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State Champs!


Mon, Dec 9th, 2013
Posted in All Sports

Everyone likes a good sports story. Everyone loves a winner. The 2013 Chatfield Gopher football team is both. Their tale is a three-plus year one dating back to 2011, when the then-sophomore class headed by Jake Neis, Nate Skare, and Jayme LaPlante first stepped foot on a varsity football field. Over the next three seasons, there were of course, pitfalls, bumps in the road. Their biggest obstacle was Caledonia. The Gophers went 1-4 versus the Warriors. The last three losses were each agonizing in their own way. There was the ‘we’re close, we lost 6-0 cause of the field position game’ contest in the 2012 regular season. Then there was the, ‘oh, we’re not so close, we just got beat, humiliated, 29-0 and struggled to even get yards’ Section Title game in 2012. Then there was this season’s opener where, ‘well, we beat them, but beat ourselves, and that ref made a horrible call!’ But all of that, and all the off-season hard work, came to an amazing crescendo when, in the 2013 Section title game, the Gopher’s defense repeatedly stopped Caledonia in the red zone, Skare kicked ‘the field goal’, and A.J. Riley authored ‘the interception.’ Chatfield got its win. Three wins later, the story had a most fabulous ending. Hard-working aching senior lineman Sawyer Prinsen raised the Class AA trophy. The Gophers are the 2013 Class AA Football State Champions. Their ‘one team, one dream’ season is now an immortalized reality.

Chatfield’s final hurdle was a tough one. Just like the Gophers (three titles, seven state appearances since 1981), Minneota/Lincoln HI (12-0, ranked #4) came in with a rich football tradition (four titles, 11 state appearances since 1985). Defense highlighted the early game play. Minneota was in Chatfield territory three times. Chatfield was in Minneota territory twice. Neither ‘D’ relinquished a point. The Gophers, run game somewhat stymied, turned to a little razzle-dazzle. On 2nd and eight from the Minneota 48 late in the second quarter, Skare hit junior WR Drew Hurley for a short gain. Hurley was hit nearly immediately, but pitched the ball just as expediently, to Jake Neis; the hook and ladder play. Neis sped up the sideline for a 21-total-yard gain. On the next play, with the Vikings defense reeling, Neis took a hand-off and exploded to daylight off the left side. He dove for an apparent TD. The referee ruled him down at the one. The 26-yard gain set the Gophers up on the doorstep. Neis punched it in one play later. A Skare PAT made the score 7-0 Gophers (where it stood at halftime).

The third quarter was free of scoring, but Minneota put together its most important drive. The most important play was a 57-yard Austin Buysse to Nathan Pavek completion that put the Vikings at the Goph 19. A few plays later, the third quarter ended with each team facing its most critical play of the game; Minneota 4th and goal from the 12-inch line. Chatfield Coach Jeff Johnson gambled. He bet Minneota would go with the QB sneak. Interior defensive-lineman Brandon Adler (who got credited with the tackle), Michael Mabe, and Ian Morrison all submarined. Safety Drew Hurley came over the top to clean up. The gamble was correct. Buysse went absolutely nowhere. Chatfield took over inside their own one yard-line. The Gopher’s next offensive play was thus pretty important. Alex Bradt, who’d churned out middle-run after middle-run through the play-offs, churned out another. His 9-yard gain gave Chatfield breathing room and kept their momentum. Chatfield then rattled off some good runs. They then got their big pass play. Skare hit Hurley for a 47-yard gain to the Viking 16. Chatfield couldn’t get a TD out of the trip (Neis was tripped up for no gain on 3rd and goal from the three). They set up for a field goal. Skare, who should he chose, could have a college kicking career for sure, nailed a 20-yarder. With 5:13 left in the game, Gopher fans were nervous with anticipation. Their team led 10-0. Two plays later, both feelings changed. Jake Neis intercepted a Buysse throw at the Minneota 27. Gopher fans’ nervousness waned, their anticipation grew. Six running plays, the most important, a Jayme LaPlante 5-yard end-around on 4th and three from the Viking 12, got Chatfield to the brink of certain victory. On 3rd and goal from the three, after a day filled with Bradt-up-the-gut and Neis-off-the-edge, it was time for the Skare-QB-boot. It worked perfectly. Minneota’s left DE crashed down hard and Gopher #7 cemented the game, ensured the state title, with a walk-in three-yard TD. Minneota would get a score in the final 2:00 to make the final Gophers 17, Vikings 7.

