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Letter Werks
"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Gophers dome-bound!

Fri, Nov 15th, 2013
Posted in All Sports

It’s one thing to make the state football tournament, to be one of the eight section champions. It’s another to get past the neutral site quarterfinal game, and make your way to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Well the Chatfield Gophers won’t need warm clothes for their next game. They will need turf shoes. They are Dome-bound. The Gophers (10-1) didn’t have too much trouble with Jackson County Central (10-1) in the quarters. Booming with confidence after beating Caledonia, Chatfield used its modes-operandi this season, run the ball and play great defense, to down the Huskies. But it was a different star in the running game. The defense also did more than just limit scores. They scored themselves, multiple times.

Standout TB Jake Neis had probably his worst statistical game of the season (15 carries, 26 yards, TD). With JCC concentrating on him, junior FB Alex Bradt damaged the Section 3AA champions. His middle probing began on the Gophers first possession. Bradt, a 5’11” 175-pounder, took a hand-off up the gut, churned his feet until there was no reason not to turn on the afterburner. Sixty-three yards later, it was 6-0 Gophers. JCC got that score back in the second quarter. A healthy diet of Keegan Moore and Paden Moore allowed Huskie QB Shadrach Wacker to boot around end for a 6-yard run (6-6). But it was all downhill from there for JCC, Wacker. Chatfield scored on their next possession, in the last minute of the first half. A Bradt 9-yard run on 4th and six helped set up a 22-yard Nate Skare to Jayme LaPlante TD pass. The Gophers took a 12-6 lead to intermission.

Out of the break, Wacker’s nightmare began. He had three turnovers in the final 24:00. All led to Gopher TD’s. On the Huskies second play, Wacker ran right, but was hit by LaPlante. The ball popped loose and Chatfield recovered at the JCC 16-yardline. Four plays later, Neis found pay-dirt from 5-yards way (19-6). In the 4th quarter, after a 47-yard Skare punt pinned JCC at their own 3-yardline, Dalton Schwier forced a Wacker fumble. LaPlante fell on the loose pigskin in the end zone for the 0-yard TD (25-6). On the Huskies next offensive play, Wacker was intercepted by A.J. Riley, the thieving hero against Caledonia. Riley then sixed it, from 47-yards out. Without nearly the drama as the Section title game, and with almost a half a quarter to cherish it, the Gophers whipped Jackson County Central 32-6 to clinch a berth in the Class AA semifinals.

Bradt was the Gopher’s offensive leader with 13 carries for 124 yards and the TD. From there, Chatfield’s offense was okay. They finished with a middle-of-the-road 227 total yards. But the Gopher ‘D’ held JCC to 197 yards including a mere two through the air. The 195 rushing yards came on 51 carries (less than four per attempt). They forced four turnovers, two of which directly resulted in scores, and had a trio of sacks. It’s the eighth time in 12 games the Gopher D has limited an opponent to just one end zone trip or less. They move forward to meet Hawley. The Nuggets downed Holdingford 29-22 in their quarterfinal. It’s a ‘rematch’ 17-years in the making. Chatfield downed Hawley 12-7 for the 1996 state Class C championship, the last Gopher title of their three-peat. They thus enter the game on a 6-game Metrodome winning streak!

Unforgettable Falcons

State Runner-Up’s

All great things come to an end. For the Fillmore Central Falcon volleyball team, their unbelievably memorable 2013 season came to an end, unfortunately, with a loss. It ended at a place every high school athlete dreams of being though, in a state championship game. FC fell three games to zero in the Class A finale to the Southwest Christian Stars of Chaska. The top seeded Falcons were finally overmatched. They finally found themselves in over their heads. But it was too a more than worthy opponent. SWC (30-5), who finished the year ranked #3 in state and got the 3-seed in the state tournament, played great. It was a game they had been waiting for twofold. The Stars avenged a 2-0 loss to FC at the Class A Showcase earlier this year. They also got their state title after being state runner-up last season (lost 3-1 to B.A.). FC was blazing a new trail, from a sub-section semifinal loser in 2012, to ranked #1 in state, to the top seed in the state tournament, to the state runner-up, massive leaps. And thus, the loss is kind of just an anecdote on a tremendous season. With the state runner-up trophy, the Section and Sub-Section title trophies, the Class A Showcase title trophy, the 3-Rivers Conference champion trophy, a school record 35 wins (3 losses), plus individual honors, the Falcons had a truly unforgettable season.

Early Jitters Versus Ada-Borup

FC’s state experience began with an opening round match-up with Ada-Borup (23-8), the Section 6A champion. The Falcons (33-2), making their first appearance on the state scene, got off to a dicey start. A-B scored four of the first five points. FC, on the back of a 6-1 run, took the lead a 15-11 though. But the Cougars blocking (five total in game one) and the serving of Emiley Lindell were major factors. Lindell authored a three-ace, seven-point, serving session which accounted for most of an 8-0 Ada-Borup run. They took a 21-17 lead and then prevailed in game one 25-19. The Falcons rallied from there. They didn’t play their best volleyball. All told, they gave A-B 30 points via errors of some variety. But FC wouldn’t drop another set to the Cougars. They decided game two midway through with an 8-0 run. It gave them a 19-9 lead, which they turned into a 25-16 win. In game three, the contest was tied at 12, but the teal and black finished on a 13-2 run for the 25-14 victory, the 2-1 lead. FC was on the verge of the state semifinals in game four, up 21-14, but the Cougars cut it to 21-20. A Taylor Case kill, she had nine in the game, and then a pair of Cougar errors garnered FC some breathing room. A Sammi Bakke kill sent the Falcons into the semis. They downed Ada-Borup 3-1 (18-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-21). The Falcons attacking was just too much for the Cougars. FC held a 57 to 28 kill advantage, albeit their team hitting percentage (in the .400-range in the regular season) was just .165. Ada-Borup was .042. FC was out-blocked 12 to 6, a harbinger of things to come. Case (17 kills, 25 digs) led FC, but Tori Peterson (13 with 2.5 blocks), Leah Scheevel (12), and Bakke (12) all reached double figures in kills. Morgan Malley (46 assists, 3 kills, 10 digs) and Sara Schultz (22 digs) did their parts running the offense and defending.

