9-MAN SECTION FOOTBALL: Edgerton/Ellsworth cruises into 9-man section final , 40-0

EDGERTON -- A year ago, Alex Heard could only watch from the stands as Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley defeated Westbrook-Walnut Gove in the Section 3 9-Man football championship.

Edgerton/Ellsworth's Chace Hulstein
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Edgerton/ Ellsworth's Chace Hulstein (22) rambles for some of his 176 total rushing yards in the Flying Dutchmen's playoff victory over Wheaton.

EDGERTON -- A year ago, Alex Heard could only watch from the stands as Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley defeated Westbrook-Walnut Gove in the Section 3 9-Man football championship.

Saturday, the Edgerton/ Ellsworth senior made sure the Flying Dutchmen got their own chance in the section finals this season.

Leading his team on both sides of the ball, Heard led E/E to a 40-0 victory against Wheaton, sending the Flying Dutchmen to Friday's section championship in the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D., where the top-seeded Wolverines await.

"We were so close to beating Westbrook (last year) and then they lost to Clinton by one," Heard said. "We knew we wanted to get there. Our goal all year has been the Fargodome. Now we got there."

Heard made sure the Dutchmen would fulfill their goal. He was 16-for-23 passing for 238 yards and three touchdowns.


"I played my best game of the year (Saturday), too," Heard said. "I was pretty happy with our game. I had a great time and our receivers ran well. We played well (Saturday).

"My receivers really picked it up. They ran hard routes. They knew to balance our run game - this is a physical team - that we were going to have to throw the ball. Our team really came through."

But what he did on the defensive side of the ball was just as impressive.

Heard intercepted three first-half passes to lead a stout Dutchmen defense that allowed 165 yards of total offense.

"Coach said to be ready for play action," Heard said. "I knew who their favorite target was and I just stayed on him. I was in the right spot a couple of times and got a couple of picks."

Wheaton starting quarterback Justin Lee completed two passes in 11 attempts for 28 yards. Heard had three interceptions himself.

Not bad for a quarterback, a position that isn't normally known for pass-catching abilities.

"They say that, but I play a lot of catch during practice," Heard said. "So I get some hands that way."


While Heard was playing his best game of the season, running back Chace Hulstein was running wild. The senior had 176 yards rushing on 22 carries, including a trio of touchdowns.

"I had great blocking," Hulstein said. "Josh Steffl started hooking and taking people down. Brady Timmer is probably one of the best blocking back we've had in a few years. It's all about the line. When we pounded it, we went behind Landon Anker. He is a beast; he's a big man."

E/E had 269 yards rushing and 238 yards passing in a balanced attack.

"Offensively, our running game was good, but what really made the difference for us was that we did a nice job in the passing game," E/E head coach Andrew Fleischman said. "Alex Heard had the best game we've had him play all year. Our receivers, Chace Hulstein, Jordan Gunnink and Casey Schilling just all had amazing games for us. If we would have been run heavy or pass heavy, we would have been in a lot of trouble."

Heard didn't waste time making an impact. On the Warriors' second possession, Heard intercepted his first pass, setting up good field position.

Nine plays later, Hulstein scored on a five-yard touchdown, giving E/E a 6-0 lead.

That lead would increase a short time later. Set up again by a Heard interception, the quarterback finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Gunnink (six receptions, 101 yards, two touchdowns). A two-point conversion pass to Schilling gave E/E a 14-0 lead.

Wheaton turned the ball over again on its next possession. This time, Jordan Gunnink recovered a fumble, setting up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Heard to Schilling as E/E had a 20-0 lead.


Heard picked off one last pass before halftime as the Flying Dutchmen took a 20-point lead into halftime.

"We always give him a hard time because we say that he plays quarterback because he can't catch," Fleischman said. "But he really made a couple of nice catches on the interceptions. He just really had a great game on defense and offense. I can't say enough about how he played."

E/E picked up right where it left off in the third quarter. On the opening drive, Hulstein ran for an 11-yard touchdown, and Codi Gunnink caught the conversion pass, increasing the lead to 28-0.

The Flying Dutchmen forced a punt on Wheaton's next drive, and Heard threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this time a 30-yard strike to Jordan Gunnink.

Taking the 34-0 lead into the fourth quarter, E/E had one more touchdown left. Hulstein found pay dirt for the third time from nine yards out, sealing the 40-0 victory.

"We played our best game of the year, and it shows on the scoreboard," Heard said. "I thought it was going to be a closer game, but our team really came through. Our line played their best game of the year and our backs ran hard. Everything went well."

Wheaton entered the game as the bigger team with a run-heavy offense. The Warriors had 89 yards rushing on 36 attempts, averaging a meager 2.5 yards per rush.

"We just played fabulous," Fleischman said. "Our defense played as well as it's played all year. We were real nervous; Wheaton is a big, physical team that could definitely grind it out on you. We haven't really seen a team that's tried to grind it out on us since Westbrook, and that didn't go so hot for us. We were real proud of how our defense played."


Jordan Gunnink caught four passes for 79 yards, while Schilling had four receptions for 58 yards. Timmer had 45 yards rushing, while Heard added 29 on the ground.

Defensively, Jordan Gunnink made 13 tackles, while Timmer had 12 stops. Jonny Bouw had eight tackles.

"We're feeling pretty good," Hulstein said. "Wheaton was a running team, just like C-G-B is. So we're not expecting a blowout, but it should be a good game. We stopped the run well (Saturday), so hopefully that carries over.

"We're going to have to stop the run even better than we did (Saturday). They have big backs. They have a 300-pound fullback, so we're going to have to tackle well."

C-G-B enters with a 10-0 record after a 54-0 victory over Chokio-Alberta/Herman-Norcross in the semifinals. The Wolverines defeated Wheaton 62-6 earlier in the season.

"We've been in games before like this against good teams," Fleischman said. "We're not going to be intimidated. We do know they are an excellent football team and we're definitely the underdog going into it. If we do beat them, we're going to have to beat them with our short passing game and we're going to have to play good defense like we did (Saturday). I can't guarantee how it will go, but I can guarantee that we're going to go up and give it our best shot."

Wheaton 0 0 0 0 - 0

E/E 6 14 14 6 -- 40


Edgerton/Ellsworth's Jordan Gunnink
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Edgerton/Ellworth's Jordan Gunnink dashes around the right side for some extra yardage during Saturday's 9-Man section playoff game in Ellsworth.

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