Last season, I interviewed a little-known defensive back, receiver and kick returner from Pierz by the name of Matthias Algarin. At that point, he was known more for his results on the track – he is one of the better sprinters and jumpers in the state – than on the football field. Then the offseason and his senior year happened. Algarin has become one of the best players in the state and showed why during the Pioneers’ last minute, come from behind victory. Pierz’s 22-21 win over Dassel-Cokato gave the Pioneers the 3A championship. Besides Algarin – who else showed out during Saturday’s middle game?
Matthias Algarin – Pierz running back/defensive back/kick returner
Algarin has quick feet in the hole. He made an excellent cut behind a trap block from offensive lineman Robert Schaefer and showed speed down the sidelines. He made a cutback that took him across the field for a big gain. He is a physical runner who can break tackles too. On the game-winning drive, the senior gave the drive a jump start by catching a 22-yard pass down the sidelines. On the next play, he picked up eighteen yards on the ground. Faced with a fourth and one, the Pioneers looked to Algarin again, and he picked up the first down. Inside of a minute to play, our 16th ranked senior caught another twenty-two-yard pass to set up the touchdown he scored two plays later behind Zachary Traut, giving the Pioneers a one-point lead with 38 seconds to play. He also made five tackles and deflected a pass on defense.
Aaron Hayes, Zachary Traut, Tyler Corriveau, Cody Kimman, Robert Schaefer – Pierz offensive line
This group paved the way to over 300 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. In addition to Traut and Schaefer’s key blocks mentioned earlier, Hayes threw the key block on an early fourth and one. Schaefer sprung Michael Leidenfrost for a big gain. Traut sealed the edge on Leidenfrost’s short touchdown run. Defensively, Hayes made eight tackles – including a sack, Traut made five tackles, and Schaefer totaled four tackles.
James Gedde, Logan Kelly, Gaige Webb, Jackson Martin, Eli Tomanen, Grant Grochow (tight end) – Dassel-Cokato offensive line
Like the Pioneers’ on the other sidelines, the Chargers’ offensive line made their offense go. Even in a loss, they blocked for even more rushing yards than the winning Pioneers’ offensive line. Some of the individual plays that stood out to me included Kelly and Martin opening a big hole to spring Eli Gillman for a 71-yard touchdown run on the games’ first possession. Later, Kelly completed a classic pancake block. Then, Gedde buried his man as Tomanen threw a trap block to spring a Chargers’ running back.
Michael Leidenfrost – Pierz running back/defensive back
With a total of four running backs going over the century mark during the game, they all could have made this list. For the winning team. Leidenfrost averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored a touchdown. He has excellent speed and got to the corner on plays to the outside. He is also physical enough to run between the tackles and break arm tackles. Not just a running threat, he also caught two balls out of the backfield. He was a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. He led the team with nine tackles and got his hands on a pass – deflecting it harmlessly to the ground.
Eli Gillman – Dassel-Cokato running back/defensive back
Gillman led the Chargers in rushing with 150 yards on the ground. In this game, that was only second best for the game. He showed his speed on the first drive. After getting a big hole to run through, he outran the defense for a long touchdown run. He has good feet too. He showed them by making a quick cut to pick up extra yardage. He made a tough over the shoulder catch for a touchdown with Algarin draped all over him. On the defensive side of the ball, he made a diving interception and was credited with three tackles.