Sweet taste of victory

Ely dominates first half, Anderson scores three times as Wolves down Carlton-Wrenshall in Gerzin’s coaching debut

by Tom Coombe
The Ely Timberwolves got off to a strong start in their season-opener, and it ensured a victorious start to the 2021 season.
Ely scored on its first three possessions en route to a 26-6 high school football victory over visiting Carlton-Wrenshall last Friday night.
Junior running back Erron Anderson ran for over 100 yards and three touchdowns, senior quarterback Mason Davis had two drive-extending fourth-and-long scrambles and senior Eddie Prijatel recorded 15 tackles to lead the Wolves, who gave Louie Gerzin a win in his first game on the sidelines as head coach.
It was also the first time players from Ely and Northeast Range came together for football, thanks to a last-minute cooperative agreement formed after the Nighthawks were unable to field a team this fall.
They gave an audience of about 300 people at Ely School Stadium a lot to cheer about, and Gerzin and his troops were a satisfied bunch at the end of the night.
“They were fired up, very excited,” said Gerzin, a 2014 Ely graduate and former Timberwolves football standout. “Especially the Northeast Range guys. Everyone was excited to get a win.”
Davis, who threw for 100 yards, completed an 11-yard pass to Harry Simons on the Wolves’ first play from scrimmage and Ely marched 65 yards in short order.
Anderson, who wound up with 138 yards, plunged in from two yards out to put the Wolves on the board but the drive was extended by a fourth-and-eight scramble by Davis for a first down.
The drive put Ely on top and the Wolves soon got the ball back after a fumble recovery by senior Chase Sandberg.
The Wolves were stalled by penalties on the ensuing possession, but a Carlton pass interference penalty gave the hosts a break.
Again Davis kept the march going by scrambling 13 yards to his left on fourth-and-eight, with Anderson capping the drive with another short touchdown run.
Carlton moved the ball on its next possession, but a Simons interception snuffed out a potential scoring drive.
The senior picked off a pass at the Ely 10 and returned it 30 yards, and the Wolves’ offense chewed up the remaining 60 for a third touchdown of the half.
Davis scored on a quarterback sneak and completed a two-point conversion pass to make it 20-0.
That’s how the half ended and the Wolves were in command.
Ely had the ball for at least 17 minutes in the first half, and time of possession was another key factor in the win, according to Gerzin.
The first-year coach addressed the two scrambles by Davis and said “not only did they keep drives going but they allowed us to keep the ball in our hands. The more we keep it in our hands the better.”
The Wolves put things away with another scoring drive in the third quarter, with Anderson plowing in from the two to make it 26-0.
Carlton-Wrenshall, which suited up only 10 players, managed a fourth-quarter touchdown but by then the outcome was decided and the Wolves were on their way.
“I thought it was a really good opener,” said Gerzin. “For the most part we played a pretty clean game. I thought a few times we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties, but we cleaned things up and played some pretty clean football.”
It was a more traditional start of the season for the Wolves, after a 2020 season that started in October and had attendance limitations and other COVID-19 restrictions.
The Wolves were also starting anew with Gerzin taking over for Cory Lassi, who stepped down as head coach after the 2020 season.
It made for some intrigue going into the opener.
“My only expectation was I had expected our athletes to play hard and they did,” said Gerzin.
The Wolves were set to take on a powerhouse in state-ranked Mt. Iron-Buhl Friday. The Rangers racked up 76 points on the way to a season-opening win over Hill City-Northland and are expected to be the top contender in Section 7 9-Man.
After the Rangers, Ely travels to Bigfork for a Sept. 17 matinee, starting at 2:30 p.m.