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Ground game propels Blaze to victory over Apple Valley

09/28/2016, 11:00am CDT
By By Mike Shaughnessy

Martens, Olson combine for 325 rushing yards

Burnsville’s effort to inject more discipline into its football team yielded at least one promising result – a 31-21 victory over Apple Valley last Friday at Dick Hanson Field.

It’s a start, Blaze coach Tyler Krebs said.

“We went from five turnovers (in a loss to Lakeville North on Sept. 16) to zero against Apple Valley,” Krebs said. “That was a huge difference in the game. We had nine penalties, which is still too many. There’s a great deal of work to be done.

“We’re staying on the guys, doing grade checks and things like that. We’re looking for them to be accountable all the time, on and off the field. It’s a work in progress.”

The Blaze is 3-1 overall, 2-1 in the East Metro White subdistrict, after its victory over Apple Valley. Burnsville remains in contention for the subdistrict championship, which it shared last year with Lakeville North and Rosemount. Burnsville’s path to the title might be the same this year – win its final four games, then have Rosemount beat Lakeville North. First, however, the Blaze goes on the road to face a dangerous Farmington offense at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.

An 80-yard touchdown run by Steph Olson Jr. on the first play from scrimmage in the second half put the Blaze ahead to stay against Apple Valley. Burnsville gained 337 yards on the ground, with Jackson Martens rushing for 174 yards on 28 carries and Olson getting 151 yards in 15 attempts.

Tre Thomas, who has been part of Burnsville’s running back rotation, sat out the Apple Valley game because of an injury but is expected to be available this week.

“I think we’ll go back to rotating three running backs because Tre, Steph and Jackson are all good defensive players and we need all three of them there, too,” Krebs said.

Quarterback Andrew Hanson scored on a 1-yard run at the end of the first quarter against Apple Valley, tying the game 7-7. Martens scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter to give the Blaze its first lead, but Apple Valley pulled even before halftime on quarterback Noah Sanders’ second touchdown pass of the game.

Olson’s run early in the third quarter put Burnsville back in front. Martens scored on a 55-yard run in the fourth and Jake Boatman kicked a 24-yard field goal with one second remaining.

Apple Valley’s Sanders threw touchdown passes of 67 and 35 yards to Nathan Macho. Sanders also ran for a 9-yard score. Other than the two big receptions by Macho, the Blaze was able to contain the Eagles’ passing offense. Apple Valley receivers other than Macho had six catches for 19 yards.

Still, Krebs was impressed by Sanders. “He’s the best quarterback in our district,” the Burnsville coach said. “He’s a tremendous player. But I thought we played really solid defense except for five or six plays.”

Burnsville sophomore defensive back Marcus Shepley led his team with six tackles and intercepted a pass.

This week, the Blaze goes up against another good quarterback in Farmington senior Kole Hinrichsen, who passed for 301 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 42-28 loss to Lakeville North.

“If Sanders is the No. 1 quarterback in our district, (Hinrichsen) is 1A,” Krebs said.

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