The guys did what they do. Jake Neis rushed for 110 yards and a TD on 24 carries. He also intercepted two passes. Alex Bradt had 16 carries for 69 yards. The Gophers had 178 on the ground. Nate Skare guided the offense (2-7 passing 68 yards, INT; TD rushing) and racked up hidden valuable yardage in the kicking game (47.7 yard average on three punts, 58-yard average on four kick-offs, two for touchbacks, and the big field goal). Junior Drew Hurley (2 receptions, 51 yards; 9 tackles) and sophomore Carter Duxbury (7 tackles), plus the grunts in the trenches (particularly Prinsen and Mabe who both played the game noticeably hobbled) as usual came up big. The defense held an opponent to just one end zone trip (or less) for the 9th game this season. The Vikings totaled 266 yards, but 80 came on the final insignificant drive. Minneota rushed for just 62 yards. Buysse (20-33, 204 yards, TD, 2 INT’s), Jeff Gladis (16 carries, 54 yards; TD receiving), and Pavek (120 total yards; 9 tackles) led the Vikes.

And thus the 2013 Chatfield football saga is complete with a fairy-tale ending. Seniors Nate Skare, Jake Neis, Jayme LaPlante, Sawyer Prinsen, Michael Mabe, A.J. Riley, Alex Haffner, Cody Bly, Dalton Schwier, and Brandon Adler don’t have to shed tears of pain at losing their last game. They get to do the rare high school feat and small broadly for weeks, years to come. All their off-season work, to overcome obstacles (and beyond), paid off with the highest of dividends. They finish their three-year varsity careers with a 27-7 record, a Section runner-up medal, a Section champion medal, state title medals, and a journey they will never forget. It’ll be up to the Hurley’s, the Bradt’s, the Duxbury’s, and the Morrison’s, among others, to lead Chatfield on the 2014 journey.

Wrestling Preview

> Chatfield Gophers: Coached by Joel Viss, won the 3-Rivers (8-0) and section 1A, beat Sibley East for 3rd at state last year. Finished with a school-best 31-2 record. Graduated just one of eight All-Conference wrestlers, begin year ranked #3 in Class A. Top returnees: Harvey Friederichs (Sr., 44-3, All-Conference, section champ, state runner-up at 132, begins season ranked #3 at 152), Hank Friederichs (Jr., 47-2, A-C, section champ, state 3rd place at 120, ranked #6 at 145), A.J. Riley (Sr., 43-5, A-C, section runner-up, state participant, ranked #3 at 132), Jared Goldsmith (Jr., 39-7, A-C, section runner-up, state participant, ranked #4 at 113), Alex Haffner (Sr., 41-4, A-C, section runner-up, state participant, ranked #5 at 160), Cody Bly (Sr., 37-6, A-C, section runner-up, state participant, ranked #5 at 182), Ryan Meeker (Jr., 30-14, section runner-up, state participant at 145, unranked), Ty Van Sickle (Fr., 25-17, placed 4th at sections at 113), Jacob Bleess (Jr., 25-15, placed 5th at sections at 220),

> LARP Screamin’ Eagles: Coached by Tim Tekautz and Dave Riebel, finished 5-3 in 3-Rivers, went 19-10 overall last year. Lost to C-SG in the section AA quarters. Graduated three All-Conference wrestlers, lost a fourth, senior Nick Hoff (30-8, 3rd at sections) to knee injury. Top returnees: Jordan Theede (Sr., 28-2, A-C, section champ, state runner-up at 160, begins the season ranked #1 at 170 in AA), McCoy Tekautz (Fr., 23-11, finished 4th at sections at 106), Josh Doerr (Fr., 24-9, finished 4th at sections at 113), Sam Riebel (Jr., 21-19, finished 6th at sections at 120), John Heim (Sr., 16-12, wrestled 195).

> GMLOK Bulldogs: Bill Simpkins’ short-handed team went 2-8 in 3-Rivers, 4-11 overall last year; lost to Byron in Section 1AA quarter. Lost one All-Conference wrestler (41-5 152-pound section champ, state 6th place, Lucas Roe). Top returnees: Wyatt Richardson (Jr., 31-10, A-C, finished 4th at sections at 182, begins year ranked #6 at 195 in AA), Blake Olson (Jr., 28-13, A-C, finished 6th at sections at 132), Blake Benson (Fr., 14-10, A-C at 195), Parker Hale (So., 22-14, finished 4th at sections 138), Jace Bunne (Jr., 15-16, finished 4th at sections 126), Brenn Olson (Fr., 11-10 at 106)

> FCLMC Wolves: Jim Love’s short-handed team went 1-7 in 3-Rivers, 5-12 overall. Top returnees: Niko Anderson (Sr., 37-2, A-C, section champ, state runner-up at 170, begins season ranked #3 at 182), Connor Hanson (Sr., 30-11, finished 3rd at sections at 132), Tom Henry (Sr., 16-5, finished 3rd at sections at 160), Monty Holm (Sr., 25-12, finished 4th at sections at 182), Andy Love (Sr., 22-16, wrestled 138).

