STANTON – Fremont-Mills scored on five consecutive possessions in the first half in a 44-6 rout of Stanton/Essex, Friday, Oct. 25.
The win gave the Knights a perfect 5-0 district record for the season and they will take a five-game winning streak into their first round game in the Class 8-Man playoffs, Friday, Nov. 1 at home against Coon Rapids-Bayard.
The Knights turned the ball over on their first drive, setting Stanton/Essex up in Knight territory. A 14-yard pass advanced the ball to the 12-yard line, but a Colton Hauschild interception three plays later kept the Vikings off the scoreboard.
Two plays later the Knights scored the game’s first points on a 54-yard run by Seth Malcom. Hauschild and James Switzer connected on the two-point play to give Fremont-Mills an 8-0 lead.
The Knights took over on downs at midfield to start their next drive and scored in seven plays. Again, it was Malcom finding the end zone, this time from four yards away. Another two-point pass to Switzer made the score 16-0.
Stanton/Essex again gave the ball up on downs and James Switzer ripped off a 34-yard touchdown run on the first play of the next Knight drive to extend the lead to 22-0 just before the end of the opening quarter.
Hauschild found the end zone on Fremont-Mills’ next drive on a four-yard run. His two-point pass to Eli Owen gave the Knights a 30-0 lead.
The running clock started after the next Knight drive with Malcom scoring on a 70-yard run on fourth down and two. The 36-0 Knight lead held until the halftime break.
Hauschild scored on a 20-yard run on Fremont-Mills’ first drive of the third quarter. The two-point play gave the Knights a 44-0 lead.
The Vikings were able to find the end zone on their next drive with Keygan Day scoring on a 14-yard run to wrap up the scoring with 1:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Knights coach Jeremy Christiansen was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We controlled both lines of scrimmage,” said Christiansen, “which made things easier. We definitely have some things to clean up too. We made some big plays and intercepted three passes. Our defense played fairly well.”
The Knight defense held Stanton/Essex’s big-play offense to 226 yards for the game with Keygan Day passing for 180 and rushing for 32.
Colton Thornburg was Day’s top target with 13 receptions, but the Knights kept him to just 68 yards.
“That’s what we talked about all week,” said Christiansen, “minimizing the big play because that’s what they do. We did fairly well, made them hit the small zones and it was good.”
The Knights rushed for 303 yards, including 191 on 10 carries from Malcom. Viking coach Jeff Grebin said his team was close to a stop a few times, but couldn’t slow down Fremont-Mills’ bruising attack.
“Our execution and tackling has been up and down all year,” said Grebin. “Finding that consistency to put a drive together, especially against Fremont-Mills, is tough.”
While Friday’s game wasn’t an ideal way to end the season, Grebin said the team’s overall growth was tremendous.
“If you see our whole season, it has gotten better,” said Grebin. “It just seems like we’re always so close to hitting on all cylinders and we were hoping to put it together one more time.”
The Vikings wrapped up the first season of Stanton/Essex football at 4-5 overall and 2-3 in Class 8-Man District 7. Grebin said it was awesome to see the two teams and communities work together as one.
“The junior varsity schedule was the biggest thing,” said Grebin. “Everybody got to play a lot of downs, and that growth and skill development will help us down the road. I can’t predict if we’ll be together in the future, but it would be great if we were.”
The program loses five seniors, including Day and Thornburg. Essex’s Caden Henderson was also one of the five, along with William Roberts and Easton Hultman.
Fremont-Mills improved to 6-1 overall and 5-0 in the district. The Knights will play a first round playoff game for the 10th consecutive season. Christiansen said if his team is going to make a deep run in the postseason, it comes down to executing the fundamentals consistently.
“On offense we have to be able to take those small chunks and be patient,” said Christiansen. “Not every play is going to go 60 yards. On defense we have to force teams to be patient as well. We have to run and gather to the football and take advantage when we have opportunities.”
Fremont-Mills’ first round game with Coon Rapids-Bayard will kick off at 7 p.m. in Tabor. A Knight victory would move them into the quarterfinals either at home against East Mills or on the road against Remsen St. Mary’s.