CALUMET - For the most part, it was business as usual Friday night at Agassiz Field with the Calumet football team hosting Hancock, but Copper King seniors Clark Kangas and Brendan Jacques made sure to give the Homecoming crowd an exciting twist on a decade- long tradition.
Calumet beat Hancock for the 10th straight time with a 47-20 final - the Copper Kings have not lost to the Bulldogs since 2003 - and Kangas and Jacques each returned a kick for a touchdown to the delight of the blue-clad supporters who loudly braved the cold for two-and-a-half hours.
"You would probably have to go back to the early 90s maybe, but that is certainly the first time it's happened with me," Calumet head coach John Croze said of two kick returns in one game. "We certainly work on the kicking phase very hard and it's very gratifying when it pays off. To get two of them tonight was awesome, especially in front of the Homecoming crowd."
Calumet’s Clark Kangas evades the grasp of Hancock’s Jordan LaTendresse and scores a touchdown in the first quarter of Friday’s game against Hancock at Agassiz Field. Kangas had two rushing touchdowns and a third on a kickoff return as Calumet defeated Hancock 47-20. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
Kangas took the first one back 85 yards with just 34 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give Calumet a 34-7 lead heading into halftime.
The senior running back caught the ball with his momentum moving forward and cut down the right sideline following a pair of devastating blocks from seniors Bryce Johnson and Lucas Lahnala. Kangas' runback came right after Hancock senior running back Ross Michaels gave the Bulldogs a little life with a 40-yard touchdown burst.
Whatever spirit Michaels had given the Bulldogs, Kangas ripped it right back.
Hancock 0 7 0 13 - 20
Calumet 14 20 0 13 - 47
CAL - Clark Kangas 5-yard run (run failed), 5:56
CAL - Kangas 1-yard run (James Sturos run), 1:17
CAL - Sturos 6-yard run (run fail), 5:06
CAL - Owen Kariniemi, 29 yard pass from Sturos (Sturos pass), 2:14
HAN - Ross Michaels 40-yard run (Brian Kass kick), 0:47
CAL - Kangas 85-yard kick return (run failed), 0:34
CAL - Sturos 2-yard run (kick failed), 10:55
HAN - Michaels 45-yard run (pass fail), 9:37
CAL - Jacques 73-yard kick return (kick good), 9:24
HAN - Shane Raasio 1-yard run (Kass kick), 3:29
First downs - Hancock 11; Calumet 18. Total offense - Hancock 254 (185 rush, 69 pass); Calumet 347 (249 rush, 98 pass). Rushing - Michaels, HAN, 18-113, 2 TD; Sturos, CAL, 13-89, 2 TD; Kangas, CAL, 15-48, 2 TD. Passing - Tanner Kearly, HAN, 5-11, 69 yards; Sturos, CAL, 6-8, 98 yards, 1 TD.
"I turned up the field and saw we had some great blocks and it was open on the edge," Kangas said. "I just took a break to the outside and it was open. It was great blocking. It was perfect."
Jacques responded with his own dazzling dash with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter. He too burst right behind a pair of blockers, and his also came immediately after a Michaels 45-yard touchdown run.
"It feels good, we finally got a game where we did a good job all over on the field," Kangas said. "It was some nice hard, smash football."
Calumet had Hancock on its back foot from the beginning.
Bulldogs quarterback Tanner Kearly fumbled a pitch attempt on Hancock's first drive of the game to give Calumet the ball inside the Hancock 30-yard line. Five plays later, Kangas scored his first touchdown of the game.
Calumet forced a punt on the next drive, and it took seven plays this time before Kangas found the end zone again. The senior running back finished with 48 yards on 15 carries, while the Copper Kings rushed for 249 yards on the day.
After another Hancock punt, Calumet marched 64 yards on 12 plays, culminating in a 6-yard touchdown run from quarterback James Sturos (13 carries for 89 yards).
"It certainly takes the wind out of your sails when you get a couple quick ones like that," Croze said. "And I think our in-your-face attitude puts teams on their heels too. Its hard to withstand that all game.
"Hats off to the line for just grinding out first downs and giving us the opportunity to punch in touchdowns," Croze added.
"That was a formidable defense across from us tonight and they certainly have some stout players over there."
After Sturos and senior wide receiver Owen Kariniemi hooked up for a 29-yard touchdown near the end of the first half, it was back to pounding the ball on the ground again in the final two quarters.
The speedy Jacques was able to get in on the rushing attack in the third quarter, and finished with 44 yards on five carries.
"The thing I am most proud about tonight is how we executed with intensity. I think we did that every play," Croze said. "That is what we hang our hat on."
The victory moves Calumet's record to 2-3 on the season - dropping Hancock to 1-4 - and keeps the Copper Kings alive in their quest for six wins and the automatic playoff berth.
"We have been trying to get in a playoff atmosphere because we can't lose any more games," Kangas said. "We are going to go game by game and this is a great start."