Schmitz, Jackets pick off Park Rapids
By John George email@example.com While one member of the Schmitz family was honored at Meinhover Field Friday night. Another shined. Throughout the Yellowjackets football home opener, Public address announcer Larry Mollins reminded fans to keep Perh...
By John George
While one member of the Schmitz family was honored at Meinhover Field Friday night. Another shined.
Throughout the Yellowjackets football home opener, Public address announcer Larry Mollins reminded fans to keep Perham grad Lucas Schmitz in their thoughts and prayers as he recovers in San Antonio from wounds suffered in Iraq. Lucas wore No. 65 as a Yellowjacket. This season, all the Jacket players will wear No. 65, with a sticker on their helmet.
On the field, it was Jonnie Schmitz, a cousin of Lucas, who shined. He intercepted three Park Rapids passes as Perham pulled off a 21-7 win to open the season.
Schmitz third pick sparked a Yellowjacket drive that resulted in the go-ahead points.
"It's a team game," Schmitz said. "It takes 11 people to put pressure on the quarterback. We forced him to throw the ball and I was in the right position once again. Good coaching is what we have and I guess it paid off."
Perham started their drive at their own 18 and were to mid-field as the third quarter ended. After pounding the ball into a first and goal, Nick Kiphuth finally dove in the endzone on third down from a yard out with 8:33 left in the game. A two-point conversion pass to Eric Weller gave Perham a 15-7 lead.
"We're going to keep pushing all night," quarterback Marcus Hendrickson said of the 15-play, 81-yard scoring drive. "Our line kept working and we kept giving the ball to Kiphuth and we got in."
On the ensuing kick-off, Park Rapids fumbled on the return. Perham recovered on the Panther 24. Two plays later, Hendrickson hit Mac Stoll for an 11-yard touchdown pass and suddenly, Perham had a 21-7 lead.
Despite struggling at times, the Perham offense, which is learning a new offense, still pilled up 338 yards in total offense. The Jackets are implementing a 'True Triple Treat" option, where they can run outside, run inside or pass out of the same basic formations.
"It's still kind of a learning process," Hendrickson said of the new scheme. "We have so many things we'd like to do. We're working on some new passes. The line is doing some new techniques. We're confident we'll get it all in place."
Defensively, Perham was dominant in their new "3-5" defense. Park Rapids managed just four first downs and 122 total yards. Eighty of those yards came on their 10-play scoring drive in the second quarter, 50 of which came on one long run by Dustin Craig.
"We have a new defensive coach (Mike Jordahl)," Schmitz said. "I think he's a good defensive backs coach and I like this defense. We work on getting good position going for the ball."
The Jacket defense forced a three-and-out on the Panthers first possession, then after a Hendrickson 57-yard TD run gave Perham a 7-0 lead, Schmitz picked off his first pass.
"When I hear 'pass' and 'ball', I try to think of myself as the receiver," Schmitz said. "This time I heard the crowd, I turned around and there it was."
Perham wasn't able to capitalize on that pick, missing a 26-yard field goal attempt on the next drive. Park Rapids tied the game with their next possession.
As the second quarter was coming to an end, a four-yard Jacket punt gave Park Rapids the ball at the Perham 43 with 54 seconds before halftime. Schmitz quickly snuffed out the Panthers hopes, intercepting his second pass on a bomb attempt at the nine, allowing Perham to run out the clock for halftime.
Next week the Jackets will renew the 'Battle of the Bees' rivalry with Frazee. Kick-off at Meinhover Field will be at 7 p.m. The Hornets opened their season last week with a 13-0 win over Bagley.