East Grand Forks came to Crookston, Minn. Wednesday winless in seven games this season but ready to play. The Green Wave earned their first win in the regular season finale, beating the Crookston Pirates 28-7 at Ed Widseth Field.
"I thought our kids played extremely hard and hard nosed," said Pirate head coach Scott Butt. "I thought we came to play. After the game I told the kids 'the things we mess up in practice are the things that come to haunt you in a game.' When you don't correct them in practice they come back to bite you in the rear end. East Grand Forks came to play and we knew they would be physical. It took us too long to get going offensively."
The biggest concern for the Pirates is the health of many starters who had to leave the game with injuries, including Parker Epema, Jacob Sanchez, Nate Merten and Shad Steer. Starting quarterback Aaron Hollcraft did not play after suffering a knee injury last Friday against Thief River Falls. Lineman Cody Wardner also did not play. Several other Pirates battled illness and took the field.
"We look like a MASH unit right now," said coach Butt. "It's going to be a couple of days until we figure out who is healthy and who is not. We have illness, sickness and injuries right now. We are running the gamot. We'll take the day off tomorrow and rest with a couple of days off of school. Some of the kids want to go watch Frazee play. We'll try to get people healthy. We even have coaches on antibiotics. As a group, we do it all together. It has been an interesting couple of days.
"Nate Merten thought it was a knee-to-knee hit so hopefully it's a bruise," coach Butt continued. "You always want to wait 24 hours. Aaron Hollcraft, we thought was in rough shape and we waited 24 hours and now he is walking normal again. Cody Wardner was more precautionary. I would say there is an 80 to 90 percent chance everyone is back for the playoffs. The first 24 hours is a big sign of how things will happen."
Following a scoreless first quarter, East Grand Forks scored two touchdowns in the second quarter with running back Brady McDonald running in a six-yard touchdown with 7:58 left, and wide receiver Clarke Peterson shedding a tackle after a catch and going 34 yards on a pass from quarterback Trevor Selk with 1:38 left.
The Pirates had eight first downs in the first half but penalties and negative plays stopped the Pirates from getting points.
East Grand Forks added to its lead about three minutes into the third quarter with McDonald punching in a one-yard touchdown for an 18-0 lead.
Page 2 of 2 - The Green Wave went up 20-0 with a second left in the third quarter when a high snap by the Pirates went through the end zone.
East Grand Forks then went up 28-0 five minutes into the fourth quarter when tight end Gilbert Trevino caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Selk and running back Tye Ausmus ran in a two-point conversion.
Crookston got on the board with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter when junior fullback Mike Hajostek rushed in a two-yard touchdown. Junior Joey Koenig then kicked in the extra point.
Junior quarterback Parker Salentine had his best game under center, completing 15-of-24 passes for 155 yards. Senior tight end Parker Epema was his favorite target with eight receptions for 67 yards. Junior wide receiver Ryan Porter caught three passes for 41 yards. Junior Luke Edlund had three receptions for 15 yards, while Koenig had one catch for 32 yards.
"Parker (Salentine) did a lot better job of not rushing and not panicking and letting the game come to him," coach Butt said. "Him and I talked about, some times you have to take a step or two backwards to take a step forward. The weeks off, playing other positions, I think, helped him understand the game better. He definitely has things to get better at, but his decision-making process was better. He threw with confidence."
Senior running back Blake Bergeron recorded 28 yards on nine carries, while Hajostek had nine rushes for 26 yards.
Selk was 7-for-11 passing for 99 yards for the Green Wave. Tanner Seim had four receptions for 55 yards. Ausmus recorded 120 rushing yards on 18 carries.
"We played good defense for the most part," coach Butt said. "Our biggest issue is we have to get ourselves off the field on third and fourth down. Also, at times in the backfield we are getting deeper than the quarterback and that opens up the running lanes."
Both Crookston and East Grand Forks enter the postseason at 1-7. The Green Wave have won the last six meetings between the two rivals, dating back to 2008. The Pirates last beat the Green Wave 30-0 in 2007.
The section brackets will be announced later this week.
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