Friday night homecoming game against Prescott. The next Ellsworth possession began with a bang, as senior running back Max Grand bounced a run to the outside and showed off his speed, sprinting into …
Friday night homecoming game against Prescott.
The next Ellsworth possession began with a bang, as senior running back Max Grand bounced a run to the outside and showed off his speed, sprinting into the endzone for a 55-yard touchdown run. An unsuccessful twopoint conversion attempt by Ellsworth meant that Prescott retained the lead 7-6.
After getting a defensive stop and getting the ball back, Ellsworth again went down the field and punched in another touchdown. The score again came from Grand, who was getting almost anything that he wanted as he navigated behind his offensive line. That Panthers drive was capped off by a short touchdown run by Grand to give Ellsworth a 127 lead.
With the game still hanging in the balance, Prescott got the ball back with just under three minutes remaining in the first half. Trying to make something happen on offense, Cardinals quarterback Stanton tried to fit a pass in a tight window. The route was jumped by Panthers defensive back Jack Janke and the pass was intercepted as he was in full stride. Janke went streaking down the sideline and scored on a pick-six to give the Panthers an 18-7 lead.
After that, Prescott never recovered. Ellsworth went on to score two more touchdowns in the third quarter to officially seal the game, giving the Panthers a 34-7 win in front of a packed homecoming crowd. After the game, Panthers head coach Rob Heller spoke about the win.
“It’s a big win, we’ve had a big couple of weeks,” Heller said. “Osceola is a tough win up there. These guys are obviously a program on the rise. They’re doing good stuff and they’re athletic. They come out right away and punch one in on us for the second week in a row. Our kids did a great job responding and so did our coaching staff making adjustments.”
Heller spoke about how playing good teams, especially in the Middle Border Conference, can help prepare his team for later in the season when the playoffs begin.
“This is an excellent time of year for us to get this and we got the ball rolling early with some good victories, this will be good for us rolling into the postseason,” Heller said. “Hopefully we can take care of a conference title next week up in Hammond. This was a team victory for us.”
One of the many leaders of the dynamic Ellsworth offense is the aforementioned senior running back Max Grand. In the game, Grand had 154 rushing yards that came from 14 carries. He also scored two touchdowns in the 34-7 victory. After the game, Grand spoke about what makes the Ellsworth offense so dynamic and what he expects from his team this season.
“I think it’s just that we have weapons at every position including offensive line, wide receivers, quarterback, it doesn’t matter, we have weapons at every position,” Grand said. “We execute too. We practice throughout the week and we execute on Fridays and that’s how we get things done.”
There are a lot of seniors on the Panthers roster. Many of those seniors play important positions such as Grand at running back, Janke at quarterback, Ashten Quade at wide receiver, and a whole host of other players playing the offensive and defensive line. If Ellsworth is going to make a deep playoff run, this year is as good as any in recent memory.
“I do feel like this is the year,” Grand said. “Hopefully injuries start to slow down a little bit for us, but other than that, I feel like we’re more than capable of doing something special for sure.”
After the game, Prescott’s coach Hansen also reflected on the game, what went wrong and where the team goes from here.
“Ellsworth is just a really good football team,” Hansen said. “We go down and score and we’ve got momentum and all of a sudden one play later, they hit us, and – we scored seven and they scored the next 34. We just couldn’t get over that hump. Hats off to them, Rob (Heller) does a tremendous job with those guys and they are ranked second in the state for a reason.”
Hansen also spoke about a quick turnaround for the game next week and how the team needs to bounce back and continue improving in the final few weeks of the regular season.
“We’re just going to try to keep getting better every week and we’re going to get two tests,” Hansen said. “We’re a playoff team now, so we need to get better every week and see what happens. I love our kids and I love our group. We’re going to come ready to go and we’re going to grind on Monday.”
In the loss, Prescott drops to 5-2 for the season including a 4-1 record in the Middle Border Conference. The next game for the Cardinals is on Friday at home against Aquinas. As for Ellsworth, the Panthers have a chance to secure the conference championship on Friday, Oct. 8, on the road against Saint Croix Central. Both of those games are slated to begin at 7 p.m.