Cody Schaefer (1) was able to flip the ball to Justin Erdmann (3) before being tackled by Hayfield's Brady Stevens. Photo by Mary Nelson
By Bruce Huber
It seems unlikely that anyone would have predicted after Triton's opening loss to Byron 42-0 that the Cobras would finish the season 6-2 and land runner-up in the HVL Gold division. That very scenario played out at Wally Hitt Field on Wednesday when the visiting Hayfield Vikings gave Triton all they could handle in a 20-13 Cobra victory.
Triton held the Vikings on downs their first possession and after a Hayfield punt proceeded to drive the ball the length of the field to take the early lead 7-0. Justin Erdmann scampered across from three yards out and Garrett Dahms kicked the extra point. After another solid defensive effort and Viking punt, Cobra signal caller Cody Schaefer led the offense down the field once again with Ayrton Henderson and Erdmann picking up the majority of the yardage. Schafer called his own number just after the quarter break from one yard out to extend the lead to 13-0 after the extra point attempt hit the upright.
That's when Hayfield decided that they needed to make a stand. The Vikings struck on their first play from scrimmage after the Cobra kickoff. The 57 yard Cole Kruger run closed the gap to 13-6 after the extra point snap attempt sailed over the kickers head. It didn't take long for the Vikings to strike again midway through the second quarter on another Kruger run from 11 yards. This time the extra point attempt was good and the score was knotted at halftime.
Injuries plagued Triton as receiver/lineback/punter Alex Hoberg was lost in first half action for the season. Early in the second half quarterback/defensive back Cody Schaeffer met a similar fate and is out for the playoffs as well. Sophomore quarterback Zach Otto took over the helm and with some strong blocking from the offensive line, found a seam that Henderson exploded through with just 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter to give the Cobras a lead they would not relinquish. The 85 yard running touchdown was Triton's longest scoring play of the year.
Fourth quarter action saw both teams moving the football but neither team found the end zone. Henderson led the rushing attack with 171 yards on 18 carries and Erdmann contributed 107 yards on the same number of touches.
Joseph Rislov led the defense with nine tackles and linebackers Evan McNeilus and Bradley Myers each chipped in eight.
Triton opens Section 1A playoff action with a home contest against fifth seeded St. Charles at home on Tuesday. The winner of that contest will travel to number one seed and the number one ranked statewide team Caledonia.