Both the Hancock and Brandon-Evansville football teams feature many new athletes getting full-time varsity experience this season, but the Owls have more athletes to lean on who were part of one of the best teams in Minnesota’s 9-man class last year.

Senior Matt Thompson was a big reason why Hancock finished second at the Class A state tournament in boys basketball in April. As a 6-foot, 7-inch receiver, he is equally as imposing on the football field, and Thompson and junior quarterback Davin Rose connected for first-half touchdowns of 25 and 11 yards. Hancock never wavered after that on the way to a 30-6 win where Thompson finished with more than 100 yards receiving.

Brandon-Evansville sophomore Logan Haburn pressures Hancock quarterback Davin Rose during the first quarter on Sept. 3, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)
Brandon-Evansville sophomore Logan Haburn pressures Hancock quarterback Davin Rose during the first quarter on Sept. 3, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

“It was tough. We knew we had to get pressure on their quarterback,” B-E head coach Tim Pattrin said. “They had a rookie quarterback, so we sent a lot at him. He did a good job of back pedaling away, and he was able to get the ball up in space. We put some smaller d-backs on (Thompson) and said, ‘You cover him.’ They were there. It’s not like he was running wide open, but he’s going to get his yards.”

Rose is trying to replace standout quarterback Preston Rohloff after Rohloff led the Owls to an undefeated season in 2020 before the playoffs were canceled due to the pandemic.

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Hancock's 6-foot, 7-inch senior receiver Matt Thompson hauls in a pass from quarterback Dalvin Rose in front of Brandon-Evansville's Carter White on Sept. 3, 2021. Thompson had five first-half catches, two of which went for touchdowns as he helped the Owls grab a 14-0 lead at halftime. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)
Hancock's 6-foot, 7-inch senior receiver Matt Thompson hauls in a pass from quarterback Dalvin Rose in front of Brandon-Evansville's Carter White on Sept. 3, 2021. Thompson had five first-half catches, two of which went for touchdowns as he helped the Owls grab a 14-0 lead at halftime. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

Rose threw two interceptions to the Chargers’ Dezmond White and Titus Fuller, but he also made plenty of big throws that helped the Owls build a 22-0 lead through three quarters. He hit Thompson on a nearly perfect pass in stride in the first half that went for more than 40 yards and set up Thompson's second touchdown catch a couple plays later.

Hancock freshman running back Chase Evink also ran in a 15-yard touchdown. Already 6-feet, 4-inches and a powerful runner, Evink looks like a back that Hancock can rely on for years to come.

“Their scheme is very difficult to defend, and when they have the weapons that they do, it’s (a good offense),” Pattrin said. “I think our d-line played better than what it has in the past. They didn’t really run the ball overly well. It’s tough to cover all those receivers, especially on a 9-man team. When you have weapons like that, that’s tough to defend.”

Hancock's Logan Metzger gets a hand on a pass from Brandon-Evansville quarterback Titus Fuller during the Owls' win over the Chargers in the season opener on Sept. 3, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)
Hancock's Logan Metzger gets a hand on a pass from Brandon-Evansville quarterback Titus Fuller during the Owls' win over the Chargers in the season opener on Sept. 3, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

Brandon-Evansville senior quarterback Titus Fuller made his first varsity start under center Friday. He had his arm hit on a pass during the first play of the fourth quarter. The ball had just enough on it to fall into the arms of John Roers. Roers caught the ball near the 5-yard line and dragged a couple defenders across the goal line for an 18-yard touchdown that made it 22-6.

The Chargers needed a stop on the Owls’ next possession if they were going to have a chance at a comeback. It didn’t happen as Rose ran for a 5-yard touchdown and then hit senior Luke Joos for the 2-point conversion to make it 30-6.

“They fought to the end,” Pattrin said of his players. “We have about three-quarters of the team where this is the most varsity experience they’ve had. We’re going through growing pains right now, and they had a couple big plays. I’m proud of the way they fought. They finished runs, they blocked hard. There were little things that with experience we’ll get fixed.”

Brandon-Evansville senior running back Tyler Bitzan looks for an opening against Hancock in the season opener for both teams on Sept. 3, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)
Brandon-Evansville senior running back Tyler Bitzan looks for an opening against Hancock in the season opener for both teams on Sept. 3, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

B-E coaches made some adjustments at halftime after not being able to move the ball much through two quarters. The Chargers had a second touchdown on a long run from sophomore Logan Haburn in the fourth quarter, but it was called back on a penalty.

“The young guys went out and executed (the halftime adjustments), and boom, our offense is clicking again,” Pattrin said. “As long as we learn from the mistakes, we’ll be OK.”

The Chargers will try to progress with this young group as Brandon-Evansville goes on the road for the first time this season on Sept. 10. The Chargers are in Wheaton to play a Warriors team that beat Ortonville 48-16 in their season opener on Friday.

Brandon-Evansville senior center Katrina Buchholz lines up for the snap during the first half against Hancock on Sept. 3, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
Brandon-Evansville senior center Katrina Buchholz lines up for the snap during the first half against Hancock on Sept. 3, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

“We saw them up at the scrimmage,” Pattrin said. “They want to sling the ball around too, so we’re going to see kind of the same type of thing. But they don’t have a 6-7 guy. They got a big, physical running back. It’s Wheaton, so they’re going to be aggressive and physical, and we got to clean things up and be ready to be aggressive and physical back.”

HANCOCK 30, BRANDON-EVANSVILLE 6

SCORING - FIRST QUARTER - Hancock - Davin Rose 25-yard touchdown pass to Matt Thompson; Failed conversion

SECOND QUARTER - Hancock - Rose 11-yard touchdown pass to Thompson; Rose 2-point conversion pass to Thompson

THIRD QUARTER - Hancock - Chase Evink 15-yard touchdown run; Rose 2-point conversion pass to Luke Joos

FOURTH QUARTER - Brandon-Evansville - Titus Fuller 18-yard touchdown pass to John Roers; Failed conversion; Hancock - Davin Rose 5-yard touchdown run; Rose 2-point conversion pass to Luke Joos