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Football: Delzer, defense fuel NLS Wildcats to victory

No. 1 seed Wildcats defeat Pierz 28-6 in Section 6AAA semifinals.

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Wildcats junior running back Mason Delzer sprints into the end zone during a Section 6AAA playoffs game against the Pierz Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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NEW LONDON — Wildcats junior running back Mason Delzer shined bright to help fuel New London-Spicer in its 28-6 victory over the Pierz Pioneers on Saturday.

“At halftime, we made some adjustments, but not any major ones,” NLS head coach Chad Gustafson said. “The team took it to heart and has a lot of pride. The seniors want to keep playing football. They wanted a shot at defending their section title. Now we have a shot at it.”

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Delzer, the lead back of the No. 1 seeded Wildcats, ran for 233 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. The strong effort from Delzer, alongside NLS’ defense, has put the Wildcats into the Section 6AAA championship against Albany on Friday night.

“Mason’s a beast. The offensive line is up there blocking for him, but he does a lot,” Wildcats offensive guard Marshel Johnson said. “He shakes off a lot of tackles and is really fast when he gets going. We block for him and he’s a great player.”

On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats’ defense was dominant. NLS allowed 215 total yards and one completion from Pierz quarterback Garrett Cummings, who went 1-for-11 with 72 yards.

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No. 1 seed Wildcats defeat Pierz 28-6 in Section 6AAA semifinals.

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Wildcats junior defensive back Ethan Holme hits Pierz quarterback Garrett Cummings as he throws during a Section 6AAA playoffs game against the Pierz Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

The Wildcats forced three turnovers, all in the second half. NLS junior linebacker Grant Paffrath forced Pierz running back Derek Stangl to fumble and senior defensive backs Gabe Rohman and Brycen Christensen each tallied an interception.

“Our defense has a lot of heart,” said Gustafson of a defense led by a nine-tackle performance by junior defensive back Luke Knudsen. “The defense wanted to fight for each other and keep playing football. We got better on first downs and turned the ball over three times, which was huge.”

Pierz’s sole touchdown of the game came on its first offensive drive. Led by running back Kirby Fischer, the Pioneers dominated on the ground and reached the end zone off a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Cummings. The touchdown gave Pierz a 6-0 lead 2 minutes, 54 seconds into the game.

NLS’ defense shut down the Pioneers the rest of the way, as Delzer and the Wildcats’ offense posted 28 unanswered points.

“We were just playing physical – filling in holes and making tackles,” Johnson said of the defense. “I think it was a great team win.”

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Wildcats senior split end Gabe Rohman (left) celebrates a touchdown by sophomore quarterback Blake Schultz (right) during a Section 6AAA playoffs game against the Pierz Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Delzer’s first touchdown of the game came at a crucial time with the Wildcats trailing 6-0. He broke loose for a 22-yard touchdown and NLS knotted the game at 6-6 with 2:57 minutes before halftime.

NLS got back to business quickly in the second half. The defense forced a three-and-out and then the offense went to work. Sophomore quarterback Blake Schultz capped off an offensive drive that started at the 50-yard line with a 14-yard scramble to give the Wildcats their first lead at 13-6.

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The Wildcats went on to add two more touchdowns. Delzer punched in his second of the day and Christensen made a leaping grab for a 2-yard touchdown and caught the two-point play to cement NLS’ 28-6 victory.

NLS will take on No. 2 Albany at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State University with a trip to the Class AAA state tournament on the line.

“I love the guys. I think we have huge potential,” Delzer said. “I think we can go all the way. We got a great group of guys and we all have great chemistry.”

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Wildcats senior Kylar Rodriguez tackles Pierz's Derek Stangl during a Section 6AAA playoffs game against the Pierz Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Section 6AAA

NLS 28, Pierz 6

Pierz (6-4)  6   0   0   0 — 6
NLS (7-2)  0   6   14   8 — 28

Scoring Plays
PIERZ – Garrett Cummings 1 run (kick failed)
NLS – Mason Delzer 22 run (two-point failed)
NLS – Blake Schultz 14 run (Gabe Rohman kick)
NLS – Delzer 3 run (Rohman kick)
NLS – Brycen Christensen 2 pass from Schultz (Christensen pass from Schultz)

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Wildcats senior split end Brycen Christensen looks to make a stiff arm play during a Section 6AAA playoffs game against the Pierz Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Pierz
First downs: 11 … Penalties: 2-12 … Rushing (Individual and team): Kirby Fischer 18-75, Jacob LeBlanc 17-56, Nathan Nash 2-10, Cummings 4-6, Kyle Winscher 1-(-1), Derek Stangl 3-(-3). Total: 45-143 … Passing (Individual and team): Cummings 1-10-1 72, Fischer 0-1-1 0. Total: 1-11-2 72 ... Receiving: Mitchell Smude 1-72 … Interceptions: none … Fumble recoveries: none … Tackles (solo-assist): n/a … QB sacks: none

NLS
First downs: 18 … Penalties: 5-41 … Rushing (Individual and team): Delzer 25-233, Gavin Degner 3-23, Hunter Downey 3-6, Christensen 3-(-3), Schultz 1-14, Lucas Swenson 4-10. Total: 39-283 … Passing (Individual and team): Schultz 5-11-0 39 ... Receiving: Christensen 3-27, Grant Paffrath 1-9 … Interceptions: Christensen 1, Gabe Rohman 1 … Fumble recoveries: Luke Knudsen 1 … Tackles (solo-assist): Knudsen 9-0, Paffrath 7-0, Christensen 5-2, Rohman 4-2, Bennett Schultz 5-0, Brody Duke 5-0, Degner 4-0, Kylar Rodriguez 2-2 … QB sacks: none

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Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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