Giovanelli makes fifth interception to lead the state
Current Chaska quarterback Jamarrius Courtney ran for four touchdowns in a 28-7 win at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, his former team, spoiling the Red Knight’s home opener Sept. 16.
Courtney finished with 131 yards on the ground in addition to completing 5-of-7 passes or 99 yards.
After a big run on the opening offensive play of the game, Courtney had the first of three snaps sail over his head. A sack by the Red Knights’ defense gave way to Courtney running behind his offensive line for a 2-yard touchdown.
The BSM defense appeared to have the Hawks on the run in their end zone on the next drive but Chaska ultimately managed to punt the ball away.
BSM junior quarterback Nirvaan Yogarajah connected with 6-foot-4 sophomore Luke Guggenberger on a 10-yard touchdown to get the home team on the scoreboard with 7:44 left to play.
BSM senior running back Jon Gettel provided a solid effort against one of the premier defenses in Class 5A.
St. Louis Park
St. Louis Park (1-2) came up short against Two Rivers in a 20-15 loss at St. Louis Park Stadium Sept. 16, despite another impressive game by senior Stefano Giovanelli.
Giovanelli made his state-leading fifth interception and on the other side of the ball caught six passes for 139 yards including a 75-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Declan Gaines to help build a 15-14 halftime lead.
Giovanelli returned a pair of interceptions in the third quarter against Jefferson the previous week for a touchdown, finishing the evening with three interceptions.
Against Two Rivers, Park’s offense was shut out in the second half despite drives of eight and nine plays.
Meanwhile, Two Rivers converted on fourth down covering all 16 yards needed for the first down and went on to score the go-ahead touchdown with 90 seconds left.
“This was a tough one to take,” coach Jason Foster said about losing a second close game in the young season. “It’s a mix of good to be in those positions at the end but we’ve got to finish them out. Gotta be able to finish in the second half and we didn’t score.”
Gaines completed 14-of-32 passes for 199 yards on the night with one interception, plus the big-time touchdown connection.
Park continued to run the ball with the contrasting styles of the power of senior Jimmy Hager and the elusiveness of sophomore AJ Foster.
“We knew there were going to be some growing pains with Declan but he shows some good things in practice,” Foster said about Gaines, who is only in his first season of what could be three years in the program. “The guys around him are constantly encouraging him because he is our varsity quarterback and will grow over these three years. His future is bright and it is on me to limit certain situations and just pick those spots to utilize him.”
Hager had 28 carries as the lead back, running for 75 yards and one touchdown. Foster had nine carries for 11 yards. Giovanelli added three carries for 5 yards.
“We like the number of carries but we need to bring up that yardage,” Foster said. “We missed some gaps and assignments and as first-year varsity running backs that will improve as the season goes.
Foster continues to praise the job defensive coordinator Rob Griffin has done with the unit to create seven interceptions and seven sacks in just three games.
After losing starting safety Ben Bauer to a broken arm during the preseason scrimmage, Giovanelli added some cornerback duties to his role in the secondary.
On Friday, Bryson Huntley led Park with 15 total tackles. Henry Bendickson and Joey Falzone had 10 and nine total tackles, respectively.
Falzone added two sacks, while Jair Romero forced one fumble and Nate Benishek picked up an interception.
Park will visit Benilde-St. Margaret’s for a noon kickoff Saturday, Sept. 24. The Red Knights will celebrate homecoming.
Park won 31-21 last season and the Red Knights won their last meeting at BSM 35-13, which came in 2018.
Follow Jason Olson on Twitter @Jason0lson or @SunSportsJason.