouched into the end zone to give the Hunters an 18-0 lead.

Duluth Denfeld’s Rheace Boles (24) knocks the ball loose from a Rock Ridge player in the second quarter
Duluth Denfeld’s Rheace Boles (24) knocks the ball loose from a Rock Ridge player in the second quarter at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“The player was just too slow to get to the ball,” Moore said. “It was a straight shot down and boom, it was wide open.”

Moore finished with 117 yards rushing on 21 carries and forced fumbles on the Wolverines’ first two drives. In fact, Rock Ridge lost fumbles on each of its first four drives of the game and the first drive that ended without a turnover was because time ran out on the first half.

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“You can only shoot yourself in the foot so many times before it snowballs and the other team has the advantage,” Rock Ridge coach Matt Anderson said. “They did a very good job and it was a well-fought win. Once you get down enough, you can’t claw your way out of everything.

Duluth Denfeld’s Taye Manns (33) hurdles over Rock Ridge’s Griffin Krmpotich (4) for a first quarter gain
Duluth Denfeld’s Taye Manns (33) hurdles over Rock Ridge’s Griffin Krmpotich (4) for a first-quarter gain at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The victory for Denfeld was the first since the Hunters defeated Hibbing 50-20 on Oct. 30, 2020.

The Hunters held a 6-0 lead over Cloquet last week — their first lead since the win over the Bluejackets almost two years ago — but couldn’t hold on for the win that night.

“We didn’t think 12-0 was going to win a game against this team,” Denfeld coach Erik Lofald said. “Especially coming out of the locker room last week and being flat against Cloquet and giving up two touchdowns, we were ready defensively to come out … I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been on the other end of that kick return to start a half. If you’re going to play winning football, you have to have those plays and we haven’t had those plays.”

The Hunters’ assistant coach has worked with the team to increase players’ speed, strength and agility this season.

Brooks finished with 60 yards rushing and two touchdowns and was 15-for-20 for 130 yards and another score.

“We have the athletes to make plays this year,” Lofald said. “I think that’s the big difference with our team this year is we definitely have a Mace, who was able to scramble and make some big throws. We have Deshaun, who can make a guy miss and you saw the kick return — he has elite speed.”

After the loss to Denfeld and another last week to Two Harbors, Anderson said he needs to “refocus” his team going forward.

Rock Ridge’s Ian Mikulich (17) gets brought down by Duluth Denfeld’s Dylan Allen (31) and Maverick Roduner (57) in the second quarter
Rock Ridge’s Ian Mikulich (17) gets brought down by Duluth Denfeld’s Dylan Allen (31) and Maverick Roduner (57) in the second quarter at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“We’ve just got to regroup and go over what we do,” Anderson said. “We’ve got master our stuff, because if we do what we’re supposed to do, those types of things and situations don’t happen and we can control a little bit more than we did tonight.”

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Duluth Denfeld (1-2) will play at Hermantown at 7 p.m. Friday.

Rock Ridge (1-2) will play at North Branch at 7 p.m. Friday.

Rock Ridge 0-0-0-6—6

Duluth Denfeld 6-6-13-0—25

DD — Rheace Boles 11 pass from Mace Brooks (kick failed)

DD — Brooks 8 run (kick failed)

DD — Dashaun Moore 75 kick (kick failed)

DD — Brooks 17 run (Maverick Roduner kick)

DD — Griffin Krmpotich 27 pass from Griffin Dosan (kick failed)

More from Jamey Malcomb
The three coaches graduated from the school in the early 1990s and ended up playing college football together at Valley City State in North Dakota.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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