Senior linebacker Will Long of the Wayzata High football team wears No. 13 on his jersey, and it turned out to be a lucky 13 Sept. 14 when the Trojans played a non-conference game at Armstrong.
Long picked off a pass in the middle of the field just inside Armstrong’s 10 yard line with the Trojans already ahead 28-0 in the second quarter. A few strides later he had his first varsity touchdown.
“It was surreal,” Long said after the game. “I jumped the bubble. A pick six is something I have always wanted.”
Long said the key to the Wayzata defense is pursuit – that is the philosophy from start to finish.
Wayzata held Armstrong to only two first downs in the first half on the way to a 34-0 halftime lead.
Mitch Underhill, Wayzata’s mercurial halfback, scored two of those touchdowns on 4- and 8-yard runs.
Quarterback Reid Pettersen passed 10 yards to Jeff Borchardt for another score. Tanner Bedard, one of the players coach Brad Anderson shuffles in at tailback, scored on a 5-yard run.
In the third quarter, Bedard put it into overdrive. After the Falcons scored their only touchdown on captain Jeremiah Thayer’s 41-yard run, Bedard caught the ensuing kickoff on his own 3 yard line and took it 97 yards for a score.
WHS tailback Cortez Ford added an 11-yard touchdown run.
The Trojans tacked on another score with a 27-yard pass play from Andrew Reding to Jonathon Skar.
Skar broke three tackles near the goal line and dragged another would-be tackler into the end zone.
Defensively, the Trojans were able limit Armstrong to two pass completions and seven total first downs.
Trojan defensive coordinator Andy Hover said leadership is one of the keys to the package, along with Wayzata’s notorious pursuit.
“You won’t find a better leader than our captain, Chris Wipson,” Hover noted. “It is in everyone’s head that we’re going to pursue on every play.”
“We had a great team effort tonight,” said Anderson, adding a head coach’s point of view. “We executed right from the start. The offense scored on our first drive. Then the defense got the ball right back and we scored again.”
Anderson used six ball carriers, led by Underhill, who amassed almost 100 yards in the first half.
“I am confident in all of those backs,” said Anderson. “It is a matter of trying to give all of them enough reps. One good thing is that our guys don’t take the beating some running backs take.”
Dave Frisell, Armstrong’s head coach, said, “We were outmanned. Wayzata is a program that other programs model themselves after.”
Frisell liked the way the Falcons battled to the end. He alternated at quarterback with senior Carter Beelman and junior Hunter Ruhland taking most of the snaps.
Two standout players for Armstrong were senior running back Curtis Wilson and senior linebacker Ethan Carpenter. The latter had several impressive stops of Trojan tailback terrors Underhill and Bedard.
This week, when the Falcons play Osseo, Frisell hopes that his son Quinn will be able to return at quarterback.
Quinn suffered a broken collarbone and that was a big blow.
“Quinn knows the offense inside and out,” said Frisell.
Although the Falcons gave up 55 points against Wayzata, Frisell felt there were positive signs on defense.
“There were no really big plays from scrimmage,” he said. “We made them work for everything they got.”
Wayzata (3-0) has a bye Friday, Sept. 21. The Falcons’ game with Osseo will be played at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at Armstrong High.