Instead, it was Willmar’s rushing attack that landed the biggest blows. And it was the Cardinals’ defense that kept the Tigers down for good.
Opening the season with last year’s Section 6AAAA champ, Willmar held Delano to 68 rushing yards and kept the Tigers off the board in a convincing 42-0 victory Saturday.
“We came out, we played hard and we did our jobs,” said Willmar linebacker Kaden Streed.
It was the Cardinals’ first shutout since beating Hermantown 44-0 in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals Nov. 9, 2018.
“Defensively, that was pretty impressive,” said Willmar head coach Jon Konold. “Delano’s a heavy run team and we stood our ground. I don’t think they were planning on throwing the ball as much as they did. After the first couple of drives, they were majority pass instead of run.”
The Tigers were limited to 2.6 yards per carry and had just three rushes go for more than 10 yards. Senior running back Robbie Knight, who ran for 98 yards and four touchdowns against Willmar last year, was limited to 13 yards on eight attempts Saturday.
Willmar linebacker Kaden Streed beats a block to run down Delano quarterback Cade Bruett for a sack in Saturday’s Week 1 game at Delano.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
Konold credited his defensive line for not getting pushed around, which helped keep the team from having two-way players in the trenches.
“We didn’t have to rotate guys. We played four defensive linemen and five offensive linemen,” Konold said. “That was key to not wearing down. (Delano) wore down at the end of the second quarter and it started to show.”
With the Tigers becoming one dimensional, the Cardinals capitalized with four sacks and three interceptions. Kaden, who played his first game at linebacker after playing defensive end the last two seasons, finished with nine tackles, two sacks and an interception. Brandt Sunder and LaBlue Moo also had picks for Willmar. Aidan Donelan and Joseph Price each had a sack.
“We knew the run was coming and we knew they kind of killed us on the pass last year,” Kaden said. “We struggled a little bit right away, but once we got it, we played hard and we were ready to go.”
Konold added, “Kaden’s a kid that we’ve been relying on for three years and he never lets you down.”
Although the Tigers’ reputation preceded them, it was Willmar that was the smash-mouth run team Saturday. The Cardinals racked up 353 yards on the ground on 40 attempts.
Junior halfback Michael Price found the end zone from 1, 8 and 1 yard out for Willmar’s first three scores, finishing the afternoon with 109 yards on 14 carries.
“They were coming at us really strong so we just used that against them and beat them to the holes,” Michael Price said. “We really got some good looks and got some good runs in.”
He added, “I got some looks last year (at running back) and this year I’m ready to step up and run.”
Willmar quarterback Alex Schramm (13) tries to pull away from a Delano defender tugging on his jersey during a run in Saturday’s Week 1 game in Delano.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
Michael Price wasn’t even the team’s top rusher. That honor went to junior quarterback Alex Schramm, who had 187 yards on 14 attempts, including a 70-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter. He also threw for 39 yards on 3 of 7 passing.
“It was kind nerve-wracking at first, getting my first start on varsity,” Schramm said. “You find a comfort zone and me and (Price) were doing well. Our O-line was amazing. There were big holes for our running backs and quarterbacks.”
Schram split signal-caller duties with sophomore Jacob Streed, who was 3-for-5 passing for 39 yards while also rushing for 16 yards, including a 3-yard score with 8 minutes, 37 seconds left to play. Streed, the team’s punter, also averted disaster early in the game by recovering an offline snap and booting the ball downfield with his left (non-kicking) foot.
“I struggled early in the game trying to figure out, OK, when do you put a kid in?” Konold said about rotating QBs. “Once we started moving the ball and just rotated them within a series like you would a running back or wide receiver, I thought they were more effective. Alex got a few more snaps than Jacob but Jacob did some nice things.”
Konold continued, “There were multiple times where our two quarterbacks and Michael made somebody miss in the hole. Instead of getting tackled for no gain, they were able to get positive yardage on it.”
Willmar hopes to follow up with another dominant performance back on the road in Week 2 when it plays Sauk Rapids at 5 p.m. Thursday. The Storm lost in Week 1 to Monticello, 34-14.
Willmar (1-0) 7 7 7 21 — 42
Delano (0-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
W – Michael Price 1 run (LaBlue Moo kick)
W – Price 8 run (Moo kick)
W – Price 1 run (Moo kick)
W – Alex Streed 70 run (Moo kick)
W – Jacob Streed 3 run (Moo kick)
W – Simon Radermacher 1 run (Moo kick)
First downs: 16 … Penalties: 7-60 … Rushing (Individual and team): Michael Price 14-109, Alex Schramm 14-187, Luke Trochlil 6-40, Jacob Streed 5-16, Simon Radermacher 1-1. 40-353. … Passing (Individual and team): Schramm 3-7-39-2, J. Streed 3-5-39-1. 6-12-78-3 … Receiving (Individual and team): Will Hisken 1-11, Radermacher 2-24, Jacob Rosendahl 2-35, Brandt Sunder 1-8 … Interceptions: Kaden Streed 1, Sunder 1, LaBlue Moo 1 … Fumble recoveries: None … Tackles: K. Streed 9, Aidan Donelan 5, Cameron Selander 5, Aaron Watland 5 … QB sacks: K. Streed 2, Donelan 1, Joseph Price 1
First downs: 13 … Penalties: 3-20 … Rushing (Individual and team): Robbie Knight 8-13, Cade Bruett 6-28, Adam Brown 3-8, Cole Schmidt 2-(-1), Tate Gallus 7-76. 26-68 … Passing (Individual and team): Bruett 10-20-117-3, Harry Grant 2-5-46-0. 12-25-163-3 … Receiving (Individual and team): Gallus 2-39, Knight 3-35, Levi Farniok 1-9, Trey Longstreet 5-51, Mike Krueger 1-29 … Interceptions: Gallus 1, Longstreet 2 … Fumble recoveries: None … Tackles (solo-assist): N/A … QB sacks: None