By PATRICK SLACK
Holdingford capped an undefeated 7-0 season in the Central Minnesota Conference (CMC), and with it the CMC title, with a smothering defensive performance at Rockford Area, Wednesday, shutting out the Rockets 21-0.
The Huskers are the first team to win the CMC championship other than Pierz or Eden Valley-Watkins since 2003, when Holdingford also won the conference title.
“To play in a conference as strong as the CMC and to finish undefeated is a real accomplishment for our players,” Holdingford head coach Luke Mitchell said. “We know how good the teams are and every week was a battle. Our kids stuck together and played hard each and every week. Our coaching staff is very proud of them for this.”
The Huskers defense forced seven punts, allowed only 114 yards of total offense and recorded five sacks, two interceptions and a safety.
Holdingford opened up a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a 17-yard touchdown connection from junior Mitch Messman to senior Jon Skwira.
The Huskers then extended their advantage to 15-0 at the break on a safety tackle by sophomore Nathan Brinker and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Messman to senior Cody Schwinghammer.
The Huskers put the game away for good on a 3-yard touchdown run by Skwira in the fourth.
Skwira rushed for 125 yards on 25 attempts to pace the Holdingford offense, while junior Mitch Merten powered his way to three sacks and junior Jeremy Springer and Schwinghammer intercepted passes on defense.
Holdingford will be the No. 2 seed in the Section 6AA tournament and will host either Breckenridge or Wadena-Deer Creek in Tuesday’s quarterfinals pending Breckenridge’s season finale outcome.
“Now that the playoffs have started, we are going to stress each day that our record is 0-0,” Mitchell said. “We’ll keep preparing them for our next opponent and remind them that they can look back on our CMC title after the season.”
Holdingford 21, Rockford Area 0
Holdingford 6 9 0 6 – 21
Rockford Area 0 0 0 0 – 0
HOLD: Jon Swira 17 pass from Mitch Messman (pass failed).
HOLD: Nathan Brinker safety.
HOLD: Cody Schwinghammer 18 pass from Messman (Kyle Kolstad kick).
HOLD: Skwira 3 run (kick failed).
Holdingford—Rushing: Jon Skwira, 25-125; Jordan Gombos, 12-69; Matt Messman, 3-17; Taylor Nitz, 5-15. Passing: Mitch Messman, 7-17, 85. Receiving: Taylor Milbrandt, 2-30; Cody Schwinghammer, 2-28; Skwira, 1-17. Defense: Matt Messman, 6 solo tackles, 3 assists; Skwira, 6 solo tackles, 3 assists; Mitch Merten, 3 solo sacks; Nitz, sack; Mitch Messman, sack; Schwinghammer, interception; Jeremy Springer, interception.