Pirates bury Bruce in 8-man opener
No matter how many men are on the field, successfully running the ball on offense and stopping the run on defense will lead to success on a high school football field.
The Gilman Pirates demonstrated that in their eight-player debut Friday, stifling Bruce’s offense and running at will when they had the ball in a 53-0 blowout win in front of their limited home crowd.
Gilman scored three touchdowns in each of the first two periods to build a 41-0 halftime lead. Defensively, the Pirates limited Bruce to just two first downs and made sure the game was played on the Red Raiders’ side of the field. The offense took advantage of that field position, scoring touchdowns on eight drives that needed a maximum of six plays.
Bruce was only able to muster 15 rushing yards on 26 attempts. The Red Raiders completed two of 10 passes for 29 yards.
“Overall our kids did a good job at the line of scrimmage and took care of things there,” Gilman head coach Robin Rosemeyer said. “We made plays, we tackled well in space. We just gave up the two first downs. When you give up two first downs, that’s some nice work. The guys did a good job just reading their keys without overpenetrating and didn’t allow a lot of running alleys.”
Linebacker Julian Krizan led the defense with a monster outing that included 19 total tackles and five sacks. Linebacker Grady Kroeplin had nine tackles and linemen Brayden Boie and Braeden Person had six tackles apiece.
“When your defensive linemen –– Brayden and Braeden are at d-end and nose guard –– are making six tackles, that’s a good thing,” Rosemeyer said. “That means they’re getting in their gap and they’re making a play.”
Bruce did get a first down on two running plays to start the game, but that drive quickly stalled with a Zack Marion sack, a 1-yard loss and then an incomplete pass forced by a heavy pass rush. A short punt gave Gilman the ball just 26 yards away from the goal line and, after an offside penalty, Krizan, Pirates score six first-half touchdowns in blowout win over Bruce
the quarterback, rolled to his left and basically needed just one block to stroll 21 yards for the Pirates’ first touchdown of 2020 on their first offensive play. Kade Kroeplin ran in the two-point try for an 8-0 just 2:30 into the contest.
The Pirates forced a three-and-out and took over at Bruce’s 47. A 16-yard pass from Krizan to Boie set up Boie’s 6-yard touchdown run that pushed the lead to 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
Another disastrous possession for Bruce with a penalty and three straight tackles for losses pinned the Raiders inside their five. Kroeplin returned the punt 30 yards for a touchdown, but a penalty nullified it. Still, a 16-yard run by Kroeplin led to Krizan’s 9-yard touchdown run that capped the short two-play, 25-yard drive.
The Red Raiders got their second and final first down of the game on a 29-yard pass from quarterback Dom Tinker to Jake Thome. But their drive stalled on the next series of downs when Tinker was dropped for a 4-yard loss on fourth and seven.
The Pirates covered 44 yards in six plays, highlighted by a 26-yard Krizan run. The junior quarterback’s 2-yard touchdown run and Kroeplin’s two-point run made it 28-0 with 10:21 still left in the first half.
Andrew Hecker got the ball right back for the offense by tipping a pass to himself and intercepting it on the Pirates’ 39. Three plays later, Boie rumbled through several attempted tackles and scored from 54 yards out. He kicked the extra point to make it 35-0.
Gilman fumbled the ball away on its next possession, but a fourth-down stop gave the Pirates the ball back and a 53yard, five-play drive ended in a 21-yard touchdown run for Bryson Keepers with 3:49 left in the half.
The Pirates recovered an onside kick to start the second half, which was entirely played with a running clock. A 25-yard run by Krizan pushed the ball deep into Bruce territory. Grady Kroeplin finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.
Grady Kroeplin scored Gilman’s last touchdown with a 29-yard run with 9:00 left in the game.
Gilman finished with 396 total yards of offense, 380 of which came on 40 rushing attempts. Boie led the way with 97 yards on just six carries. Grady Kroeplin added 83 yards on eight attempts in the game’s latter stages. Krizan gained 76 yards in eight carries and scored on three of them.
“We did OK blocking, but I thought our backs did a better job just breaking tackles,” Rosemeyer said. “When we didn’t execute well blocking-wise, they did a good job of making that first guy miss. We learned a lot offensively as far as knowing where to go sometimes. Our blocking wasn’t always proper. So we need to shore that up quite a bit so we can execute a little better. When we knew where we were going, the plays were great. When we didn’t, we relied on those guys to make a guy miss, and a lot of times they did, which was nice. But we can’t become dependent on that.”
Kade Kroeplin had 62 yards with his eight carries. Keepers totaled 37 yards in just three attempts. Freshman Troy Duellman had 25 yards on seven carries.
The Pirates didn’t need to throw with their running success. Krizan finished one for two.
Gilman should get a much more difficult test Friday when it visits Phillips for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Loggers won their opener 42-14 at New Auburn and are coming off an 8-1 season in 2019.