Evergreen football team wins homecoming game to improve to 6-1
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
The Evergreen football team honored its predecessors in suitable fashion Friday night in Minong with a 33-0 victory over Turtle Lake.
Northwood-Solon Springs improved to 6-1 in the Small Lakeland Conference with the victory and extended its winning streak to six games.
“It’s a special year, it really is,” said Brian Trettin, Northwood-Solon Springs coach.
Not since 1981 has an Evergreen football team had such success. That year, Northwood went undefeated in conference play to win the Lakeland Conference title. The 1981 Evergreens were the first in school history to kick a field goal, and the team was not scored upon all season in conference play.
The 1981 football team was recognized during halftime of Friday’s game, with many former players back in Minong for the 30th anniversary of their championship season.
On the field, the current Evergreens mimicked their older counterparts by keeping Turtle Lake out of the end zone, but Northwood-Solon Springs did not take control of the game until the second half.
The Evergreens turned the ball over on fumbles three times in the first half to go scoreless through two quarters.
Northwood-Solon Springs quarterback Phil Larson broke away for a 90-yard run to the end zone late in the second quarter, but a blocking penalty brought the ball back to the Evergreen 31 and left the score at 0-0 for halftime.
“It was homecoming, so there were distractions, but that’s no excuse,” said Evergreen senior Josh Malone. “We need to be more focused, come ready to play.”
The Evergreens went 3-and-out on their first series and turned the ball over on a fumble just two plays into their second possession.
A 67-yard drive by Northwood-Solon Springs was again halted by a fumble at the start of the second quarter, and the Evergreens were unable to mount another threat until Larson’s recalled TD run.
“We weren’t playing Northwood Evergreen football,” Malone said. “We were getting five yards a pop, we just weren’t taking care of the ball. As soon as we did that, we took care of business.”
Northwood-Solon Springs also lost one of its senior players in the first half.
Four plays into Turtle Lake’s first drive of the night, Leo Alcantar injured his left knee and had to be helped off the field. He was unable to return.
“The guy’s got a heart the size of Texas,” Trettin said. “I think he’s going to be OK, but we just decided we’re going to win it for our fans and we’re going to win it for Leo.”
To start the third quarter, Northwood-Solon Springs recovered a fumble that set up a 1-yard touchdown run about two minutes into the second half.
Malone came up with the fumble and ran it back to the Turtle Lake 19-yard line before he was taken down.
“I was just following the play, and Phil (Larson) made a great play,” Malone said. “I don’t know if he planned it, but he just tossed it right to me. So all the credit in the world to Phil and everyone for making them (fumble) and doing the job.”
Runs by Malone and Larson quickly put the Evergreens at the 1-yard line, and Larson finished the drive. Gage Harwick kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Turtle Lake was then forced to punt after three plays, and when Northwood regained possession, Larson ran right up the middle for a 70-yard score on the first play.
Larson scored his third touchdown of the game to start the fourth quarter, following one of two interceptions on the night by Austin Meyer.
Meyer snagged an errant pass near midfield with 3:30 to play in the third quarter. The Evergreens then needed 10 plays to score, converting once on fourth down and picking up three first downs during the drive.
Brian Flamang gave the Evergreens a 27-0 lead when he hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Larson with 7:31 left to play, and Chris Olson finished out the scoring with a 34-yard run in the final minutes.
Olson’s run came with Northwood-Solon Springs in a fourth-down situation. The senior picked up the five yards needed for the first down but kept his feet and spun around a defender for an open run to the end zone.
For the game, Larson led the Evergreens with 215 yards rushing on 24 attempts. He had three touchdowns rushing and threw for a fourth. Josh Malone had 62 yards rushing and 14 receiving.
“Phil and Josh are great team players. They are really reaping the benefits, but it has a lot to do with those guys up front,” Trettin said. “If you look at our team as a whole — Gage Harwick, Leo (Alcantar), Jake Dahlberg, Mike Meyer, our O line, our D line — those guys really are playmakers. They open things up.”
Defensively, Malone and Harwick led the Evergreens with 7 ½ and 6 ½ tackles, respectively. Flamang added four tackles, while Tyler Long and Larson both had three.
Picking up interceptions for the Evergreens were Austin Meyer in the second and third quarters and Nick Murray in the fourth quarter.
Turtle Lake was short-handed for the game, with both Tanner Arnold and John Lahti sidelined with injuries. The Lakers finished with 12 first downs and 112 yards of total offense.
The Evergreens play their final conference game this Friday at Siren (5-2, 4-2). Siren has allowed the fewest points per game in the conference while averaging 28 points on offense.
“Siren’s a big team and I know, very respectfully, they’re coming after us,” Trettin said. “We’ve got to get better; we still made mistakes tonight. We’ve got to fix those mistakes, and the only way you do that is by playing disciplined, fundamental football every Friday night.”
Northwood 0 0 14 19 — 33
Turtle Lake 0 0 0 0 — 0
N — Phil Larson 1-yard run (Gage Harwick kick), 9:50.
N — Larson 70-yard run (Harwick kick), 7:26.
N — Larson 3-yard run (Harwick kick), 10:39
N — Larson 31-yard pass to Brian Flamang (kick failed), 7:31.
N — Chris Olson 34-yard run (kick failed), 2:15.
First Downs 16 12
Rushing Yards 341 85
Passing 2-4 6-18
Passing Yards 45 27
Passing: TD-Int 1-0 0-3
Total Offense 386 112
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 2-1