For the first time since 2011, no county football squad will make a Section title game. Four teams made the semis. But their good seasons didn’t become special.
Section 1A 2-seed R-P (7-1) put up the first 42 points in handling 7-seed Kingsland (1-7) in the quarters 42-22. Jake Paulson (4-66, 2 TDs receiving), Landon Skalet (7-8, 88 yards, 2 TDs passing), Ethan Hermanson (11-76, TD rushing), Ethan Sense (9-71, TD rushing), Carter Weidemann (4-31, TD rushing), and Vinnie Mason (8-yard interception return TD) found pay-dirt for R-P. Kingsland was led by Ethan Fenske (17-22, 165 yards, 2 TDs, INT passing), Jackson Rindels (10-96, TD receiving, rushing TD), Dallas Jones (9-60 rushing), Reid Kruegel (4-49 receiving), and Lucas Howard (9-yard TD reception). The Knights finish at 1-8. Ninth-ranked R-P (2-seed, 8-1) then faced 11th-ranked BP (3-seed, 8-1) in a big semifinal. R-P got a late second quarter fumble recovery in the end zone by Peyton Morrison to lead at the half (12-7). BP scored on back-to-back possessions in the third to lead 21-12. Skalet then hit Paulson on two big pass plays, the last a 26-yard TD. The conversion was good, making it 21-20 (BP). In the fourth, after holding on the Blossom’s seventh incursion inside R-P’s 30, the Trojans marched. Skalet hit Paulson for 21 yards. A fourth down pass interference put the ball at the BP 20 (under 3:00). Skalet’s next pass for Paulson in the end zone was intercepted. BP ground out one first down. Time ran out. The Blossoms prevailed 21-20. The Trojans won 39-35 in week eight. Paulson (5-83, TD receiving, 3-25 rushing, interception) had R-P’s biggest plays, from Skalet (7-15, 137 yards, TD, 2 INTs passing). Hermanson (18-57, TD rushing) led a Trojans ground game. Sense (279 yards, 5 TDs in the regular season) had just 41 yards and didn’t record a fourth quarter carry (injury?). R-P ran for just 122 yards. They had nearly 300 in week eight. BP passed for 155 yards. They had nearly 300 in week eight. Blossom junior QB Seth Peterson (15-33, 155 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs passing, 13-124, TD rushing) was the difference. Matthew Pryor (10 yards) and Colin Lerum (17 yards) caught (the third quarter) TD passes. Max Romeo (11-81 rushing) helped the ground game. It’s the third straight year R-P had a one-point play-off game (fell 21-20 to Goodhue in 2015, beat FC 22-21 in 2016). R-P finishes at 8-2.
On the other side of the 1A bracket, FC (4-seed, 6-2) buzz-sawed W-K (5-seed, 4-4) in the quarters. The Falcons had first quarter scoring drives of two, three, one, and two plays, plus a Connor Dols 34-yard INT return TD. Senior Nate Haugerud had four first quarter, and five total, TDs (9-94, 2 TD rushing; 4-138, 3 TDs receiving). Senior QB Logan Corson (4-4, 138 yards, 3 TDs passing, rushing TD) had four scores. His first three passes were TD’s to Haugerud (41, 50, and 36 yards). Josh Peters (8-101, TD rushing), Ivar Wilmink (8-8 PATS, 25-yard FG), and Nick Whalen (safety) also put up points. FC led 35-0 after one, 49-0 at the half, and prevailed 61-12. The Falcons won 16-0 in week seven. FC then took on #3 Goodhue (1-seed, 9-0) in the semis. The Falcon defense battled valiantly, but Wildcat senior RB Mason Huemann (34-185, 3 TDs) was the man. Jack Gadient (9-12, 140 yards passing) and Ryan Schoenfelder (6-87 receiving) helped. FC had 50 yards total offense. The Falcons fell 20-0. They finish at 7-3. Goodhue (10-0) will take on BP (9-1) for the 1A title. The Wildcats won 35-13 in week five.
