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October 24, 2020

10/16/2020 9:54:00 AM
Straka completes two minute drill to perfection for Pointer win

Mineral Point's winning score came with 17 seconds left in the game with Will Straka travelling the final yards to light up the scoreboard.
That decided a battle between a pair of number two ranked teams, Mineral Point in Division 6 and Lake Mills in Division 4.
To call it a great football game would not be doing it justice. What it was should be termed a classic. It was a gutty performance between two of the best team the state has to offer and a welcome relief, if only for a moment, from the year of the pandemic.
It didn't take long for the tone to be set that this was going to go right to the wire. Fans were just getting settled in their seats or tuning into the live stream when Dom McVay found a seam on the opening kick off and raced 95 yards to score. Bo Hanson's kick made it 7-0 and that score lasted the rest of the first quarter.
It took Lake Mills about five minutes into the second frame to answer as they scored on an Adam Moen to Rex Cassaday touchdown and Mason Levake kicked the extra point.
Remember how the Pointers started the game with the McVay kick off return? Lightning struck twice for the Pointers as McVay clicked off 90 yards this time for a score and Hanson's kick made it 14-7 at 7:02 of the first quarter.
Lake Mills answered two minutes later when Moen found Jaxson Retrum open for an one yard scoring pass.  Levake made it a tie game at 14 all.
The question of who would be ahead at the end of the first 24 minutes was answered when McVay found the end zone, juking in from the 50 with a minute left. The 20-14 score was how the half ended.
The third quarter turned out to be a showcase of quarterbacks. Pointer signal caller Liam Stumpf threw an 18 yard scoring pass to Joah Filardo then stepped into the end zone with a two point conversion and a 28-14 score.
Moen came back for the L-Cats and worked his way in from the three.  LeVake's kick made it 28-21.
The Pointers picked up a pair of points with a safety to start the fourth quarter and followed that with a 15 yard blast by Straka for a 38-21 lead.
It was Lake Mills' turn next and Moen made the most of it with a scoring pass to Retrum followed by LeVake's kick. He didn't stop there.
All Moen did was carry the ball himself to score from the 16 and tied the game with a two point conversion pass to Retrum.
But the Pointers had one more push to make and that was by Straka who capped a drive with a six yard run with 17 ticks left for the win. Stumpf's two point conversion run gave the Pointers the 44-38 margin.
Competing with the L-Cats, a state play off team last year and a high quality QB in Moen, is one thing but beating them is another. The win over a quality opponent was not lost on coach Andy Palzkill.
"Lake Mills is an excellent football team and they have developed into a quality football program," said Palzkill. "Adam Moen is an outstanding quarterback and he no doubt put them in position to win the game."
But the Pointers were ready for the test.
"We practice our two-minute drill extensively throughout practice," Palzkill said about what the Pointers faced at the end. "Our purpose is to ensure that we are comfortable in situations like we faced Friday night. We are fortunate to have a number of athletes that we trust in game winning moments. The athletes executed well on that drive and it is certainly comforting as a head coach to have a young man like Will Straka as a primary ball carrier. I trust Will to make the plays necessary to earn a victory and have tremendous faith in him. It is not the first time that he has scored the game winning touchdown for us."
If the L-Cats prepared for the game they must have done it without finding a way to slow down McVay who ran back two kick offs and scored on a long run.
Palzkill knows the Pointers are fortunate to have McVay.
"Dominik is a special player and he is able to impact the game in a number of ways," Palzkill said. "We do our best to allow him to get touches at different positions which will make it difficult for teams to game plan for him. He is able to impact the game in a number of ways. I continue to be impressed by his aggressive and physical running style. It is great to have a young man be so physical and so explosive in terms of his speed and ability to accelerate. Dominik has been a difference-maker for us since his freshman year and it is fun to watch him improve due to his work ethic throughout the year."
In only his second start at quarterback for the Pointers Stumpf is close to the respect commanded by L-Cat veteran Moen.
"It is certainly amazing to watch Liam play so well with his limited game experience at quarterback," said Palzkill. "What it tells you is that he was able to grasp an understanding of our offense throughout his career and apply a lot of things he learned playing at other positions and/or in practice situations."
"Liam also has some intangibles that go along with being a gamer as they say," Palzkill continued. "He is very competitive and does not want to be denied. I was very impressed with the way he handled the final drive and embraced the opportunity to be a leader. He understood the situation and was ready to lead us to the game winning score. I am very proud of the way he has played and the way he has handled himself in high pressure situations."
Playing against one of the state's top quarterbacks is expected to pay dividends for the Pointers as the season moves forward.
"Having the opportunity to play against great players and great offenses is important because it forces you to improve," Palzkill said. "I feel like we learned a great deal from this past week in terms of the preparation that we had and the game experience that comes from each Friday night. Our coverages and our position technique really improved as we went through each day last week. Although Lake Mills did find some success on offense, I was happy with the way that we made them work hard to find that success. Our defense did not give up many easy yards and we made them earn their points all night."
Palzkill discussed what must be done to prepare for each week's test.
"Each week our game plans on offense and defense are developed because of what the opponent does regarding X's and O's as well as their personnel," the coach said. "This past week is a prime example of that fact. We added a few coverages and fronts on defense so we could mix things up and keep them from getting comfortable. We also adjusted two of our primary running concepts based on the 34 cover 0 that Lake Mills runs on their defense. Fortunately for us, all of the adjustments we made really factored into us being able to earn the victory. The credit goes to our coaching staff and the athletes for executing the game plan very well and for having a positive response to the adversity that we faced throughout the game."
"We certainly saw some great performances on Friday night," Palzkill added. "I want to highlight the kick return team for their excellent blocking which allowed Dominik the room to showcase his talents. I also thought that Bo Hanson and Joah Filardo made huge catches at key times to allow us to score in the second half. It was also great to see Owen Ward compete at a high level on the offensive line in his first varsity start at center. It was a true team effort and definitely a night to be proud of the Mineral Point football program."
As they say it takes a village to educate a child....
"We just want to thank our school district and community for the opportunity to play on Friday nights this season," Palzkill said. "With all of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is refreshing to have some normalcy regarding athletic contests. Hopefully, we will be able to continue with the season and enjoy the time we have as a football team. There is no doubt that we have a different outlook this year in terms of enjoying each and every moment we get to share as players and coaches."
One thing the Pointers know they need to conquer is the penalties they have been having that have resulted in touchdowns and long gains being negated.
"Reducing penalties and mental mistakes will be a priority moving forward," Palzkill said. "We had numerous big plays and scores called back due to unnecessary actions. This was addressed in film on Monday night and will be throughout the practice during the week. In general, better decision making and better fundamental technique will fix this issue."
This week's opponent was to have been Darlington but that will not happen because of COVID-19 issues with the Redbirds.
"There are a few options for potential games for us Friday," Palzkill said. "At this time, we are unsure exactly what will happen for our upcoming game, but we hope to know soon. Either way, our focus will be to improve upon our fundamentals and become better decision makers on the football field to reduce our unforced errors."

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