FIELD TWP- T.J. Chiabotti is a marked man, a high school running back who might as well replace the number on his jersey with a target. Teams know that their best shot against the North Woods …
FIELD TWP- T.J. Chiabotti is a marked man, a high school running back who might as well replace the number on his jersey with a target. Teams know that their best shot against the North Woods Grizzlies is to find a way to slow him down.
Chisholm learned last Friday just how hard that task can be, as Chiabotti exploded on the Grizzlies’ home turf for more than 300 yards of offense and seven touchdowns in just over two-and-a-half quarters of action in a 60-23 drubbing of the Bluestreaks.
There was little hint of the rout to come in the first quarter, when the two teams combined for 35 points.
Chisholm was on the move from the start, mixing passes and runs to move from their own 35 to a first-and-ten at the Grizzlies 36. But Chiabotti stepped in to swipe quarterback Dom Olson’s pass on the next play and raced all the way to the end zone for his second pick-six of the season. Chiabotti also scored the conversion, putting North Woods up 8-0 with less than three minutes elapsed on the clock.
Unfazed, Olson went right back to the air on the Bluestreaks’ next possession, which lasted just 40 seconds. Olson first hit Jude Sundquist for a big gainer from the Chisholm 47 to the North Woods 9, and the pair connected again for a touchdown on the second and final play of the drive. The Grizzlies blocked the point-after kick, leaving the score 8-6.
North Woods wasted little time in its own response, with an 80-yard scoring drive. Ty Fabish connected with Olin Nelson on a 24-yard pass play setting up a 35-yard Chiabotti touchdown jaunt. Fabish passed to Jared Chiabotti for the conversion and a 16-6 lead.
Chisholm answered again in less than a minute. After the Grizzlies stuffed a run at the Chisholm 30, Olson found Sundquist deep along the sideline for a 70-yard shocker score, and the point-after made the score 16-13.
Driving from their own 20 to the Chisholm 20 on the next possession, the Grizzlies found themselves going in reverse, with a holding penalty and a sack setting up second-and-26 at the 36. T.J. Chiabotti got 11 of those yards back on two runs, setting up fourth-and-15 from the 25.
Fabish took the snap and rolled right, momentarily taking the spotlight off Chiabotti. The North Woods back slipped into the defensive backfield, grabbed a pass from Fabish, and threaded his way to the end zone for his third touchdown of the quarter, posting the Grizzlies to a 22-13 lead.
The slugfest came to an end abruptly early in the second quarter when Olson suffered a game-ending shoulder injury on a tackle out of bounds. Without their ace signal caller, Sundquist stepped in at quarterback and immediately threw a drive-ending interception courtesy of the Grizzlies’ Eric Aune.
With T.J. Chiabotti doing most of the damage, the Grizzlies marched from their own three to the Chisholm 18. Taking the ball around right end, Chiabotti broke through a trio of would-be tacklers at the 10 and ran in for his fourth touchdown of the night. He tacked on the two-point conversion for a 30-13 lead with just under eight minutes remaining in the half.
It took only ten seconds for the Bluestreaks to strike back this time, as Sundquist fielded the bouncing kickoff and raced straight down the middle of the field for a touchdown. The point after left the Grizzlies still on top, 30-20.
Jared Chiabotti got the call on three consecutive plays in the next series for North Woods, toting the ball from the Grizzlies’ 36 to the Chisholm 21. From there it was T.J. time, with another right-side sweep and another touchdown to extend the lead to 36-20.
The Grizzlies forced a Chisholm punt on the next possession, and Aune’s return gave North Woods good field position at their own 48. One play later the ball was at the Chisholm 10 after a long T.J. Chiabotti run. Two plays later Chiabotti crossed up the defense by starting right and then cutting back against the grain for a 10-yard touchdown, his sixth of the half. Fabish connected with Aune for the conversion and a 44-20 lead that the Grizzlies carried into the break.
Fabish found Aune again on the Grizzlies’ opening series of the second half, a 42-yard catch-and-run to the Chisholm 23. North Woods drove down to the two-yard-line, but a false start penalty and a sack left them with third-and-goal from the 20. The next play could have been called from the concession stand – T.J. Chiabotti, sweep right, touchdown. Jared Chiabotti scored the two-point conversion for a 52-20 lead with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Reserves from both teams saw extensive action from that point forward. Grizzlies running back Jake Swanson ripped off several nice runs, including a one-yard plunge for the team’s final touchdown. Quarterback Jonah Burnett tossed a pass to Lane Kneen for the conversion.
One final treat was in store for the fans when Chisholm called time out with six seconds left to give their kicker, Nathan Wangensteen, a shot at a 51-yard field goal. His kickoffs to the end zone for touchbacks showed he had the leg, and Wangensteen didn’t disappoint, knocking the ball through the goalposts with a kick that drew cheers and applause from home and visiting fans alike as the game ended with the score 60-23.
Grizzlies Head Coach Joel Anderson gave kudos to the guys in the trenches who paved the way for Chiabotti’s big night.
“If you look at our offensive line, we’re pretty solid across the board,” Anderson said. “These are guys that have put in quite a bit of time in the off-season and they’re very athletic in their own right. We had guys back in normal position, compared to week one, and we were able to move guys where we needed them to be. We’re playing fast and strong offensively, and it’s a nice combination to have. We made nice holes for our backs, we gave Ty time to pass. They played a very good game.”
T.J. Chiabotti slashed the Bluestreaks’ defense for 306 rushing yards on only 20 carries, a 15.3 yards-per-carry average, and caught one 25-yard touchdown pass to go with his five rushing touchdowns. And any team would have been happy to have the 112 yards rushing and 36 receiving yards Jared Chiabotti posted for the game.
“You really can’t say enough about T.J.’s intangibles,” Anderson said. “He’s very, very challenging to bring down. And then off of that, Jared is equally as challenging in his own right, coming off play action or anything else. If he has any space, it’s very challenging to even get a hold of him. We have a very nice combination there when we’re able to mix it up.”
After being shackled in the first game against Rock Ridge, Fabish completed six of eight passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
“With his accuracy and his timing he looks like a senior who’s been out there doing it for a while,” Anderson said. “It was good to see Ty get things rolling.”
The Grizzlies are now 1-1 on the season. North Woods was scheduled to be back on the road on Friday with a game at Deer River.