Oct. 27, 2009
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.