Swedes take Holdrege to season finale | sports
The Swedish football team ended its last match of the season with a win over Holdrege Dusters on October 22 at Holdrege High School.
While the team has seen its share of ups and downs throughout the season, head coach Craig Haake said he was pleased with how the team came out and challenged Holdrege from the opening kick.
“We came out and played pretty well,” he said. “We put together one of our most complex drives of the entire season. We succeeded very well.”
After Holdrege opened the match with a touchdown, the Swedes responded with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Wes Geiken to Tra Rossell to get the Swedes on the board.
Bronson Long was good for PAT and the Swedes took a lead of 7-6 with 59 seconds left of the first quarter.
Gothenburg did not look back from there.
With 3:33 left in the second quarter, Jake Burge hit the end zone to extend the Swedish lead.
Long beat PAT and the Swedes were up 14-6.
Dusters had a hard time moving the ball on the ensuing drive and on the fourth try, Maddox Rickertsen got through the line to block Holdrege punt.
Gothenburg took back the ball and the Swedes had a huge field position.
Three short games later, Geiken lowered his shoulder and took it in for another six with: 35 left in the half.
PAT punched in a long way and the team went to a break with the Swedes in control, 21-6.
Haake said that the team’s performance in the first half was fantastic and felt that there was a great opportunity to save early in the second half.
“We came out at half time and on the fourth and first I thought ‘if we get this this is over’ ‘, said Haake. “We did not get it and it became a very short field for them.”
Holdrege scored on his subsequent possession and set the score at 21-13 in favor of the Swedes.
He went on to say that afterwards he had a coach who told him to throw the ball.
“I told the guys after the game that sometimes you have to overcome a little coaching, and that was an example,” Haake said.
The Swedes had a hard time getting the offensive game plan to roll in the third quarter just when Holdrege’s game book seemed to flop up.
“Sometimes it felt like we turned off their running and sometimes we forgot our responsibility,” Haake said. “Many teams use the jet plane to set up other games and when you do not control the jet sweep, the entire game book is open. It seemed like we fell back on our heels and their game book was opened.”
The Dusters scored another touchdown with 7:04 left in the game to make it 21-19.
Holdrege decided to try a 2-point conversion to make the match equalizer which was stopped immediately when Caden Neels stepped up and stopped the run.
“We had a young man step in from the side and on the only play he was on all night made a big stop,” Haake said. “It’s big. He stopped them from making the draw.”
The Swedes regained possession and did their best to slow down to lose some clock.
Gothenburg drained a little over three minutes from the clock on that drive, but was forced to tip.
Long sent the ball down the field and Tra Rossell hurried to pin the ball at the one-yard line.
Abe Mendez took the ball for the last touchdown of the match from the two-yard line.
Long sent the ball through the posts and the score rested at 28-19 for a Swedish win.
“We played very free football,” Haake said. “We always talk about it. Special teams attached them deeply, the defense kept them there and the offensive had to go two games to get points.”
He went on to say that even though the Swedes were off the field during the match – Holdrege added 267 yards to Gothenburg’s 235 – he was pleased with how the Swedes contained a Duster offensive that had the potential to really take control.
“We went for prevention at the end of the first half and at the end of the match, but we did not give up any points,” said Haake.
Geiken had 75 yards rushing on 12 attempts with a touchdown and passed for another 47 yards on four of 11 finishes.
Burge had 59 rushing yards with one touchdown and 32 yards on two point rebounds.
JJ Smith carried the ball 10 times on 39 yards and had a reception on 6 yards.
Defensively, Smith had 11 tackles to lead the Swedes and Burge had 10.
Trey Stevens and Geiken had nine each, Stevens with one for loss.
When he thought of the 2021 season, Haake said that the team faced many setbacks.
From injuries to illnesses and getting into the most difficult part of their season early, the young Swedes had plenty of opportunities to call it a season early, but they did not.
“I was happy with how the kids came out and played when they had a chance to stop – to stop – and they did not,” Haake said. “We showed up as Swedes and we continued to fight. I would think the team thought that attitude probably paid off for them.
“Sometimes in life you keep fighting and keep fighting and it does not pay off,” Haake continued. “I think those seniors will go out and say ‘it took a while to get there but down at the end we had our heads above the water.’
Haake said that the leadership shown by the seniors in the team really left some residue on the team’s underclassmen.
“The year did not turn out as they had planned, but they did not end,” Haake said. “It no longer seems like society says it’s an option for people to take and I was proud that this group – which was 0-5 at one point – did not pack it in. They took advantage of the breaks given to them and the played hard and I think they feel they had some success. “
Haake went on to say that the caliber of children who left his program were amazing children who showed cruelty.
“They persevered, they persevered, they persevered,” Haake said. “There’s a lot to say there.”
The future of the Swedish football program is bright and Haake said that the team would hit the weight room this summer.
“We have to get bigger, stronger, more athletic. And that comes from the weight room,” said Haake. “I think the younger kids saw a recipe for what can sometimes be this season and we want to be that team again.”
He went on to say that the past season is an insight into the future of the Swedish football program and he is excited about the possibilities.
“We play who we play,” he said. “You earn further and you earn your place based on what you contribute to the team. If you can play, we will find a place for you.”