The Crookston Pirate football team opened its season with a commanding 25-0 victory over Warroad Friday in Warroad. It was the Pirates' third consecutive season-opening win over Warroad.
Senior runningback Blake Bergeron led the Pirates on both sides of the ball, racking up 154 yards on 14 carries with touchdown runs of 53 yards and 14 yards.
"Blake Bergeron had a very good night, not only offensively but defensively," said Pirate head coach Scott Butt. "He ran extremely hard. In the second half things opened up for Blake. Guys would come to tackle him and they would bounce off of him. After he ran hard and ran through some tackles he was able to run away from defenders."
The Pirate defense was stingy, allowing 121 yards of total offense to Warroad, while the Crookston offense had 341 total yards. Crookston also won the takeaway battle, losing just one fumble, while Warroad lost four fumbles and threw one interception.
"Our defense is ahead of our offense at this point," coach Butt said. "When you return eight or nine to that side of the ball you are going to be ahead. We should play good defense the whole year.
"We all ran to the ball," coach Butt continued. "Nobody stood back and watched what was going on. The guys read their keys really well and paid attention to what was going on. Everybody wanted to be where the ball carrier was. Parker Epema had a huge night. He dominated the line of scrimmage and he was in their backfield the whole night. Danny Davidson had a really nice night too."
The Section 8AA rivals were scoreless after the first quarter but the Pirates got on the board with Bergeron's 53-yard touchdown run with 8:22 left in the second quarter. The extra point was blocked.
Then, with just 14 seconds left in the first half, junior quarterback Parker Salentine punched in a one-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed.
In the third quarter, junior runningback Brandt Delage broke loose for a 30-yard touchdown run with 9:37 remaining. The two-point conversion failed as the Pirates led 18-0.
Bergeron added his second touchdown with 25 seconds left in the third quarter with a 14-yard touchdown run followed by a successful extra-point kick by junior Joey Koenig to make it 25-0.
Delage finished with 48 yards rushing on five carries, while junior fullback Mikey Hajostek had 34 yards on seven carries and 38 yards on five receptions. Salentine rushed for 22 yards on eight carries, while junior Luke Edlund had 13 yards on seven carries.
"We want to get them carries too," coach Butt said of Delage, Hajostek and Edlund. "Brandt's numbers don't show it but he had a nice night running the ball. He had a 63-yard touchdown run called back on a block in the back. Mikey Hajostek ran really well from the fullback and Luke Edlund ran hard. We want to get carries and not wear anyone out. Blake is definitely the number one back right now."
Page 2 of 2 - Salentine, who made his first career varsity start, finished 8-for-17 passing for 82 yards. Senior Parker Epema (seven yards), junior Aaron Hollcraft (eight) and junior Ryan Porter (29) each caught one pass.
"Parker's (Salentine) first half was shaky," said coach Butt, who graded his quarterback with a B-. "In the second half Parker grew up an awful lot. I was happy with his play in the seocnd half. He made really good decisions, settled down and played some really good football. It was a tale of two halves for him. In the first half other guys made some mistakes, so this is not just a one man show. Parker threw a couple of balls the only person that would get to it is our wide receiver. He's only going to get better and he has a ton of ability. He's going to lead this team no doubt about it in my mind."
All-in-all, coach Butt and the Pirates were pleased with the way their season started.
"We couldn't ask for a better start," Butt said. "Some things we could have done better. But you never say anything bad about a win. Defensively we played really well. To be 1-0, we are pretty darn excited. It was a very good start to the season. A lot of kids played well and the attitudes were great. The kids were happy for each other when someone else made a play."
The 1-0 Pirates will face Detroit Lakes, who is Class AAAA, Friday, Sept. 6 in Detroit Lakes. The Lakers beat Fargo North 35-20 last Friday.
"We watched them on film last night," coach Butt said. "They play a little bit different defense than Warroad, where it's five on the line and two linebackers. They are big and fast but have some weaknesses that we can exploit. They want to hit you, intimidate you and wear you out. Offensively, they take their big offensive lineman and fire off the ball and they like to get their quarterback and runningbacks to the edge. They also like to throw the deep ball. It's a typical DL football team."
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