In 9-Man Section 1, #5 Houston (2-seed, 7-1) took out Lanesboro (7-seed, 2-5) in the quarters. Team double-H had a 32 point third to add to a 28-6 halftime lead. The final was 72-14. Zach Schneider (15-145, 3 TDs rushing), James Hongerholt (3-5, 150 yards, 2 TD passing, TD rushing), and Jaytin Millen (2-110 yards, 2 TDs receiving, TD rushing) led the way. Brady Happel (9-118, TD rushing), Logan Rodriguez (4-94, TD rushing), and Jacob Cripps (3-70, TD rushing) also scored. Houston had TD plays of 61, 66, 75, and 90 yards. Brett Wangen (16-118, TD rushing), Carson Schwichtenberg (7-14, 100 yards, TD, 2 INTs passing), and Andrew Luck (2-64, TD receiving) led Lanesboro. The Burros finish at 2-7. The ‘Canes (8-1) then hosted #4 Cleveland (3-seed, 8-1) in a big semifinal. The first half was defensive. Cleveland scored late to lead 6-0 at halftime. Houston tied things in the third quarter, a Millen 7-yard TD run. The rest of the game for the ‘Canes was forgettable. Their next three drives all ended in turnovers. Cleveland turned all into touchdowns. Clipper QB Carter Kopet threw the ball all over the place (30-47, 390 yards, 4 TDs passing). He had fourth down completions on four of five Cleveland scoring drives. The most critical was a 31-yard TD pass to Carter Brink, late in the third quarter, on 4th and 14, to make it an 18-6 game. Cleveland, last year’s 9-man State Runner-Up, won 33-6. Austin Plonsky (13-166, 2 TDs receiving) was Kopet’s best weapon. Brink (3-55, TD receiving, TD rushing), Danny McCabe (5-63, TD receiving), and Cade Olson (6-67 receiving) were other targets. Houston’s running game didn’t get going. The defense was seemingly always on the field. Schneider (20-94) and Millen (16-77, TD rushing) led that attack. The Hurricanes finish at 8-2.
On the other side of the bracket, M-C (5-seed, 4-4) took on GM (4-seed, 6-2) in the quarters. Total yards (M-C 396, GM 421) was close. Turnovers were not (M-C 6, GM 1). The Larks scored 30 points after Cougar miscues. GM prevailed 52-22. Drew Wyffels (16-149 rushing, 76-yard TD run, 7-12, 77 yards, TD, 2 INTs passing), Brenden Kerns (21-126, TD rushing), and Logan Richardson (4-yard TD reception) led the Cougars. Their season ends at 4-5. Zach Myhre (23-274, 5 TDs rushing) led GM. The Larks then fell 40-17 at Spring Grove. The #1 Lions (10-0) will take on #4 Cleveland (9-1) for the Section 1 9-Man title. SG won in week one 52-51 in overtime.
In Class AA, Chatfield (4-seed, 4-4) beat St. Charles (5-seed, 3-5) in the quarters. Kyle Nosbisch’s 35-yard TD run in the second quarter made it 14-6. Back-to-back interceptions followed. Nosbisch’s second TD run made it 20-6 (halftime). Carson Larrabee’s 26-yard TD run in the fourth was a dagger. Chatfield prevailed 27-14. Nosbisch (9-78, 2 TDs rushing), Gage Tuohy (24-99 rushing), and Larrabee (5-60, TD rushing) led the Gophers. Jacob Gillespie added a rushing TD. The Saints were held to under 200 yards offense. Chatfield then took its shot at top-ranked Caledonia (1-seed, 9-0). The Gophers bent a lot and sometimes broke in trailing 20-0 thru three quarters. Owen King (21-36, 279 yards, 3 TDs, INT passing, rushing TD) and company were too much. Caledonia prevailed 33-14. Gillespie hit Chance Backer on a 63-yard TD pass for Chatfield. Ben Ihrke had an 84-yard KOR TD, his second versus Caledonia. Nosbisch (19-74 rushing) was the top rusher. Chatfield’s season ends at 5-5.