Airborne Jayme Lenning along with Matt Schleich (#13 below) tackles Mabel-Canton’s Hunter Johnson in season opener.
Airborne Jayme Lenning along with Matt Schleich (#13 below) tackles Mabel-Canton’s Hunter Johnson in season opener.

Spring Grove rushed for 393 yards and passed for 138 while limiting Mabel-Canton to 226 yards of total offense during a 60-6 opening-game trouncing on Aug. 31.

Homefield fans witnessed Spring Grove put on a nearly unstoppable display that Friday night, coming within one play of shutting out the hapless Cougars while scoring on all but one possession.

Problems began early for M-C. After an opening drive that began on their own 32 yard line stalled, a bad snap flew over the head of punter Noah Manning, resulting in a short kick. Spring Grove took over on the Cougar 38 and marched down for its first score in eight plays.

Spring Grove then scored on five long drives of 86, 87, 80, 61 and 86 yards. The Lions enjoyed a 44-0 lead before reserves were forced to punt in the second half.

The Cougars' only sustained drive was a 10-play, 57-yard second-quarter march down to the Spring Grove 11 before losing the ball on a fourth-down fumble.

They did manage to score after taking the ball at their own nine-yard line late in the game. On the second play of that possession, junior Hunter Johnson broke free for an 85-yard touchdown burst.

Unfortunately for the visitors, it was one of only two Cougar plays that went for 20 yards or more. The other was when junior Collin O'Bieglo hit end Donnie Lind with a 22-yard second-quarter toss and run.

The final TD, an interception, was the eye-popping play of the game when junior Larry Schulte blocked an M-C pass and then in the air, snatched the ball away from the Cougar quarterback and raced 52 yards to the end zone.

"Spring Grove out-played us," M-C coach Karl Urbaniak said later. "We made some mistakes, and they got a number of long runs due to poor tackling in the secondary. Our defensive line also did not play very well.

"They are confident and they have a very good runner in (Josh) Olerud. He's certainly going to be one of the top runners in the league. He's hard to tackle and he's got some speed."

Olerud finished with 157 yards on 18 carries, scoring on runs of 8, 19, and 44 yards before leaving the backfield after the first possession of the second half.

The Herald also attempted to contact Spring Grove coach Zach Hauser for comments, but did not receive a reply.

Jayme Lenning scored on a 23-yard run while quarterback Blaine Storlie scrambled for a six-yard TD.

After playing most of the game on the offensive line, Caleb Happel and Alex Engelhardt (a freshman) went into the backfield to score on 45 and 64-yard runs respectively.

Storlie was on target with every pass, completing seven and having one dropped for 138 yards. Mitchell Anderson (78 yards) and Engelhardt (42 yards) each caught three passes.

Matthew Schleich caught one pass for 18 yards, rushed 10 times for 23 hard-fought yards and was the leading tackler at safety with 11 stops. The versatile junior kicked off nine times and boomed Spring Grove's only punt of the night for 42 yards.

The hit of the game came with 130-pound Lion freshman Gabe Solum stopping the Cougars' extra-point run late in the game. SG was playing without injured two-way starter Spencer Dunn.

Cougar Mason Henry was taken from the field via ambulance, but Urbaniak reported later that his player only had a bruised muscle with no broken bones.

Excellent blocking and pass protection came from offensive linemen Brandon Schuttemeier, Nick Holty, Harrison Speltz, Happel, Engelhardt, Brady Schuttemeier and Tanner Sanness.

Both Brandon and Brady Schuttemeier inflicted tackles for a loss on M-C, along with Happel, Lenning and Olerud.

Overall leaders on defense were Schleich with 11 stops, Olerud, with 9, Happel with 8, Storlie with 7, Brandon Schuttemeier with 5, and Lenning with 5.