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Woodbury gets first win of season as Royals drop Park

Woodbury celebrates a fourth-down stop. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)2 / 5
Donnell Rodgers rushed for four touchdowns against Park. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)3 / 5
Jack Kohlbeck and Nathan Invie celebrate a Kohlbeck interception. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)4 / 5
Jordan Jiles drags down Woodbury’s Brady Mundahl. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick) 5 / 5

Donnell Rodgers said the Royals had their best week of practice of the season leading up to its intradistrict bout with Park.

It showed, as the Royals delivered their best performance of the season, knocking off the Wolfpack 51-35 at Park Oct. 3 to gain their first victory of the season.

“We’ve talked about execution a lot and I felt like we really came out strong and executed the first half and we finished drives, even when they were with field goals,” Royals coach Andy Hill said. “So that was a big step in the right direction.”

Woodbury got its offense moving by feeding Rodgers in the ground game. They made sure to feed him enough to where there we no doubt he got his fill.

“I did get the ball a lot,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know if that was the plan, but I just really wanted it today. My line was blocking, everybody was doing their job and we executed really well.”

Well enough to the point where Rodgers was able to find the end zone three times in the first half as a rain, snow mixture fell throughout the contest.

“When you play a team that throws the ball as well as [the Wolfpack] do, you want to keep their offense on the bench,” Hill said. “And with this type of weather, we want to run the ball and establish the run, maybe a little play action, but we want to take up three or four minutes on drives, so they felt like they had to rush when they went out there. I don’t know if that worked out that way, but I liked our drives.”

Even the ones that didn’t end in Rodgers touchdowns in the first half ended in points, as Grand Olson split the uprights twice from 30-yards out in the first 24 minutes. He finished 3-for-3 on field goals in the game.

“It’s really big” to have a consistent kicker, Hill said. “He’s a great kid who’s worked really hard, so I’m proud of him.”

Park was only able to generate one big play in the first half, but it put the Wolfpack on the board as Brandon Alt found receiver Jeb Melson dashing up the middle of the field and Melson raced into the end zone for a 68-yard score.

But that was all Park could muster in the first half as the Royals led 27-6 at the break.

It was arguably the Royals’ best defensive half of the season.

“We were just playing hard and aggressive and keeping pressure on the quarterback so he doesn’t have time to throw,” Woodbury linebacker Dylan Granholm said, “executing our jobs.”

Woodbury kept its foot on the gas early in the second half. Rodgers scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a 70-yard scamper to pay dirt. The Royals extended their lead to 41-13 when Brady Mundahl found Jalen Morrison from one-yard out.

Mundahl finished the game with two scores through the air as Woodbury’s passing attack provided a balance alongside Rodgers’ running success.

“If our protection’s there, we’ve got some good receivers and Brady can get them the ball,” Hill said. “I think that’s what you started to see. Our protection gave us some time and guys were running open.”

Park provided a valiant comeback effort in the final quarter-plus of the contest, as its playmakers got going. Alt connected with Melson and Brandyn Tulloch for passing scores in the third quarter.

It ended up being a big game for Tulloch, who rushed in two touchdowns in the fourth, including a 39-yard gallop.

Tulloch’s final touchdown brought Park to within two scores, but the Wolfpack couldn’t inch any closer as Woodbury clinched its first tally in the win column.

The 51 point-effort was the Royals’ highest scoring total since 2012 as Woodbury didn’t commit a single turnover.

Granholm said the Park performance provided a good example of how Woodbury can win.

“I feel like that’s really a momentum pusher, too,” Rodgers said. “I feel like that’s going to help a lot for Stillwater and our other games.”

Both teams will hold their homecoming contests Oct. 10. Park hosts former Suburban East Conference foe Hastings, while the Royals welcome Stillwater to Woodbury.

“We’re excited to get them at our place for homecoming,” Hill said. “This is a team where we’ve talked all year about how we’ve just got to keep getting a little bit better every week and try to put ourselves in a position to make plays to win games. That’ll be the plan next week. Play good defense, run the ball well and if we do that, we’ll be in a position to hopefully compete at the end to win the game.”