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Braves can’t overcome No. 1 Redmen

Todd Rose | Daily Press Gladstone’s Cole Potier (center) rushes downfield against Marquette Friday in Gladstone.

GLADSTONE — The Marquette Redmen played tough Friday night against the Gladstone Braves Friday night in a Great Northern Conference contest — that doubled as Gladstone’s homecoming — to win 43-12 in Gladstone.

“Any time you can get a win in the GNC up here is great,” said Marquette coach Eric Mason. “I’m just proud of the kids. Our goal this week was to hold them under 17, and we did that. Each week, I set goals for them, and they seem to achieve them.”

The Braves kept within striking distance of the Redmen through the first half of the game, keeping Marquette to 16 points from two touchdowns — two passes from Austin Ridl to Justin Jurmu and Owen Beauchamp for 15 and six yards each — and a 24-yard field goal by Ryland Kohler.

Marquette’s defense — anchored by Chris Ricker on the line and Dustin Lohfink at linebacker — stifled the Braves’ offensive attack for the majority of the game, holding them to zero points through three quarters of play.

Though he was happy with Ricker and Lohfink’s performances, Mason thought it was an all-around effort that earned the Redmen the win.

“We had a good team effort,” he said. “You get kids that stand out, but when the whole team plays and you can’t really pick one kid, that’s good, too.”

Backing the team was a large fan section that made the trip down to watch their team play.

“We’ve got a great following. I just want to thank all the fans that followed us down here. That’s just fantastic,” Mason said.

The Braves scored twice in the final quarter of play to get the board. The first was a 49-yard pass from Nate Young to Michael Brazeau, while Young took it on his own later from 72 yards out.

Things did start to get a bit chippy and mouthy as the game progressed. However, both teams’ coaches boiled it down to high school kids wanting to win a conference game and Gladstone wanting a win on their homecoming game.

“It always happens,” said Mason. “It’s GNC games and emotions with high school kids, it goes both ways. Each side, I’m sure is upset over the other, whatever. But, at the end of the day, it’s high school kids playing football.”

Gladstone coach Jeff Hansen shared similar thoughts.

“It was a physical football game, and you saw some emotions come out during the game,” Hansen said. “And that’s going to happen. You’re talking about a conference game, high school football. Everybody’s got a lot of pride and wants to play as hard as they possibly can, so you’ll see that happen sometimes.

“It wasn’t anything too, too, bad. I thought the coaches did a good job controlling their people and keeping the reins on it. But, yeah, it got a little chippy there.”

For Nate Young — who played in place of the injured Cam Kelly, who was named homecoming king alongside homecoming queen Jamisyn Bergeron at halftime — it was a solid first varsity start at quarterback commented Hansen.

“This is a huge growth piece for him,” said Hansen about the sophomore quarterback. “He started his first varsity football game at quarterback, which is tough for anybody to do. Especially in our conference against the toughest team on our schedule.

“He came out and acquitted himself well. He didn’t flinch. … And the big thing was he competed from the start of the game to the finish.”

Overall, Hansen said the Braves played hard in a game they knew was going to be a challenge.

“This was going to be a tall task for us,” he said. “Marquette, I think, is a very good football team. Everybody knows that. They’re athletic, big and strong up front, so our margin for error was going to be pretty minute coming in here, and we knew that.

“The kids fought their tails off. We hung with them for right around three quarters, and then we started subbing and got our scout teamers in there so they could play in front of their moms and dads and everything. This is a tough loss. Marquette’s a good team. Hats off to those guys. We’ll get better from this for sure and be ready to play Elk Rapids next week.”

Next week, Gladstone travels to Elk Rapids while the Redmen host Claire.

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