Cal Miles (80) and his brother, Chas, team up for a brotherly tackle during Catholic Central’s Metro Classic Conference win against visiting Shoreland Lutheran Friday (Mike Ramczyk/Standard Press).

By Mike Ramczyk

The Catholic Central football team used some smothering defense to pick up its second win of the season last Friday night at the Topper Bowl.

Whereas, the Shoreland Lutheran Pacers weren’t prepared and fell into an early hole, Toppers head coach Tom Aldrich said the strong performance wasn’t an accident.

“It feels great,” Aldrich said following his team’s 20-6 Metro Classic Conference victory. “We had a good week of practice. We’ve been improving in most aspects of our game.”

“It’s always nice when you can win, and you’re happy with how you played, but the kids and the coaches know there are certain things to work on. It gives us a reason to practice next week.”

The host Hilltoppers (2-2, 1-1 MCC) reeled off a 67-yard touchdown strike from Brandon Pum to David Doerflinger the first quarter. The Hilltoppers followed up with a 3-yard Reid Muellenbach scoring run in the second quarter, moments after Shoreland (1-3, 0-2) lost a fumble.

Aldrich said the Topper offense took advantage of Shoreland mistakes for the long touchdown pass from Brandon Pum to David Doerflinger.

“They were loading the box and trying to take away our run, and we were able to get a long pass play off to loosen them up,” Aldrich said. “We threw just enough to keep them honest.”

Shoreland, however, made it a game in the third quarter when quarterback Sawyer Smith rolled right and found Ryan Strutz for a 3-yard touchdown to cut the Topper lead to 13-6.

A long, weaving kickoff return by Shoreland’s Konnor Hill set up the score.

However, Muellenbach answered immediately with a 68-yard sprint to the end zone to help the Toppers pull away with 6 minutes left in the third.

The Pacers penetrated inside the Topper 20 late in the game, but Catholic Central forced a turnover on downs and ran out the clock.

Shoreland’s run game was non-existent, as the Toppers held them to 40 yards on 37 carries.

Catholic Central ran for 114 yards for the night and finished with 192 total yards.

Pum was 2-for-4 for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Muellenbach led all rushers with 105 yards on 12 carries.

Doerflinger caught two passes for 78 yards.

Defensively, the Toppers had an impressive eight tackles for loss, led by four from Muellenbach, who added 7.5 tackles.

Chas Miles led the squad with 9.5 tackles.

Amborn added 6.5 tackles, and Gabe Stitch had 5.5, and each player had a tackle for loss.

Aldrich is optimistic about the rest of the season.

“The best thing is we’re getting better,” he said. “I thought we played really well last week. Shoreland came in with a good game plan, and they made it difficult for us to do what we wanted offensively.”

“But we were able to get enough done. Hopefully we can keep getting better at that, and we’ll see where it takes us.”

For the full story, see the Sept. 19 print edition of the Standard Press