Gothenburg has huge second half at Valentine
Swedes handle Badgers 53-20.
VALENTINE—Gothenburg made high school football look easy in Valentine Friday night despite a crispy field left over from sleet earlier in the day and blowing snow during the game.
The Swede offense made big play after big play in the first half while Gothenburg’s defense held the Badgers to just 20 total yards in the second half for a 53-20 district win.
“We were in control from the opening kickoff,” said Swede coach Craig Haake, “even better control in the second half.”
Gothenburg junior Tannor Mroczek returned Valentine’s opening kickoff 47 yards to set up the first touchdown.
On the Swedes’ third play from scrimmage, Mroczek scored on a 20-yard run and Dillon Gartner kicked the PAT to give Gothenburg an early 7-0 lead.
Gothenburg forced Valentine to punt on the Badgers’ initial possession and then scored five plays later.
Set up by a 60-yard run from Mroczek, Landen Haake ran in the second touchdown from 13 yards out. Gartner missed the PAT kick to put the Swedes up 13-0.
Valentine got on the board before the end of the first period but the Swedes didn’t wait long to broaden the scoring gap again.
On the next series, Mroczek broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run. Gartner missed the PAT kick leaving the Swedes up 19-7 early in the second period.
With a little more than three minutes to play in the first half, Valentine scored again.
“They just wouldn’t go away,” Haake said, “but you expect that from Valentine.”
Gothenburg fouled up the kick return after the Badgers scored and the Swedes were forced to start deep in their own territory at the 12-yard line.
Haake said nine plays later, Mroczek was in the endzone again from 8 yards out. A two-point conversion run by Landen Haake was successful to put Gothenburg up 27-14.
Right before halftime, Valentine scored yet again on a 35-yard pass play. As it turned out, it was the last time the Badgers would see the endzone.
“We really weren’t playing as well as I thought we should have in the first half,” Haake said. “We gave the kids a little reminder at halftime, kind of a wake-up call, that they can’t just go through the motions. You have to play assignment football.”
The second half was all Gothenburg.
While the Swedes did not complete a single pass in the game, they also were never forced to punt earning 508 total yards on the ground.
After Valentine’s first possession of the third quarter went three-and-out, the Swedes scored again.
Set up by a long run from Mroczek to the 20-yard line, Gothenburg ran five plays and scored when Mark Hilderbrand ran in from a couple yards out. A two-point conversion run by Landen Haake gave the Swedes a 35-20 cushion.
On the last drive of the third quarter, Joel Teahon punched it in from 2 yards out. The two-point conversion play failed but Gothenburg had put the game clearly out of reach at 41-20.
The Swedes scored twice more in the final period, once on a fumble recovery and return by Landen Haake.
“We definitely stepped it up defensively in the second half,” the coach said. “Valentine had a hard time getting past the line of scrimmage at all.”
Valentine earned 220 total yards in the first half but was shut down to only 20 yards in the third and fourth periods.
Mroczek finished the night with 273 yards on 15 carries for an average of 18.2 yards per carry.
The school record for rushing yards in a game is held by Matt Pramberg with 298 yards in 1996.
Landen Haake added 188 yards on 25 carries.
With a 5-1 overall record (1-1 in the district), Gothenburg will host Cozad (3-3) on Friday.
Haake said fans can throw records to the wind when Cozad comes to town.
“We always get their best shot,” he said. “They’re good sized with some speed in key positions. We’ll have to play assignment football.”