In Week 5 of football action in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference, the Eastern Division teams saw one team remain unbeaten in Divisional play and a playoff picture that slowly develops as the season moves into October. Mesabi Range College was able to knock of Central Lakes College to stake a claim in the top rung in the Division, while Rochester CTC joins the Norsemen and the Raiders above the .500 mark in both divisional and overall categories. Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College was able to garner their first Divisional win, thanks in large part to an outstanding individual defensive outing in the Thunder secondary. A handful of student-athletes factored into their teams success at the highest level this past Saturday, and for their efforts, have been tabbed 'Player-of-the-Week' for their performance.
Special Teams Player-of-the-Week:
Yellowjacket kicker, Connor Stenberg, was called upon often by Rochester Community & Technical College in Saturday's 57-35 win over Vermilion Community College in Ely, Minnesota. The freshman from nearby Stewartville, connected on a 25 yard field goal and went 6-of-8 on PAT's for RCTC, en route to accounting for nine of Rochester's points against the Ironmen. Stenberg also showed a strong leg in booting 10 kickoffs for a 51.6 average including putting one into the endzone for a touchback. Rochester moved to 2-1 in the Eastern Division, and 3-2 overall. Stenberg and his teammates will travel north again next week to line up against Mesabi Range College in Virginia, Minnesota, with the chance to create a logjam at the top of the Eastern Division race. Stenberg is 2-for-2 in field goals and 11-of-16 in PAT's for 2017.
A pair of important victories in the Eastern Division occurred this past Saturday, with Mesabi Range College knocking off MCAC front-runner Central Lakes College and Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College picking up their first win in the Division over Itasca Community College. Strong defense led to victories for both teams and the defensive leaders of each squad have been tabbed as Co-Defensive Players-of-the-Week. Tyrik Carickle, a sophomore from Junction City, Kansas, had a career day at strong safety for the Thunder. Carmickle was a part of 14 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles. Add on two tackles for loss and forcing a safety in the one-point FDL win and clearly Carickle was a key performer in the outcome. In the Mesabi Range triumph over Central Lakes, Jalen Wilkerson of Monroe, Michigan tallied 10 solo tackles and forced a fumble in the Norseman victory. Wilkerson, a linebacker, had an interception late in the game that effectively put MRC in the drivers seat for the rest of the game - and possibly - the top spot in the Eastern Division. For their terrific performances, Wilkerson and Carickle are MCAC Football Co-Defensive Players-of-the-Week.
Rochester Community and Technical College put up a season-high 57 points on Saturday in Ely against Vermilion Community College and running back/receiver Cazz Martin was a major factor in the Yellowjacket's offensive display. The sophomore from Rochester had 19 rushes for 129 yards, resulting in an average 6.8 yards a carry. Martin scored a touchdown and also added a 61 kick-off return for RCTC in the win. The John Marshall High School product - and Week Five Offensive Player of the Week - is currently sixth in the MCAC in Yards-Per-Game and has 3 touchdowns so far in 2017. Rochester CTC will travel to Virginia, Minnesota to take on Division leading Mesabi Range College next Saturday, October 7th. Kickoff is set for 1:30pm.
Other Notable Eastern Division Performances:
Central Lakes College linebacker Arron Martin, a sophomore from Brainerd, had nine tackles, including two tackles-for-loss against Mesabi Range on Saturday.
Samer Sinclair, a defensive back from Brooklyn, New York, put together 3 solo tackles, 3 assists and a sack for RCTC against Vermilion Community College. He also had a pass break-up, recovered a fumble and was a part of two blocked punts for the Yellowjackets.
Breon Jackson, a quarterback at Vermilion Community College, had 376 yards passing in a 25-of-59 performance against Rochester, while teammate Glenn Smith rushed for 133 yards on the day.
Itasca Community College's Josh Hebert picked off a pass and ran it 66 yards for a touchdown for the Vikings.