Woodbury's Joey Gerlach intercepted a pass as Stillwater's Connor McCormick dove at him. Gerlach returned the ball 85 yards for a touchdown late in the first half Friday at Woodbury. Photo: RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER email@example.com
Woodbury junior Joey Gerlach, the product of high school athletic royalty, broke open the Royals’ 45-0 rout of Stillwater.
Gerlach, a defensive back, hauled in a deflected pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown with less than one minute left until halftime. For Stillwater, it wasn’t just the play that hurt, but the playmaker. Gerlach was on the Ponies’ sophomore team last season before transferring to Woodbury.
“We were like, ‘Gerlach, you’ve got to make a play this week. You’ve got to show them that you made the right choice coming to Woodbury,’ ” senior inside linebacker Jack Bungarden said. “So when he made the pick, we were all so happy for him. He made a big play at the perfect time.”
Big plays are heredity.
Gerlach’s father, Adam, was a 2000 Hastings graduate who made the Star Tribune All Metro First Team in football and baseball. His mother, Bry Grandas, was an all-state soccer player at Woodbury.
“He’s a ballhawk,” coach Andy Hill said. “I wasn’t surprised. He gets to the ball and he’s fearless.”
Woodbury entered its game Friday against Stillwater with four consecutive victories in their series. The fifth, a 45-0 blowout, was decided by halftime.
The Royals scored two long touchdowns on their home turf with less than a minute to play before halftime and built a 31-0 lead.
Woodbury (2-0) and Stillwater (1-1) combined for 101 points in their opening week victories. But only the Royals kept the pace Friday. Senior quarterback Donald West ran the option well, gaining first half touchdowns on the ground and through the air.
The scoring pass, a 26-yard toss to senior Mac Lockner, came just 10 seconds before halftime. And it followed junior Joey Gerlach’s 85-yard interception return for a touchdown. Landing those combination punches put Woodbury in control.
Stillwater last defeated the Royals in 2015.
Check back later for more on the game.