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Minerva’s gamble pays off in 29-28 win over Poland

By Tom Williams


There was no doubt in Minerva football coach Dale Soles’ mind that his Lions would settle Friday’s Division III shootout against Poland in regulation.

Zach Wade’s 4-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 1:38 remaining sliced Poland’s lead to 28-27. Soles kept his offense on the field, then called timeout to discuss the biggest play of his career as the Lions were chasing their first postseason win.

Tailback Jake Riley took the snap and gave it to Wade who bulled into the end zone for Minerva’s winning points in a 29-28 victory in the Region 11 quarterfinal.

“We didn’t know if we could keep matching them,” Soles said of his decision. “With their line and running game, we didn’t want to keep trying to trade scores with them.”

Poland coach Mark Brungard wasn’t surprised at Soles’ decision.

“We were on our heels a little bit defensively,” said Brungard after the Bulldogs watched the Lions (11-0) march 80 yards on the drive. “They weren’t stopping our offense so it was the right call.”

Soles said he never considered sending Nate Smith out for a conversion kick.

“They were thinking about a play up in the box, we just wanted to get a look and see what they were lining up in,” Soles said of the timeout.

Out of timeouts, the Bulldogs weren’t finished as senior quarterback Colin Reardon led the Bulldogs (7-4) deep into Lions’ territory, hoping to give kicker Connor McFadden a field goal try.

Reardon’s final pass to wide receiver Jimmy Morocco picked up 14 yards to the Minerva 20, but time expired before the Bulldogs could snap the ball.

It was a heartbreaking finish to a fourth quarter that saw Poland execute an 80-yard touchdown and successful on side kick.

In the opening seconds of the final quarter, wide receiver Anthony Marchionda fought off 6-foot-5 defender Kyle Crum to haul in Reardon’s long throw to the Minerva 40 and then raced untouched for a 28-21 lead.

Brungard then rolled the dice with an onside kick.

“Connor does a good job with the kick, I’m pretty confident he’s going to put it where it needs to be,” Brungard said. “Their linemen were giving us quite a shot to get it. They were off the 50 about 4 yards.

“We missed the actual first attempt at the catch, it went over our guy’s head but [Austin Erhardt] jumped in there right before it went out of bounds,” Brungard said. “At that point, I felt really good. We had all the momentum.”

Reardon’s pooch punt pinned the Lions inside the 5 for their next possession. Jerry Lawman’s punt return to the Minerva 22 set up McFadden for a 31-yard field goal try with 5:51 to go. Reardon pulled down a high snap but was unable to turn the laces, resulting in a line-drive kick.

That’s when the Lions surged, marching to the Poland 1 where the Bulldogs stopped them three times.

“Give them credit,” Brungard said. “We had some bad penalties ... they couldn’t stop our run. Really, the only thing that stopped us was penalties.”



Brungard was out coached by Minerva. He is a poor excuse for a midget football coach let alone a high school football coach. His team has nothing to be ashamed of. They fought with great heart, but when you have a coach who is more worried about who may be playing next year and less time worrying about taking time outs when you have a team on their heels, somethings seriously wrong! Pretty much he abandoned a running attack in order to get some experience for players next year instead of utilizing personnel who helped you get to the very spot you were. In the meantime, he doesn't have enough "brains" to hold on to a time out when he truly needed one. Great job coach, and I use the term loosely with Brungard. At least he can tell alumni next year that he has players with playoff experience instead of telling them he has a state championship and building for another. CONGRATULATIONS BULLDOGS on a great season despite your terrible coach. A Disgruntled Fan

posted 4 years, 7 months ago

(1 comment)

Would of been more points on the board for Minerva if the refs would of done there job!!!!!!!!!!!! Minerva boys could not make the plays due to all the holding and illegal activities that were never called which gave an edge to Poland, showing their boys it was ok to play dirty because it did not take long to figure out they were pretty much gonna get away with it. Yes there offense moved down the field but the Lions also were not holding on every play! WTG LIONS great game boys, way to get the job done even with the refs giving them break after break

posted 4 years, 7 months ago

(1 comment)

I agree with LIONFAN , it was insane how much Poland got away with but Minerva still showed the crowd you can play a good game and use morals and still win. Great job boys!

posted 4 years, 7 months ago


In response to the comment that was written about the coaching style of the Poland head coach. I would like to apologize to My brother and nephew that are innocent bystanders as to the content of the comment. I am in south Florida and listened to the game from beginning to end. I have played competitive football at the high school and college levels and know a little bit about the game. My comments came out of frustration for the way in which I believe the game was squandered. By no means Am i commenting on the coach as a person. To tell you the truth I don't even know him. Although I called it as I heard it on wnio 1390, I was also venting at the "sour" taste the 29-28 defeat left in my mouth. Coach no disrespect intended please understand that my brother and nephew knew nothing of the comments. Sincerely, The Same Disgruntled Fan.

posted 4 years, 7 months ago

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