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Football: Chargers on a mission after dismantling the Warriors

Brandon-Evansville senior lineman James Strese plants Wheaton's Christian Krump into the ground near the goal line during Tuesday's 60-6 playoff win for the Chargers. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)1 / 6
Brandon-Evansville's Avery Wendt (left) and Taylor Bitzan swarm Wheaton quarterback Nelson Schmidt for a sack during the first half on Tuesday night in Brandon. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)2 / 6
Brandon-Evansville sophomore quarterback Keagan Schiele looks for a receiver against Wheaton on Tuesday. Schiele threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in the Chargers' win. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)3 / 6
Brandon-Evansville senior running back Taylor Bitzan races down the sideline during the Chargers 60-6 win over Wheaton on Tuesday. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)4 / 6
Brandon-Evansville's Trey Bosek shouts out a signal on defense during the first quarter on Tuesday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)5 / 6
Brandon-Evansville senior Jake Hintermeister fends off Wheaton's John Hasbargen on a long run during Tuesday's win over the Warriors. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)6 / 6

The Brandon-Evansville football team is as motivated as ever to accomplish a goal that has been years in the making.

The Chargers want to experience playing at the FargoDome with a section championship on the line. They don’t intend to let anyone stand in their way of that this season, certainly not seventh-seeded Wheaton-Herman-Norcross. The Chargers dominated the Warriors (2-7) in the Section 4, 9-man opener on Tuesday in a 60-6 final.

“We have a goal that’s in front of us,” B-E senior running back Jake Hintermeister said. “We want to get to the FargoDome, and our goal is just to knock down everybody who tries to stop us.”

The Chargers have had that goal in the past with some good teams. Perennial power Verndale was always standing in their way before they reached that point.

This season, both the Pirates (9-0) and Chargers (8-1) have looked like the favorites in this section to meet in Fargo for a championship.

“It can happen this year,” Hintermeister said. “Last couple years, we’ve dropped a game and we had to go up to Verndale on Saturday. This year we didn’t drop a game, and now we have Bertha-Hewitt here playing on our field. You got to play a really good game to get us on our field.”

The Warriors found that out firsthand on Tuesday. Brandon-Evansville got first-quarter touchdown runs from Hintermeister and sophomore quarterback Keagan Schiele. That was the start of a big day for both those players.

Hintermeister had four touchdowns of 5, 85, 35 and 18 yards. The 85-yarder came on a screen pass where he set up his blocking and raced to the end zone for a 22-0 second-quarter lead. The 35-yarder came on a nice pass from Schiele on fourth-and-17.

A year after getting limited touches behind good backs in Taylor Bitzan and McKenon Plaster, Hintermeister has turned himself into a feature back for another dominant offense.

“It wasn’t really my role at the beginning of the year, but (head coach Tim) Pattrin gave me that role on offense. He kind of said, ‘It’s yours. Make it happen.’ Any time the coaches do that with any of us, we just want to do our best with wherever they put us at. Then my line is great. They open up holes that trucks can drive through. Any back can run through that.”

The line dominated both sides of the ball as guys up front defensively pressured Wheaton all night. That same group paved the way for the offense again.

“Chris (Vinson), Avery (Wendt) and James (Strese), they just put the team on their shoulders,” Pattrin said. “They take pride in owning that line of scrimmage. That’s where these late-season games are won when it starts getting cold. Those guys are playing great right now.”

Schiele looks comfortable in this offense, as well. He had a hand in four touchdowns himself against the Warriors, running for one and throwing for three on plays of 85, 35 and 28 yards.

“It’s good for us to have a balance,” Schiele said. “That keeps the defense on its toes. The wide receivers are running their routes hard and getting open. I couldn’t do it without them and the line.”

It might take that kind of offensive balance to keep advancing, especially should the Chargers meet Verndale in the section championship. Schiele and his receivers have shown they can make teams pay for sending too many guys to stop the run.

