Screenshot 2023 10 07 at 8.51.20 am

Storm stomp C-I,
improve to 6-0


The formula to beat the Cambridge-Isanti football team is not necessarily difficult. Executing it, however, is far from easy.

The Bluejackets play a physical brand of football which is far from fancy, but one that can give opposing coaches fits. That is only the start of why Sauk Rapids-Rice head coach Phillip Klaphake was smiling wide after his team’s 24-12 victory on a chilly Friday night Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School Stadium.

The fact his team improved to 6-0 for the second time in three seasons may have contributed to his giddiness.

“Getting to 6-and-0 is really hard to do,” said Klaphake, whose team was coming off a 30-28 win over defending Class 5A champion Elk River. “We’re playing a lot of really good teams, so we’re really happy to be in this spot. When you keep winning, it puts pressure on you to keep playing well. That makes it fun.”

The win sets up an epic matchup Friday, Oct. 13 as the fourth-ranked Storm take their unbeaten record to Andover to face the sixth-ranked Huskies. Andover is 5-1 after a 43-0 thrashing of St. Francis Friday night, scoring 36 points in the first quarter. The Huskies lone loss was a 35-21 decision to Mankato West, which was Class 5A runner-up last year.

“It’s great because we’re playing a really good team and it makes those games really big,” Klaphake said. “Our kids have earned the right to play in pressure-packed scenarios.”

The Storm remained perfect by getting pair of first-quarter touchdowns from senior running back Shaun Walrath and used an efficient defense the rest of the way. Walrath scored on runs of 39 and two yards, the latter coming on fourth-and-goal. He finished 168 hard-fought yards on 26 carries and also had six catches for 119 yards.

A big key to beating the Bluejackets, a power running team, is getting ahead and forcing them to pass, which is not their strength.

That is exactly what SRR did, taking a 17-6 lead as Leif Rudnick nailed a 34-yard field on the last play of the first half.  The Storm defense yielded 240 yards rushing but limited C-I to 1-for-8 passing for 10 yards.

Sophomore quarterback Spencer Ackerman hooked up with Mason Sabraski for an 18-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Sabraski took advantage of the Bluejackets focusing much of their pass defense on Hudson Omoke, finishing with seven catches for 122 yards.

“It’s fun to walk around town and people say ‘Storm football is doing some really good stuff,’” Klaphake said. “It’s cool to have the community excited. It’s crazy how we’ve found a way to do some of these things. Do we have a lot of work to do? No doubt. But if you’re 6-0, that’s something worth being happy about.”

CI         6          0          6          0 – 12
SRR      14        3          7          0 – 24

SRR: Walrath 39 run (Rudnick kick)
SRR: Walrath 2 run (Rudnick kick)
CI: Braylon Davis 5 run (kick failed)
SRR: Rudnick 34 FG
SRR: Sabraski 18 pass from Ackerman (Rudnick kick)
CI: Levi Maurer 14 run (pass failed)

SRR: Rushing: Walrath 26-168, Dillon Miller 5-22. Passing: Ackerman 17-30-0 280. Receiving: Sabraski 7-122, Walrath 6-119, Omoke 3-31, Walker Loesch 1-8. Tackles: Braydn Kost 7-3 (1 TFL), Ben Ellerbusch 7-1, Walrath 3-1, Miller 2-3, Omoke 2-1, Carter Riedeman 2-1, Chris Pepin 2-0, Loesch 1-0, Xavier Thurston 1-1, Ethan Martin 1-0, Lincoln Rushmeyer 1-0, Anthony Camara 0-1 and Adan Valenzuela 0-1.