Smash, run, dive remain Mahnomen meal ticket

  • Article by: RON HAGGSTROM
  • Star Tribune
  • November 19, 2011 - 12:57 AM

Mahnomen isn't one to reach into its back of tricks. The Indians' offense is as old-fashioned as they come: Run and then run some more.

The No. 2-rated Indians amassed 333 yards on the ground -- bringing back memories of Brent Miller -- in a 32-12 victory Friday over unranked Sleepy Eye St. Mary's in the Class 1A semifinals. Mahnomen (13-0) will be seeking its seventh state championship when it plays the winner of No. 3 Dawson-Boyd (12-0) and No. 8 Blooming Prairie (11-1) in the Prep Bowl.

"All we do on offense is dive, dive, dive," said Indians senior running back Avery Fairbanks, who is nearing 1,600 yards on the season after rushing for 129 yards on 26 carries. "The offensive line does all the dirty work, and Jacob [Pavek] and I get all the credit. The credit goes to our offensive line."

Just like it did in the Miller era. Miller ran for a Prep Bowl record 299 yards in 1993 during the Indians' run of four consecutive Class C state championships.

"Our tradition is smash-mouth football," Fairbanks said. "It hasn't changed."

Unlike 20 years ago, the current Mahnomen squad has more than one weapon. Junior quarterback Pavek, also a 1,000-yard rusher, ran for 173 yards on 17 carries and all four touchdowns Friday.

Pavek rolled up 124 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Indians built a 24-6 lead. He scored on runs of 1, 25 and 12 yards.

Early in the fourth quarter, he ran a quarterback sneak on a second-and-1 call and broke loose for a 37-yard touchdown.

"Brent was my fifth- and sixth-grade football coach," Pavek said. "He liked to let us throw the ball once in a while, but we still ran it a lot."

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