Irish football team to make first state semifinal appearance


For the first time in school history, the Maple Lake Irish football team will be playing in the state semifinal game. With a 28-10 win over Pine Island, the Irish earned the right to play Minneota/LH at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Metrodome.
Early in the contest, it did not look like that would be the case.
Pine Island's first drive ended with a 51-yard run for an early 7-0 lead. Then they added a 45-yard field goal that hit the cross bar and bounced over to go up 10-0.
The Irish responded with a monster run of their own, when Dusty Strub took a backfield toss 78 yards to pay dirt.
"As soon as he got around the edge, he outran everybody," coach Tim Knudsen said.
So, instead of going into halftime down two scores, the scoreboard read 10-7.
"Only being down three points at halftime, we felt really good," Knudsen said. "We made a few adjustments at halftime in what we wanted to do."
Those adjustments started to pay off early in the second half.
Pine Island kicked off to Maple Lake, who marched down the field and concluded the drive with an 11-yard pitch run by Strub.
"On the ensuing kickoff, he (the Pine Island returner) stumbled and touched his knee down on the one-yard line," Knudsen said. "They got into trouble and had to punt, which gave us a short field."
More information and stats appear in this week's Messenger.