Game One Spurs Falcons Past Win-E-Mac

In the state semifinals, the Falcons got a re-match of the Class A Showcase title game with Win-E-Mac (Winner, Erskine, McIntosh), the Section 8A champions. FC (33-2) downed the Patriots (31-3) 2-0 in that tournament (25-11, 25-18). In game one, the Falcons played their best set in St. Paul. Up 11-10, they scored 10 unanswered points. Tori Peterson had 3 kills and a block in that run, and the Falcons took the big 1-0 lead with a 25-13 win. Win-E-Mac, ranked #5 to end the season, and seeded 4th in the state tournament, certainly didn’t want to give game two away. They built a 13-8 lead, blocking again a key factor (they had 14 in the match). Down 18-16, the Falcons scored five straight to take the 21-18 lead. The game saw four ties (21, 23, 24, 25) the rest of the way. FC was at game-loss point, down 24-23, but a Leah Scheevel killed saved the day. A Taylor Case kill and then a ball handling error on Win-E-Mac and FC had themselves a 27-25 win, a bigger 2-0 lead. With their backs against the wall, the Patriots rallied in game three. Courtesy of a 10-1 run, they built a 21-13 lead. All State MH Shelby Kaster had eight kills in the set. The Falcons closed to down 23-20 and 24-22. The Patriots got a kill from senior OH Korbyn Ross for the 25-22 win, but the late FC run was important. It stopped Win-E-Mac’s momentum and squared things for game four. In it, FC dug themselves a little hole (down 3-0), buried Win-E-Mac a bit (up 10-6), and then a little bit more (up 16-10). FC got to state-final-berth points at 24-22 and 24-23, but a pair of Ross kills denied the Falcons and made it 24-all. At that point, jitters overtook all servers. A Patriot error gave FC a 25-24 lead. An FC error tied the game at 25. Another Patriot serving error gave FC a 26-25 lead! Finally, FC went to their Case. Taylor’s 9th kill of the game, her 22nd of the match, ended both (27-25, 3-1). It sent FC to its first ever (all sports) state final. Case also led the Falcons in digs (26, 12 in game four). Tori Peterson had 18 kills, Leah Scheevel 10 and 4 blocks. Malley had 52 assists and Tayah Barnes 15 digs. Win-E-Mac was led by excellent hitters Kaster (22 kills, 17 assists, 5.5 blocks, 12 digs) and Ross (18 kills, 12 digs, 3 aces), libero Jordyn Ose (22 digs).

Buzz-sawed By Southwest


The Falcons then ran into Southwest Christian in the title game. FC had a chance in game one. They led 21-20. The contest was then tied at 22, but a pair of serve receive issues allowed for a pair of SWC aces and the 25-22 win. From there, it wasn’t so close. The Stars stymied FC’s offense with great blocking, great overall defense. The Falcons struggled to get good attacks past a pair of SWC six-footers (Ally Krommendyk and Abby Palkert), and a couple excellent athletes (Abby Vandergalien and MacKenzie Horkey). SWC had nine blocks to FC’s zero and the Falcons hit at an anemic .036 rate. Horkey, a 3-time All-State player, routinely pounded attacks off FC blocks out-of-bounds for points, or just straight to the floor. Amazingly, with 17, she had more kills than FC’s top two offensive players, Taylor Case (9) and Leah Scheevel (6) combined. They Patriots would break early ties in game two (9-9) and game three (7-7) to lead 18-12 and 19-13. They got the 3-0 sweep (25-22, 25-17, 25-16), the state title.


A trio of Falcons were selected to the All-Tournament Team. Senior OH Tori Peterson (36 total kills), junior setter Morgan Malley (117 assists, 6 kills, 28 digs), and last but certainly not least, 5’11” senior OH Taylor Case. Denise Case’s daughter played like the offspring of a head coach, leading FC in kills and digs all three games. She finished with a combined 48 kills and 68 digs. The Cases’ honors didn’t end there. After being Honorable Mention All-State a season ago, Taylor is just plain All-State this season. She continued to stand out on the volleyball court, like she’s done the past three years. College ball awaits. Denise was selected Section 1A Coach of the Year, another lofty recognition. Her 4-year coaching record is now 98-27 Where the Falcons go post-Taylor, Tori, and Denise (given Taylor’s likely collegiate career), is unknown. They will return everybody else (Malley, Scheevel, Bakke, Barnes, Armstrong, Schultz). It is known that the bar has been set. It is known that the FC volleyball program certainly made a huge statement in 2013. One can only hope, if you’re an FC fan, that amongst the throngs of Falcon fans watching the team, were the next generation of FC players chomping at the bit, ready to work, to keep the Falcon program in the upper echelon of Minnesota Class A volleyball.

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