GARRISON - The Garrison-Max football team kicked off its 2014 season by avenging its season-opening loss from a year ago.
The Troopers trounced Surrey 40-12 on Friday, exacting a bit of revenge on the Mustangs.
Surrey limped to a 1-7 finish last season, its only win coming in a 14-6 home triumph over Garrison-Max. The Mustangs were hoping for another season-opening win over the Troopers on Friday night.
Garrison-Max junior running back Nick Stiefel plows into the end zone Thursday, dragging a Surrey tackler with him. The Troopers scored five first-half touchdowns on their way to a 40-12 win in Garrison.
But it didn't happen. Quite the opposite, really.
The Troopers jumped all over Surrey from the start, piling up a substantial first-half lead on their way to a rout.
After a 3-5 finish in 2013, which saw G-M miss the postseason, fourth-year coach Jason Mattheis is keen to see his players build on Friday's win.
"The (Garrison-Max) football program hasn't been super successful the past 10-15 seasons, but to come out and get a win to start the season is gonna help our confidence level grow," he said. "Our players found out today that the things that we're doing actually work, so they can build off of that.
"We're gonna be able to come out next week in practice and carry ourselves differently because we know we can be successful."
The Troopers found the end zone early in the first quarter through sophomore quarterback Noah Sloka, who carved his way through the Surrey defense for a two-yard scoring run.
By the end of the first half, it was 34-0 in favor of the host. Junior running back Nick Stiefel was a key part of that.
He had 79 rushing yards before the halftime whistle blew, accounting for more than 50 percent of G-M's first-half offensive production. His 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter made it 27-0.
Mattheis credits his offensive line for those kind of numbers. So does Sloka.
"Our line does a great job of blocking. They gave me so much time to throw a pass," he said. "We did great tonight, but we'll come back Monday and get ready to step it back up for next week."
Said Mattheis: "Everything that we've done over the last four years has been built through our young kids. We've got a really strong offensive line - we start four seniors and a sophomore. We feel that's the strength of our program, and they're gonna be able to determine what happens during the game."
G-M was productive offensively, but a portion of their points came from the defensive side of the ball.
Moments after a Sloka touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Gabe Lassila in the first quarter, senior Keegan Swanson took an interception to the house to make it 20-0.
In the second half, it took the Troopers less than three minutes to accomplish the same feat, this time through junior linebacker Nick Thompson.
On Sept. 5, the Troopers host Central McLean while Surrey travels to Des Lacs-Burlington.
Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.