Rock Reclaimed: Cougars take down Vikings in rivalry game

Winning quarterback senior Hunter Klietz holds the Monterey Rock trophy following the Cougars’ 27-23 win over Parker on Sept. 24, 2021.

David Holmquist, Criterion Adviser

The Monterey Rock is coming back to Craig.

On a cold and rainy Friday, Sept. 24 night at Monterey Stadium, the Cougars defeated the Parker Vikings 27-23.

They had to come from behind to do it.

With 6 minutes to go in the annual battle for the Monterey Rock, Craig was down to Parker, 23-20.

Facing a stiff wind and driving rain, the Cougars decided to throw the ball.

“We got good receivers. We got guys that make plays,” said winning quarterback Hunter Klietz. 

On their first play, the quarterback completed a 20-yard pass to Jake Schaffner.

“We faced a little bit of pressure,” said Klietz. “I knew Jake (Schaffner) would be down there somewhere. He’s gonna go up there and get it for me.”

On the next play, Klietz hit Schaffner again for a 50-yard touchdown.

A penalty took the six points off the board.

No problem.

Several plays later, senior running back Owen Shucha, who scored three TDs, rambled for a 26-yard score.

Kicker Lilli Rick hit the extra point, and the Cougars were up 27-23 with about 5 minutes left.

Going up four points was important. It meant that the Vikings would have to score a touchdown to win.

“I appreciate what (Lilli) has done, coming in and kicking for us,” said Kleitz. “We really didn’t have a kicker coming into the season, and now we do. And we got a great one.”

The game was close the whole way. Down 15-14 near the end of the first half, Craig recovered a Parker fumble inside the five-yard line.

Shucha scored to give Craig a 20-15 lead. The extra point attempt was partially blocked, but Craig had a lead going into the half.

Parker got the ball to start the third quarter and marched the ball down the field to score.

Following a successful 2-point conversion, they had the lead, 23-20.

The rain intensified, and both teams struggled to move the ball.

The Cougar’s quarterback was not worried.

“Our defense was going great the whole game,” said Klietz. “We needed to get that ball back.” 

“We knew we’d punch it in eventually.”

Owen Shucha made sure they did.

The defense ended Parker’s hopes with a fourth-down stop with three minutes to go.

The Cougars took over at midfield. A first down and three kneels later, and the victory was assured.

Fans rushed the field as players held the Monterey Rock trophy over their heads.

Craig is now 3-3 on the season and 3-1 in the Badger Large Conference.

They travel to Beaver Dam to play the 3-3 Beavers on Friday, Oct. 1.