“We’re going to take what they’re giving us,” Pattrin said. “Wheaton really played a lot of run blitzes and that opened up our screen game and our play-action passing game. Keagan read it well, threw a lot of good passes and the guys went up and got it.”

Pattrin likes the way everything is coming together at the right time for this team. Defensively, the Chargers are allowing just 13.6 points per game.

Pattrin praised the toughness of his linemen and the selflessness of the three running backs in Hintermeister, Taylor Bitzan and Nick Thorstad. That trio is now healthy with Bitzan back in the fold, and it’s showing on the scoreboard. The Chargers have won eight straight, including the last five by outscoring their opponents 264-60.

The last close game they had was on Sept. 22 at Bertha-Hewitt in a 27-20 final. That is the program Brandon-Evansville will see in the section semifinals on Saturday at 6 p.m.

“We need to not only shut down their passing game, but know we can stop their run,” Schiele said. “Don’t let them get anything in their mind that they can stick with us, so we need to shut them out early.”

The first time these two teams met, the Chargers led early before the Bears (6-3) made a close game of it in the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Adam Bauch led that comeback with two passing touchdowns late in the game.

The Chargers held on that night for the win. One more win against the Bears would be one of the biggest in program history as Brandon-Evansville looks to punch its ticket to a section title game.

“We have to match their physicality and our defense has to continue shutting down their running game,” Pattrin said. “We think we fixed the miscues we had that allowed them to get back into the game, so we look for a big performance all around on Saturday.”

B-E      14 24 16 6 - 60

WHN     0 0 0 6

SCORING - FIRST PERIOD - B-E - Jake Hintermeister - 5-yard run; B-E - defensive safety; B-E - Keagan Schiele - 4-yard run

SECOND PERIOD - B-E - Schiele 85-yard pass to Hintermeister; Trey Bosek two-point conversion run; B-E - Schiele 35-yard pass to Hintermeister; Taylor Bitzan two-point conversion; B-E - Schiele 28-yard pass to Bosek; Taylor Bitzan two-point conversion

THIRD PERIOD - Hintermeister 18-yard run; Hintermeister two-point conversion; B-E - Nick Thorstad 2-yard run; Thorstad two-point conversion

FOURTH QUARTER - B-E - Cade Carlson 8-yard run; WHN - Ben Findlay 42-yard run

TOTALS - B-E - Total offense - 432; Penalties - 3-25; Turnovers - 0; First downs - 22; WHN - Total yards - 94; Penalties - 5-40; First downs - 4; Turnovers - 0

B-E OFFENSE - Passing - Keagan Schiele - 5-9, 181 yards, 3 TD; Receiving - Jake Hintermeister - 2-120, 2 TD; Darrin Wibstad - 1-38; Trey Bosek - 1-28; Taylor Bitzan - 1-(-5); Rushing - Rushing - Hintermeister - 9-86, 2 TD; Taylor Bitzan - 10-84; Cade Carlson - 12-48, TD; Trent Landowski - 2-12; Nick Thorstad - 3-9, TD; Schiele - 6-7, TD; James Strese - 1-3; Avery Wendt - 1-2

B-E DEFENSE - Marshall Riedel - 4.5 tackles; Tanner Bitzan - 4 tackles, 4 TFL; Colton Sherman - 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL; Taylor Bitzan - 2.5 tackles, 0.5 sack, 1 TFL; Darrin Wibstad - 2.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL; Landowski - 2.5 tackles; Wendt - 2 tackles, 0.5 sack; Sam Fuller - 2 tackles; Brandon Merritt - 2 tackles; Trey Bosek - 1.5 tackles; Chris Vinson - 1.5 tackles, 1 TFL; Carlson - 1 tackle; Nick Thorstad - 1 tackle; Strese - 1 tackle; Andrew Johnson - 1 tackle; Jesse Perleberg - 1 tackle; Brian Lauthen - 1 tackle; Logan Thompson - 0.5 tackle; Tony Schaffran - 0.5 tackle; Luke Moore - 0.5 tackle; Kyle Schaffran - 0.5 tackle

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

(320) 763-1229
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