After hammering Rush City 54-14 Oct. 19, Braham not only clinched the GFPA Blue Conference championship but also locked in the No. 1 seed for this week’s Section 7A football playoffs.
The Bombers get to renew their rivalry with Ogilvie for their first playoff game, coming this Saturday at home in a 2 p.m. matinee special. The No. 4 seed Lions blanked No. 5 Barnum 25-0 in Tuesday’s opener to advance.
Ogilvie is led by 6’3”, 205 lb. senior quarterback Hunter Welinski and senior runningback Collin Mitchell running behind 6’4″ 305 lb. senior tackle Doug Lynch. They defeated Barnum twice this season, including taking a 14-12 road win two weeks ago. They also defeated East Central 20-7, a team the Bombers beat 57-14 in the season-opener.
The other 7A semifinals will pit No. 2 Deer River against No. 3 Cook County. Deer River, ranked 4th in the final Class A poll, worked past No. 7 East Central 55-32 on Oct. 25. Cook County hammered No. 6 Mesabi East 54-16 in their quarterfinal game.
Winners of Saturday’s semifinal games will match up in the Section 7A championship, held Thursday, Nov. 3 at 4:45 p.m. at Duluth Public School Stadium.
Braham 54, Rush City 14
Against the Tigers last Wednesday, the 5th-ranked Bombers got rolling early to stampede their winless rivals. Shaun Hollencamp opened the scoring by hauling in a 29-yard pass from Tyler Vaughan. RC answered back quickly with an 84-yard kick return to the end zone. But then the Bombers put the hammer down.
Twenty-four seconds later, Cory Ambrose scored on a 65-yard pass reception. The Braham defense held the Tigers in check, then the offense rolled again when Dylan Altendorf caught a 7-yard scoring pass for a 21-6 lead near the end of the first quarter.
The Bombers led 41-6 at the half when Vaughan ran for consecutive TDs on rushes of 15 and 19 yards. Ambrose followed with an 80-yard scoring sprint.
In the second half, Vaughan (160 rushing yards) added a 35-yard TD run, and Braham closed its scoring on a 4-yard pass from Sam Stigen to Anthony Bias. Ambrose finished with 122 rushing yards and 106 receiving yards. Vaughan was an efficient 5-of-6 in passing for 142 yards and the 3 TD.
Senior linebacker Kevin Strelow delivered 2.5 tackles-for-loss amid his 6 total tackles, and Marshall Sward returned from his season-long injury to post 6 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. Reserve defender Randy Braund came through with the Bombers’ lone interception. The Bombers out-gained the Tigers 547-96 in total yards.
The conference championship was the first for Bomber Football since 2006, the last year they were in the Great River.
GPFA Blue Div.
FINAL: Braham 5-0, 7-1; Pine City 4-1, 7-1; Hinckley-Fin. 3-2, 5-3; Crosby-Ironton 2-3, 3-5; Aitkin 1-4, 2-6; Rush City 0-5, 0-8.
Section 7A: Braham 7-1, Deer River 7-1, Cook County 6-1, Ogilvie 7-1, Barnum 5-2, Mesabi East 2-5, East Central 1-6.