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It's all about the ground game

Hastings starting quarterback Aaron Stoneberg looks for a teammate to pass to during the first half of Friday's game at home.

No matter the level, there's one thing football coaches from across the country stress: running the football on offense and stopping the run on defense.

Hastings had trouble doing both on Friday night, and ended up losing in its season opener, 35-0, to White Bear Lake.

Hastings, dealing with all kinds of injuries in the backfield, had 39 yards of rushing offense.

White Bear, meanwhile, piled up 280 yards on the ground.

"We couldn't run the ball and we couldn't stop the run," coach Dana Strain said. "That was the story of the game. We have to do a better job there. We have to do a better job up front running the football, and we have to do a better job stopping the run."

It certainly didn't help that sophomore running back Zach Anderson, called up in large part because of injuries to a few key upperclassmen, broke his collarbone after the team's first play from scrimmage. Anderson gained 12 yards on the play, the first of his varsity career. He will be out four to six weeks.

"The worst part of it is for Zach himself," Strain said. "He loses the majority of the year. We're hopeful he'll get to come back for a week or two at the end of the season and at least salvage some of his season."

The plan was for Anderson to have surgery early next week.

The injury gave Tate Sykes an opportunity for extending playing time. He ended up gaining 42 yards on the ground for the Raiders.

"You don't, truthfully, have much time to dwell on injuries," Strain said. "You simply call on the number of the next guy in line and expect that he will step up, which is exactly what Tate did. (He) ran the ball hard ... and ended up playing on both sides of the ball."

While the game got away from the Raiders, it was tight through the first quarter, as both teams were scoreless.

Hastings had the ball on the White Bear Lake 40 yard line early in the second quarter before a fumble that gave the Bears the ball at midfield. White Bear drove down and score the first six points of the game.

"We had some momentum and were doing some good things, then we shot ourselves in the foot," Strain said. "After that, we couldn't get anything going offensively. We had several three and outs, and that's where things went south."

The Bears ended up putting 21 points on the scoreboard before halftime, then added scores in the third and fourth quarters to pull away.

Hastings quarterback Aaron Stoneberg had five completions on 19 attempts for 80 yards. Zach Mellick had one completion for 11 yards.

Ellis Williams and Tony Hammes each caught two passes. Sykes and Ryan Doffing each had one reception.

Tyler Mellick, who is trying to get healthy so he can contribute at running back, had one carry for two yards. Jason Elliot also had one carry.

On defense, Doffing had one interception for the Raiders and made several tackles, Strain said.

The Bears, who run the option, didn't have much luck running up the middle against the Raiders.

"The defensive line did play well and (they) were able to limit (White Bear's) inside run game," Strain said. "We struggled more on defense with the perimeter run game so it is fair to say the D-line played well in spite of the large number of rushing yards allowed."

Players on the line included Peter Schultz, Josh Lohmann, Brandon Anderson, Isaac Eichmann, Travis Cysiewski and Jake Swenson.


Hastings plays at East Ridge on Friday night.

The Raptors earned their first win in school history on Friday, beating rival Woodbury, 47-27.

"They're a very big-play kind of team on both sides of the football," Strain said. "They're very athletic. We have to stop the run, obviously, and run the football better. I think we'll be able to do those things. In addition to that, we have to stop their big plays. They're a very explosive team."

"We will improve from week one to week two."