Oct. 28, 2009
East falls in football playoffs
By Rick Weegman
Duluth Denfeld coaches joked with C.J. Ham when
the 250-pound junior running back jumped over a Hibbing player rather
than run over him in Tuesday’s Section 7AAAA high school football
game at Public Schools Stadium.
“We were teasing him about that jump because
[Vikings running back Adrian] Peterson ran that guy over [in Sunday’s
NFL game against Pittsburgh], so every coach said, ‘Why did
you jump out of the way? Didn’t you see AP on Sunday?’”
head coach Frank Huie said after Denfeld’s 45-20 quarterfinal
win. “We gave him a little grief about that.”
Ham didn’t avoid much more contact as the
second-seeded Hunters (6-3) won their third straight game and advanced
to play sixth-seeded Grand Rapids (3-6) in a semifinal at 2 p.m.
Saturday. The Thunderhawks upset Hermantown 32-8.
Denfeld’s win was the only one that went
according to form as top-seeded Cloquet, No. 3 Hermantown and No.
4 Duluth East all lost their opening playoff games.
Ham rushed for 99 yards on 14 carries and scored
three touchdowns for the Hunters, including a 39-yarder down the
left sideline that wrapped up the win late in the third quarter.
“First, I try to run them over, but once
I get out in the open I try to use my speed,” Ham said. “I’m
not the fastest guy, but I’m not slow either. In my mind,
I’m 180 pounds.”
Huie says he likes what he’s seen from Ham,
who gained more than 100 yards in last week’s regular-season
finale vs. Duluth Central.
“He’s a physical, athletic kid, and
the thing I like most about him is how hard he works,” Huie
said. “He worked all offseason to get to that size. That wasn’t
magical, it was weight room, running and dedication. And you see
the end result. He’s a man in a 16-year-old’s body.”
Ham said the running backs’ motto is to
not let one defender tackle them. Likewise, fellow back Ivan Dakovic,
a 200-pounder, is hard to bring down. That gives the Hunters a formidable
backfield, one that gained 206 yards rushing.
“That’s one of the reasons that I
stubbornly kept them both in the backfield instead of at guard or
tackle,” Huie said, “because I think they are both weapons.
Hopefully, that will prove out.”
Quarterback Mitch Svihel completed 8 of 13 passes
for 176 yards to stay undefeated since taking over the starting
job three weeks ago.
Hibbing .................. 0-0-6-14—20
Denfeld ................. 14-11-12-8—45
DD — Alex Eskola 1 run (kick blocked)
DD — Tom Warren 31 pass from Mitch Svihel (Eskola run)
DD — C.J. Ham 7 run (Ivan Dakovic run)
DD — Billy Phousongphouang 26 field goal
H — Ezra Coughlin 32 pass from Evan Lister (run failed)
DD — Ham 7 run (kick blocked)
DD — Ham 39 run (run failed)
DD — Phousongphouang 62 pass from Svihel (Dan Klaas run)
H — Lister 1 run (Kyle Jacobson run)
H — Eric Laliberte 56 run (run failed)