Caledonia takes the 2013 Mud Bowl title, Pitts goes for 278
By Dugan Thomas
Caledonia's linebacker defenders push back Rushford-Peterson's Riley Vitse in the first quarter Friday night.
RUSHFORD, MN - 10/04/2013-10/05/2013
What happens when a fall thunderstorm tries to take away a perfect Friday night of high school football?
You adapt. And that's exactly what the Caledonia and Rushford-Peterson football teams had to do this weekend, because mother nature was taking over.
It all started Friday night in Rushford with the weather storms moving in quickly, as the Trojans received the opening kickoff. They went three-and-out on their first series, then had a short punt to give Caledonia great field position on Rushford-Peterson's own 45-yard line.
A holding penalty on the Warriors set up a third and long that started an incredible two-night performance from Ryan Pitts. If anyone doubted the skill set of Pitts, this game proved that Caledonia has one of the best running backs in all of Minnesota.
Ryan took a handoff to the right, stiff-armed a linebacker as he got through the hole, made a cornerback look silly near the sideline, and took it to the house. A 46-yard run that gave the Warriors a quick 7-0 lead, and let the Trojans know what was coming for the rest of the game.
Rushford-Peterson tried to get it going on the next series with the pass, but Sam Schulte would have none of it. Schulte made a nice read on a third-down play, jumping the route and almost coming up with an interception which caused the Trojans to punt.
With the rain coming down at a good pace, the next offensive series is when it started to get sloppy for the Warriors. Ryan Pitts proved he's human, when a Trojan defender made a nice play to strip the ball out, and Rushford-Peterson recovered at Caledonia's 47-yard line.
The Warriors defense got the ball back quickly though, as Adam Buttell made a quick reaction to a tipped pass by Seth Twite, to come down with an interception and put Caledonia back in business.
A nice pass play to Schulte, and another one of Ryan Pitts' signature tackle breaking runs along the sidelines brought Caledonia into scoring position. Rushford-Peterson took back the momentum though with two consecutive great defensive plays. A big sack of quarterback Mason DeMorett, and a fourth-down pass that was intercepted by the Trojans safety coming over the top of Schulte, to prevent a sure touchdown.
After the rain started to come down to almost a downpour, both teams stalled offensively and couldn't get anything going. They exchanged multiple punts and Caledonia finally found life late in the second quarter.
Trying to make up for his earlier fumble, Ryan Pitts became a running back possessed. I've never seen a player hit his own teammate so hard, as Pitts plowed into the back of Sam Schulte, just trying to muscle through the line of blockers and cut it loose. The next play Ryan ran over a Trojan defender so hard, the collision sounded like a thunderclap in the distance.
So it was quite a coincidence just a few minutes later when the referees saw the real lightning and heard it's thunder, as the weather storms moved in quickly from the south. This put the game into a mandatory 30-minute weather delay at the 1:15 mark of the second quarter. Both team's took nearby shelter, and it sent the fans scrambling to the covered concession stand.
After almost a half-hour of smartphone radar watching, the painful decision was made to call it a night, and resume the game at 7:00 PM Saturday night back in Rushford with Caledonia still leading 7-0.
With Caledonia player Twitter feeds blowing up about Mud Bowl 2013, they arrived in Rushford Saturday night to exactly that. Over four inches of rain was recorded in the Rushford area overnight, and the playing field definitely showed it. The middle of the field was a soggy mud-bog, but a football game had to be finished, and both teams did all they could.
After a quick moving third-quarter that saw punt after punt, it was apparent that both teams couldn't get the proper footing needed to string together an effective offensive series. But finally in the fourth-quarter the Warriors came alive behind their workhorse.
On a huge 4th and 4 play, Caledonia tried the left side with Ryan Pitts, and he delivered. Pitts cut off tackle and hit the sidelines, swatted a defender away with an Adrian Peterson-like move, and marched into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown run to put Caledonia ahead 14-0.
Ryan came to the sidelines drenched in mud, as the Warriors coaching staff just wore him out in this game, to the tune of 39 carries for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns split between two nights of rain soaked madness. I've seen great running backs at Caledonia, a list that includes coach Carl Fruechte, and Karl Klug - but after three years of watching this kid play, Ryan Pitts is starting to cement his name at the top of this list.
Caledonia had two more drives that ended inside Rushford-Peterson's five-yard line with fumbles, but it didn't matter, because the Warriors defense was stellar. They only allowed the Trojans 118 yards of offense the whole game, and Tanner Langen put an exclamation point on it with his second interception of the night, with twenty-four seconds left in the fourth quarter to end it.
The #1 ranked Caledonia Warriors needed two nights to capture their first weather game of the year, but they took home the 2013 Mud Bowl title Saturday night, with a 14-0 hard-fought victory to move to 6-0 on the season.
The Warriors next contest is a home game with a new opponent this season. The (3-3) Hayfield Vikings come to town for a Southern Football Alliance-Blue Division showdown this Friday October 11, at 7:00 PM.
Warriors offensive stars of the game: I obviously talked about Ryan Pitts and his incredible 278-yard rushing performance already, but the unsung heroes are the guys in the trenches that do the dirty work. The offensive line is the deepest I've seen at Caledonia, and the coaches trust all of them at any time during the game. I apologize if I missed anyone, but these are the guys that get it done night after night. Justin Burg, Brody Holter, Blaine Knutson, Case McCormick, Jacob Nielsen, Brandon Tornstrom, Josef Pettit, Mason Ashbacher, and Hunter Hoscheit. The fullbacks and tight ends are tough as nails, and they're included in this group too. Dannie Dunbar, Jacob Cuda, Alex Goetzinger, and West Spier.
Warriors defensive stars of the game: It was great to see Alex Goetzinger come back from last week's ankle injury to lead the defense with 12 tackles against the Trojans. Tanner Langen had two big interceptions that showed off his athleticism. One on the sidelines to cancel a good Rushford-Peterson drive with a nice return, and another he skied in the air to pick off to finish the game. A couple other guys I noticed that were really active Friday and Saturday night - Austin Bauer just seams like he's always in the right place, he's really flashed the last couple games, and Shane Sheehan is getting great penetration with his quickness up front, and registered 7 tackles this weekend. Adam Buttell had another interception and is consistently giving them great field position on his punt returns.
Southern Football Alliance - Blue
Caledonia 7 0 0 7 - 14
Rushford-Peterson 0 0 0 0 - 0
First quarter: C-Ryan Pitts 46 run (Mason Ashbacher kick).
Fourth quarter: C-Pitts 30 run (Ashbacher kick).
Rushing: C-Pitts 39-278, Adam Buttell 6-54; RP-Alex Vix 11-30.
Passing: C-Mason DeMorett 5-14-2-63; RP-Cole Kingsley 0-1-0-0, Jonnie Koenen 4-16-3-68.
Receiving: C-Sam Schulte 3-51; RP-Alex Vix 2-59.
Total Yards: C: 311-63-374; RP: 50-68-118.
Fumbles-lost: C-4-3; RP-0-0.