Hastings fell behind early to Park at homecoming but came on strong to winThe start wasn't the best, but the ending sure was. On Friday night in front of a large homecoming crowd, it was the Park Wolfpack that got on the scoreboard first, taking a 7-0 lead after an impressive first drive. From that point on, though, the Hastings faithful had plenty to cheer about.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
The start wasn't the best, but the ending sure was.
On Friday night in front of a large homecoming crowd, it was the Park Wolfpack that got on the scoreboard first, taking a 7-0 lead after an impressive first drive. From that point on, though, the Hastings faithful had plenty to cheer about. Hastings went on to beat Park handily, 34-14.
"They scored on their first drive, but the kids didn't panic," coach Dana Strain said. "They hung in there, and the defense played much better after that first drive. That was a real positive that the defense responded like that."
Hastings scored 21 unanswered first-half points to take a 21-7 lead into halftime. The final Hastings score came with just 23 seconds left in the half.
First-half touchdowns were scored by Tyler Mellick, Tate Sykes and Aaron Stoneberg.
In the second half, Hastings scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to take a 34-7 lead. Those touchdowns were scored by Mellick and Logan Shoen, who notched his first varsity touchdown in the game.
Extra points were kicked by P.J. Piotrowski (who kicked three of them successfully) and Ben Carlson (who kicked one).
While the Hastings offense sputtered in the third quarter, due in part to some penalties, they turned it on in the fourth quarter and got things going. That allowed Strain to get a number of new players in to the game.
"It was a really neat deal, especially on homecoming, to get pretty much everybody in to the ballgame and to give them a chance to play on Todd Field," Strain said.
The players got a chance to take the field in front of a full house, too.
"It was a great atmosphere," Strain said. "There were a lot of people there - we're very thankful for the community for coming out."
Prior to the game, the 2001 state championship team from Hastings was honored. It's the 10th anniversary of that team's title, and the coaching staff was honored prior to the game, too.
Stars and stats
Strain praised the play of the entire defense. He said several players had especially strong games, including Tate Sykes and Zach Anderson.
Sykes had a big tackle on a long run by a Park player that ended up saving Hastings at least three points and maybe even seven. He had an interception, he broke up a couple passes and he contributed on offense, too, with 55 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Dylan Nelson made a nice play on an interception, too, Strain said. He then returned it for 27 yards.
Zach Mellick had a fumble recovery, too.
Offensively, Mellick was the star, gaining 180 yards on the ground over 33 carries.
"Tyler had a huge game for us," Strain said. "He just ran hard all night long. The offensive line did a great job for him."
Shoen gained 49 yards on four carries, Jesse Green gained nine yards on two carries and Alex Wiese got three carries, too.
Through the air, Stoneberg completed six of 11 attempts for 116 yards. Ellis Williams had a big night with three catches for 95 yards. Mike Rodriguez caught one pass for 22 yards and Sykes had a catch for seven yards.
Green had a 41-yard kickoff return.
Hastings plays host to White Bear Lake at 7 p.m. Friday. The Raiders enter the game with a 2-4 record. White Bear Lake, meanwhile, is 4-2.
"That's a good football team, but we're very capable of beating them," Strain said. "We're playing pretty well right now. We've still got an opportunity for a home playoff game if we keep playing well, so we have plenty to play for here."
The Bears are led in their option attack by quarterback Eric Gebeke. He has 61 carries on the season for 369 yards for an average of six yards per carry.
Running back Joe Nasvik has 53 carries for 342 yards and a 6.5 yard per carry average. Ridge Sackman has 35 carries for 286 yards and Nick Truen has 48 carries for 282 yards.
Hastings, meanwhile, continues to boast a couple leaders in the SEC stats.
Williams is the top receiver in the league with 29 catches and 550 yards. He leads the league in the number of receptions, yards and average.
Mellick ranks fourth in the conference in rushing with 509 yards on 120 carries.
Stoneberg is fourth in the league with 794 yards passing.