Fertile-Beltrami Falcons beat Blackduck Drakes for Minnesota Section 6 9-man championship
Falcons’ rush for over 400 yards in win as defense stifles the Drakes in the second half to advance to state quarterfinals.
FARGO — After a close first half, the Fertile-Beltrami Falcons pulled away from the Blackduck Drakes to win the Minnesota Section 6 9-Man Football Championship Thursday afternoon at the Fargodome.
When the teams went into the locker room for halftime, it was a one-possession, six-point game. When the dust settled, the Falcons took the win 46-14.
An aggressive approach was key to establishing second-half momentum, Falcons coach Brian Nelson said.
“The big thing was to wear them down a little bit,” Nelson said. “They’re pretty big and physical with their linebackers and defensive linemen. We just had to keep grinding and going at them. Eventually, some things broke open.”
Fertile-Beltrami's Isaiah Wright scored the game's first touchdown on a two-yard punch at the end of a 13-play, 68-yard drive.
Wright finished the day with 196 yards and three touchdowns, including a 49-yard run in the third quarter and a 58-yard run in the fourth for the team’s final touchdown.
“I thought Isaiah Wright had a monster game for us,” Nelson said. “So did our other running backs, as well.”
The Falcons’ backfield accumulated 409 yards on the ground with Wright, Brayden Werpy, Caiden Swenby, Derek Sorenson, Caleb Sather and Jonah Harstad all contributing.
Defensively, the Falcons fought their way into the Drakes’ backfield with multiple tackles for loss and Wesley Ramberg and Tucker Bolstad teaming up for three sacks.
“It’s been that way all year,” Nelson said. “Tucker Bolstad and Wesley Ramberg — who was hurt, we didn’t know if he was going to be able to play but he toughed it out — and Ryan Van Den Einde, those guys have quite a few sacks this year. I can’t say enough about those guys and our secondary. We rotated in some linebackers today, too. Coach (Craig) Larson does such a great job calling the defense.”
Swenby, Werpy and Swenson also scored touchdowns.
Both of Blackduck touchdowns came in the second quarter, allowing them to take the lead 14-12 momentarily before the Falcons scored for their third time.
The first touchdown was a pitch-pass play from Evan Bilinski to Brennan Kortuem, who threw to an open Bryce Frenzel for a 47-yard score. They had never run the play before and didn’t practice it until Wednesday.
“It’s a good thing just having athletes like we do,” Blackduck coach Danny Hangaard said. “Brennan Kortuem is a really good athlete, Bryce Frenzel is a really good athlete. It’s something that we never ran through the year and we never ran in years past. We practiced it, literally, (Wednesday). But, we have really good athletes who are really smart and able to put that stuff in on the fly.”
Ridge Flatness scored the other Blackduck touchdown on a 28-yard run on the Falcons’ next drive.
The Drakes close out 2022 with an overall record of 8-3, the most successful for the school in over two decades
“Obviously, right now, (the loss) is painful,” Hangaard said. “It’s upsetting and heartbreaking to see a senior class like this go. To see the care and the want-to out of this team was impressive. This team has come a long way. It’s the most wins we’ve had at our school in over 20 years. But, that happens not on accident. The senior class did phenomenal things throughout their career, especially in this past offseason. It’s all thanks to these upperclassmen. I’m just proud of them.”
Before turning around into the Minnesota 9-Man state quarterfinals, the Falcons have one goal: Get healthy.
“We’re very excited but we’re very sick,” said Nelson. “We probably won’t practice (this weekend). We need to get healthy and we need to get our injuries taken care of, too.”
Fertile-Beltrami is 10-0 heading into the state playoffs.