Harrison Speltz plows through Houston defense with tackle attempt by Dylan Lee (#10) just before contact with Brett Hoskins (#26).
Harrison Speltz plows through Houston defense with tackle attempt by Dylan Lee (#10) just before contact with Brett Hoskins (#26).

Top-seeded Spring Grove advanced to the final round of the Section One 9-man football tourney last week. After first-round opponent Glenville-Emmons forfeited, semi-final foe Houston fell 56-6 at Spring Grove on Oct. 26.

Player illness caused the Wolverines to cancel for a lack of numbers, head coach Jared Matson told the Albert Lea Tribune.

The senior-rich Hurricanes parlayed a No. 5 seeding into a first-round win over No. 4 Mabel-Canton. That gave them a berth in the section semi-finals with SG.

Houston had played eyeball-to eyeball with SG in a 28-24 loss to the Lions in September, but were stopped cold by a swarming SG defense on Saturday. Sixteen plays went for negative yardage, and the Hurricanes finished with only 61 yards of total offense. That's the fewest allowed in Spring Grove single game statistics going back 12 years.

The Lions scored four touchdowns in each half along with a safety followed by a field goal as time expired in the second quarter. The 29-yard three-pointer by Matt Schleich (hold by Dustin Vickerman, snap by Nick Holty) was the first since 2008 for SG.

The 'Canes got on the scoreboard after recovering a Lion fumble at the SG 36 on the first snap of the second half. Eiightplays later, Peter Jergenson carried the ball in from the 5 yard-line.

Houston (4-6) had only one other scoring threat (on its second possession). A 23-yard pass, the 'Canes longest gainer of the game, resulted in a first down at Lion 15. But the drive ended with a quarterback sack at the 16 by Holty and Harrison Speltz, and SG took over on downs.

Outside of those two Houston possessions, the only other Hurricane first down came on a Lion roughing-the-punter penalty.

Hurricane quarterback Christian Sires was sacked 6 times and put the ball into the air 16 times, completing only 6 (44 yards) while being intercepted 4 times - twice by his quarterback counterpart Keenan Siminski and once each by Vickerman and Speltz.

With about ten minutes to play in the fourth quarter, defensive end Alex Engelhardt sent Sires sprawling and a pass fluttering into the air where Speltz gathered it in and raced 26 yards to the end zone. That made it 50-6.

SG had scored earlier on defense when an errant punt snap went over the head of Mason Drake into the end zone for a safety.

In addition to the interception score, the safety and the field goal, the Lion offense scored on 7 rushing plays, tallying on one of every 7 or 8 hand-offs.

Caleb Happel carried 28 times for 263 yards and 5 touchdowns, the latter two numbers career highs. He scored on runs (in order) of 14, 5, 20, 67 and 1 yard in addition to a two-point conversion run.

The final score came in the final minute as Dylan Kampschroer (on his only carry) weaved his way untouched through Houston defenders for 32 yards.

On their first possession, the Lions had sent Speltz up the middle for 26 yards to set up Siminski's quarterback keeper for the final 13 yards and a 6-0 lead.

That possession began after Schleich recovered the first of 7 Houston fumbles. After Vickerman recovered a fumble (forced by Holty) near midfield, the Lions needed only 5 plays to make it 14-0.

The next time SG took possession, they drove 60 yards in only 6 plays (20-0). Then Engelhardt fell on a bad Houston shotgun-formation snap at the 'Cane 20.

On the next play, Brady Schuttemeier blocked the way clear for Happel to rumble 20 yards to the end zone. That made it 26-0 before the bad punt snap resulted in the safety.

Siminski then returned his first interception 14 yards to the Houston 10 to set up Schleich's field goal 15 seconds before intermission.

After Houston finally got on the scoreboard early in the second half, SG answered in one play. Speltz and Tanner Sanness opened a hole up the middle, and Happel broke two tackles while going 67 yards. That was the longest play of the night. SG had 7 plays covering 20 or more yards; Houston had only one.

Happel, coming off an injury, was a force on both sides of the ball, credited with 15 tackles (9 solo) including 3 sacks. Holty was in on 11 stops including 4 tackles for loss (1.5 sacks).

Schleich had 10 tackles and Engelhardt 9 along with forcing one fumble and recovering another. Vickerman also forced a fumble and recovered one in addition to 7 tackles and breaking up one pass.

Schuttemeier contributed 7 tackles, 3 of which were for losses (1 sack). Speltz, also nursing an injury, played both in the backfield and the line on offense, and at defensive end, posted 7 tackles (5 solo).

SG rolled up 402 yards of total offense with 370 on the ground. Siminski, in addition to picking off 2 Houston passes, went to the air only 5 times himself. He suffered only his third interception of the year but his 32 passing yards put him over a 1,000 yards for the season (1,018).

Causes for concern for SG were converting only 1 of 6 third downs (17%) and only 2 of 8 extra-point plays, but the Lion attack faced only 6 third downs all night and scored on 6 of 7 trips into the red zone (opponent 20 yard-line).

Scoring 8 touchdowns makes extra points non-essential, but the Lions scored only one TD in the last game against their next opponent, Grand Meadow.


RUSHING (44-370, 7 TD): Caleb Happel 28-263, 5TD, 1 PAT; Harrison Speltz 4-52; Dylan Kampschroer 1-32, TD; Dustin Vickerman 1-15; Matt Schleich 3-5; Alex Engelhardt 1-3; Keenan Siminski 4-2, TD; Kody Olerud 1-0; team 1-(-2). PASSING: Keenan Simninski 2-5-1, 32 yds. RECEIVING: Alex Engelhardt 1-23, Dustin Vickerman 1-9. INTERCEPTIONS (4): Keenan Siminski 2-14 yds; Harrison Speltz 1-26 yds., TD; Dustin Vickerman 1 (PAT). TACKLES includes TFL: Caleb Happel 15 (9 solo+6 assists); Nick Holty 11 (4+7); Matt Schleich 10 (4+6); Alex Engelhardt 9 (2+7); Harrison Speltz 7 (5+2); Brady Schuttemeier 7 (2+5); Dustin Vickerman 7 (1+6); Damon Cody 4 (2+2); Jordan Jaster 3 (2+1); Gabe Solum 2 (1+1); Mikal Guberud 2 (0+2); Larry Schulte 1 (0+1); Keenan Siminski 1 (0+1); Dylan Kampschroer 1 (0+1)

Section One 9-Man Football 2013 Quarterfinals

#1 SG by forfeit over #8 Glenville-Emmons

#5 Houston 27, #4 Mabel-Canton 18

#3 Grand Meadow 47, #6 LeRoy-Ostrander 14

#2 Lanesboro 60, #7 Lyle/Pacelli 34


Spring Grove 56, Houston 6

Grand Meadow 35, Lanesboro 6

Finals Nov. 1 at RCTC 5:30 p.m.

SG (8-1) vs. Grand Meadow (9-1)