The 2019 season came to a close last night for the Pine City Dragons when they fell 21-6 in Milaca. Pine City came in as the #5 seed and was trying to play spoiler to the #4 ranked Wolves.
Everyone knew this was going to be a tough, defensive game with a lot of running between the tackles and these two teams did not disappoint. Milaca came into the game on a three game winning streak where they had only allowed a combined three points in those three games. The weather definitely was more fit for a defensive battle too with a kickoff temp of 39 degrees with 15 mph winds.
Neither team was able to get on the scoreline until 7:44 to go in the second quarter when Milaca senior Logan Molacek scored on a 15-yard reverse to put Milaca up 7-0. The score remained 7-0 at halftime and even though Pine City had yet to put anything together offensively the Dragons defense kept them in the game.
In the second half, Pine City was not able to move the football against that stout Milaca defense and Milaca's offense was finally able to break through and put some points up on the Dragons. The Wolves made it a two possession game with 4:04 to go in the 3rd quarter on a 2-yard run by Henry Truebenbach. Milaca added one more score in the 4th quarter as junior quarterback Braden Hardy scored on a 9-yard keeper.
Pine City came back strong after that touchdown scoring on a 40 yard pass from Konnor Jusczak to Duke Waxberg, but unfortunately it was not enough to spark a comeback and Pine City would fall 21-6.
Pine City finished the season with a 2-7 record including wins over Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin and Aitkin. The Dragons were ultimately better than their record showed with several close games that could've been wins if one or two more plays would've gone the Dragons way.
Milaca improved to 5-4 on the year and will travel to Annandale on Saturday to take on the #1 seeded Cardinals. #2 Mora is in the other semifinal against #6 Foley.
The Dragon season comes to a close and they will have a lot of spots to fill next year as they graduate 11 seniors. Key offensive positions will open up like Jusczak's quarterback position. Duke Waxberg and Tryston West will leave graduate leaving questions on who will be the team's key running backs. Defensively they lose leading tackler JJ Preston along with key defensive linemen Christian Fromm and Vinny David. Other players who will graduate include Ahtto Berg, Tucker Dalen, Tanner Wicktor, Alex Laven, and Jordan Johnson.
Pine City fans will be interested in seeing which of the underclassmen will step up big for Pine City in 2020.
Photo Credit: John Olson