It won’t just be a state season. Fillmore Central football, in uncharted territory (it’s first state playoff), will get a chance to play in the state semis at U.S. Bank Stadium. In a battle of undefeated teams in the state quarters, the #2 in Class A Falcons (Section 1 Champ, 11-0) stopped #1 Lester Prairie (Section 2 Champ, 11-0) on 4th and three at the Falcon 38 with 1:13 in the game to secure a tense victory, 18-16. Falcon d-lineman Gunner Benson and Henry Liew plus Bryce Corson all combined on the tackle. Said stand wasn’t the Falcon defense’s only big stop, as they tried to subdue a physical Bulldog running attack. Just one series earlier, Falcon junior Luke Hellickson wrangled 5’11” 195-pound stud running back Tanner Scheevel on a 4th and 8 fake punt at the Falcon 43, stopping it short of the sticks. FC subsequently was in position to run out the clock. The Falcons made LP’s 15 and had 2nd and six with under three left. The Bulldogs were down to one timeout. A predominantly running team, time wasn’t on their side. A Falcon first down would salt the game away. But an FC fumble, Bulldog recovery, gave Lester Prairie new life. They moved the ball 40 yards before FC’s interior line stuffed Scheevel on the game clinching fourth down play. It was a game where FC never trailed. They stopped LP’s first drive. FC’s first possession went 63 yards in 12 plays. Senior QB Dillon O’Connor capped things with a 5-yard TD run for a 6-0 lead. The TD was the drive’s fourth third down conversion. In the second quarter, following a big defensive stand that stuffed LP at the four, FC went 96 yards in 16 plays! Bryce Corson ran it in from two yards out to make it 12-0 with 1:47 left before halftime. And the Falcons were set to receive the second half kick-off. But LP got good field position to start their ensuing drive (41), and got big chunks from the hard-running Scheevel to make the FC red zone. On 1st and 10 from the 18, Scheevel’s throw was defensed and deflected, but right into the arms of Logan Lambrecht for the fortuitous TD (0:19). The conversion run succeeded, leaving FC up 12-8 at halftime. The Falcons then opened the second half going 64 yards in 11 plays. A 4th and eight O’Connor to Corson 12-yard pass helped set up O’Connor’s second TD run of the game (1-yard). FC built an 18-8 lead. Their next drive made LP’s red zone but ended in an interception and long return. FC’s defense got a resultant Corson interception. Early in the fourth, Scheevel broke free for a 38-yard TD run. His ensuing conversion run closed FC’s lead to 18-16, leading the dramatic ending. The game was a contrast in styles. FC was the speed team, rarely running up the middle, attacking the perimeter while throwing with the gunslinger O’Connor. LP went double tight to pile most of its yards up the middle or off the left side. FC ran for 67 yards and passed for 257 (324 total). LP passed for 39 yards but ran for 244 (283 total). O’Connor (20 of 35, 257 yards, INT passing) zipped passes here and there whilst rushing for two TDs. Corson (8-131 receiving, 16-43, TD rushing), Chase Christianson (5-65 receiving), and Hellickson (5-40 receiving) each caught a bunch of balls. Corson was the leading Falcon rusher while tallying nine total first downs (including seven through the air). FC’s offensive line of Garrett Gossman, Gunner Benson, Will Parker, Tyler Mayer, and Atlee Hershberger didn’t allow LP to sniff pressure or sacks of O’Connor. LP’s Scheevel, whose father Ross was a member of FC’ first section title loss in 1993, carried a heavy load (32-206, TD rushing, 18-yard TD pass) amassing a majority of LP’s yards. Trevor Schauer had a big drive stopping interception and 51-yard return for the Bulldogs. The #2 Falcons (12-0) moved on to a date with #10 Minneota (10-2, Section 5A champ) in the semis. The Vikings beat 35-7 Breckinridge in the quarters.
About Paul Trende