Barnesville routs rival Hawley in 'Battle for Lee's Paddle'
Barnesville finished the regular season with a 28-12 win over Hawley in the "Battle for Lee's Paddle."
HAWLEY, Minn. — Barnesville wasn’t ready to give up its rivalry trophy with Hawley. The Trojans practiced twice a day this week — before and after school — to prepare for the “Battle for Lee’s Paddle."
On Wednesday night, they made sure the paddle stayed in Barnesville.
The Trojans dominated on both sides of the ball in a 28-12 win over the Nuggets at Dale Skallerud Athletic Complex in Hawley on Wednesday. It was the fifth time the teams played for Lee’s Paddle, with the Trojans now winning the last three. The trophy is in honor of Lee Eklund, a longtime Hawley teacher and coach who died from colon cancer in 2017.
“It’s the biggest rivalry we play every year and it's always the most competitive,” Barnesville senior running back Cameron Heng said. “And now that the paddle is there, it just adds more fuel to the fire.”
“We’re not giving it up for a long time,” Heng added.
The teams kicked off in a steady rain with a RealFeel temperature of 36 degrees. With chilly weather throughout the game, the action heated up on the field. The Trojans pulled away after a back-and-forth start to finish the regular season at 6-2 with the 16-point win. Hawley closed out the regular season at 4-4.
“It feels great. The kids played hard,” Barnesville head coach Bryan Strand said. “We lost two games this year by two points. They’re clicking right now at the right time.”
With Wednesday’s win, the No. 7-ranked Trojans enter next week’s playoffs riding a 4-game win streak. The postseason begins next Tuesday with Section 8AA quarterfinals.
“I imagine that we’ll play them again,” Strand said on Hawley. “They’re a very good team and they’re very well-coached. We made enough plays to win.”
The Trojans overcame the tough playing conditions they were dealt early in the game. They controlled the tempo as they amassed 425 yards of total offense, more than 300 more than Hawley.
Hawley went three-and-out in the opening offensive drive. Both teams fumbled on the first play of their next possessions, as elements were a factor early on. The Trojans punted away their second possession after Hawley senior Ethan Magnussen sacked Barnesville quarterback Noah Krause inside the red zone. The Nuggets recovered the punt at the 5-yard line. Sam Burkel punched it in for a 2-yard touchdown run two plays later to put Hawley on the board first.
Barnesville answered right back on a 42-yard touchdown strike from Krause to freshman Braeden Bredman. The teams were knotted at 6 after the first quarter.
“It was really tough the first couple plays, but once we got going, once we got used to it, it was just fine,” Krause said.
The Trojans found the end zone in both of their remaining possessions of the second half on back-to-back long drives. Krause capped an 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run early in the frame. Bredman ran in the 2-point conversion.
After Barnesville’s defense forced Hawley into another 3-and-out, Heng barreled into the end zone from 5 yards out to give the Trojans a 20-6 halftime lead. Heng’s score capped a 13-play drive that went 75 yards.
Heng led Barnesville’s ground attack with 192 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. The Trojans tallied 252 rushing yards Wednesday and had 16 first downs.
“We ran the ball very, very well,” Strand said. “But I thought we played outstanding defense. We really, really shut them down at times. The kids played hard.”
Barnesville’s defense gave up just three first downs Wednesday.
“I thought we just made some mistakes throughout the game and were a little sloppy at times,” Strand said. “The rain didn’t help us at all, we fumbled the ball, which we don’t do a lot.”
The Trojans fumbled on the kick return on the first play of the second half, but quickly made up for it. After forcing a quick turnover on downs, the Trojans found the end zone in their second offensive possession of the half. Krause hit senior tight end Kaden Zenzen for a 24-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. The nine-play touchdown drive put the Trojans up by three scores with less than six minutes to go in the third quarter.
Krause completed 6 of 11 passes for 173 yards and two scores. He also ran for 73 yards on 16 carries.
Joey Aakre hauled in a 60-yard TD reception for Hawley on the ensuing drive a minute later to cut Barnesville’s lead.
Barnesville’s Owen Riddle intercepted a pass by Hawley quarterback Carson Brew late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
B 6 14 8 0—28
H 6 0 6 0—12
H — Burkel 2 run (Burkel kick failed)
B — Bredman 42 pass from Krause (run failed)
B — Krause 2 run (Bredman run)
B — Heng 5 run (pass failed)
B — Zenzen 24 pass from Krause (Bredman run)
H — Aakre 60 yard pass from Brew (run failed)