Denfeld News

Oct. 27, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

Denfeld understudy QB Svihel will lead Hunters into first round
By Rick Weegman

Mitch Svihel found a good way to deal with the nerves he had heading into his first start as Duluth Denfeld quarterback: He threw a pair of touchdowns on his first two pass attempts.

“That boosted my confidence,” said the 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior, who will be behind center for the third straight game when Denfeld (5-3) faces Hibbing (3-5) in a Section 7AAAA high school football quarterfinal at 5 p.m. today at Public Schools Stadium.

The second-seeded Hunters won both starts after Svihel replaced three-year starter Adam Scofield, who is no longer with the team.

“I was really nervous,” Svihel said of his thoughts before playing St. Paul Como Park two weeks ago and Duluth Central last week. “I had butterflies for a long time but you can’t worry about it, you just have to go out and do it.”

Hunters coach Frank Huie says the understudy has done what the coaches have asked, plus he likes his demeanor.

“On the outside he’s been calm, like he’s been waiting for his chance,” he said. “Inwardly, I’m sure there was some nerves with the Central game and the playoffs coming up, but he sure hasn’t shown that.

“Our hope is that we prepared our backup kids enough that when [a starter] goes down, they are ready — even if it’s a junior that never played varsity ball before.”

Now, with a couple of games under his belt, Svihel feels those nerves fading away.

“I plan to keep it smooth, keep them calm,” he said of tonight’s game. “We want to come out right away and explode [on offense] and make a good first impression.”

Denfeld’s offense is predicated around handing the ball to running backs C.J. Ham, Ivan Dakovic, Luke Jazdzewski and Brendan Lawler, but throwing comes in handy when necessary or to surprise defenses.

Teammates believe Svihel can do the job.

“He filled the spot really well against Como Park,” senior wide receiver Billy Phousongphouang said. “He knew our routes perfectly, knew when to throw the ball and was a good pocket passer with super vision. We’re super confident in him.”

Cloquet is the section’s top seed after its best season in more than a decade. The Lumberjacks (7-1) meet Duluth Central (0-7) in a quarterfinal tonight in what could be the final game in Trojans’ history.

Third-seeded Hermantown (6-2), which lost a nail-biter to Denfeld, and No. 4 Duluth East, which handed the Hunters a 49-22 loss, also host games tonight. Hermantown will play its game against Grand Rapids at Terry Egerdahl Field in Proctor because of poor field conditions at the Hawks' field.

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