KINDRED, N.D. — Kindred’s coaches thought the Vikings defense matched up well against No. 2-ranked Central Cass, but they had to execute to see the results they wanted.
Their execution was nearly perfect. The Vikings intercepted four passes and stifled the Central Cass run game on the way to a 37-0 shutout victory in Class 11B South-East football on Friday at Jerlow Field.
“Our defensive coordinator had a great game plan,” Vikings running back and linebacker Trey Heinrich said. “We were changing the coverages every possession, every play. Coach told us we were going to get a goose egg, but we had to grind it out and be physical. We pulled it off.”
Central Cass entered the contest averaging just over 32 points per game, but the Squirrels had no answer for Kindred’s swarming defense. The Vikings held them to 267 yards of offense and outrushed them 300-89.
“We challenged them to be physically dominant up front and I feel like we were,” Kindred coach Matt Crane said. “I feel like we won the line of scrimmage. It was against a great team and it just snowballed a little bit. That’s a team that I have no doubt is going to be making a run at the end of the year. We played a great game tonight, we executed the way that we needed to, and I think we’re going to be a good team, too.”
Kindred defenders Caleb Klabunde, Max McQuillan, Heinrich and Charlie Biewer each snagged an interception. Three of the four takeaways led to points.
Klabunde made a leaping grab on a pass near midfield on Central Cass’ first drive. The Vikings proceeded to drive 54 yards on eight straight runs to take an 8-0 lead. Trey Heinrichs capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge up the middle.
McQuillan made a diving interception deep in Kindred territory in the second quarter. The ensuing drive resulted in a punt.
Heinrich made perhaps the play of the game, undercutting a pass to the flat at the goal line in the third quarter. He got his hands on the ball, denying the touchdown, and sprinted up the left sideline for a 30-yard return before being taken down by his facemask. Heinrich capped the ensuing 55-yard drive with a 1-yard run.
Biewer put the game out of reach with a fourth-quarter interception as the Squirrels were trying to make a late comeback. He intercepted the ball near midfield and returned it 25 yards to the Central Cass 26. Three plays later, Heinrich fumbled into the end zone and tight end Max Opgrand pounced on the loose ball to push the Kindred lead to 30-0.
“The takeaways are huge,” Crane said. “It’s a momentum swing. We focused all year on ball security. We don’t want to turn the ball over and we want to win that turnover battle. It really was a big momentum swing for us. We capitalized when we had the ball and had that extra possession.”
Heinrich rushed 24 times for 133 yards and three touchdowns. Vikings quarterback Max McQuillan rushed six times for 73 yards, including a 36-yarder. Kylan Swenson had a 72-yard rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
All three of Heinrich’s scores came from the 1-yard-line.
“As soon as I get the ball, I don’t care if there’s a hole or not a hole,” the running back said. “I’m just lowering my shoulder and trying to get across the goal line.”
After Kindred scored on its opening drive, neither offense was able to get anything going for the remainder of the first half. Three straight drives in the second quarter ended with three-and-outs. There were six punts and three turnovers in the first half.
Kindred’s offense started clicking after the break. The Vikings had runs of 9, 16, 32 and 10 on a march down the field on their opening drive of the second half and kept it rolling from there. Kindred racked up more than 200 yards on the ground after the break.
“We wanted to get back to pounding the rock,” Crane said. “That’s where it all starts for us. The first drive we were able to do it right at the start of the game and then after that they made some adjustments. At halftime, we had a couple plays up our sleeve that we tried to run to get some momentum.”
CC 0 0 0 0 — 0
K 8 0 7 22 — 37
K — Heinrich 1 run (pass good)
K — Heinrich 1 run (Sunram kick)
K — Heinrich 1 run (Sunram kick)
K — Opgrand fumble recovery (pass good)
K — Swenson 71 run (Sunram kick)