Spinning Whirlwinds

It’s kind of amazing what a little bit of good defense and some good ball-sharing offense can do for a basketball team. For just over a half of Houston’s boy’s SEC battle at Mabel-Canton, the Hurricanes were one team. They weren’t uncompetitive. There were four ties and six lead changes in the first 18:00. But the ‘Canes had 11 first half turnovers. They triggered just four Cougar turnovers. Short of senior forward Mason Drake’s efforts (he had ten in the half), Houston’s play was undistinguished. Courtesy of a late Wesley Richert 3-pointer, M-C led 29-24 at halftime. A few minutes into the second half, the trend continued. M-C made five of its first nine field goals. They seemed on their way leading 39-31. And that was completely without the services of seniors Hunter Johnson, Noah Manning, and Collin O’Bieglo (injuries); with only the partial services of Justin Ward (foul trouble). Then Houston spun itself into a completely different team. Senior guard Sam Ross, who sat most of the first half per foul trouble of his own, started making plays. Those plays ramped up Houston’s shooting percentage. They hit on 14 of 23 second half field goals. Seeing the ball go through the bucket triggered the Hurricane defense, which triggered the offense, and so on. A 21-4 run was the by-product, one where the Hurricane ‘D’ held M-C to 1 of 11 shooting with 11 turnovers. With 3:46 to go, Houston led 52-43. The Cougars got to within five a couple times from there. A couple free throw line situations sealed it though. First, Ross missed a pair, but after a scrum, he got his own rebound and scored to give Houston a 57-50 lead. After an M-C miss, Micah Schutte hit his first free throw, but missed his second. Another Houston offensive rebound put Schutte back on the line. He made both free throws. The three-point possession gave the ‘Canes the 60-50 lead in the waning ticks. They prevailed 61-51. Drake led Houston with 24 points and 9 rebounds. He scored a little on the inside (7 for 12 2-point FG’s) and a little on the outside (2-2 3-pointers). Ross, after just having just a solitary point in his entire statistical column in the first half, had six points, five rebounds, and seven assists in the second. Christian Sires chipped in 6 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists (as he too caught the passing bug). For M-C, Justin Ward (12 pts, 5 rebs, 6 stls) and Donnie Lind (12 pts, 11 rebs) again led the way. Each team could use a little extra free throw practice. M-C was 6 of 18, Houston 15 of 32. The Cougars had 19 offensive rebounds, and 12 second-chance-points. Houston had eight offensive rebounds and 11 second-chance-points. Houston shot over 50% from the field (22-42) while M-C was just above 33% (21-62). Both teams’ conference and overall records are 1-1.

Frosh Koop Leads R-P in Opener

Rushford-Peterson girls’ basketball graduated a pretty darn good interior player a year ago in Amy Todd. The 1,000-point career scorer was an athletic beast inside. Freshman Brianna Koop may or may not be her replacement, her understudy. But for one game, she looked the part, making R-P fans (facetiously) say Amy who? Koop, a 5’9” forward, came off the bench in the Trojans season opener with Hope Lutheran and was fantastic. In the game’s first 5:30, she posted 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal, all, mind you, after not starting. R-P as a team, meanwhile, tortured the Patriots with high-energy defense, high-energy play. By halftime, R-P had forced 19 turnovers, they had grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, and that led to 39-14 lead. The Trojans coasted from there, Koop a big part of it. She finished her first varsity game 8 of 11 from the field and 6 of 8 from the free throw line for a game-high 22 points. She added 7 rebounds. The rest of R-P cast also got in on the action. Seniors Sierra McNamer (14 pts, 6 rebs) and Kendra Crawford (10 pts, 8 assists, 8 stls) did what seniors do, as did Hope Morrison (8 pts, 6 rebs) and Keela Brand (7 pts, 8 rebs). R-P dispatched with Hope Lutheran 67-44. The Patriots were led by their seniors Dakota Ellinghuysen (11 pts, 13 rebs, 4 assists, 2 stls, 3 blks) and Jenna O’Laughlin (13 pts, 7 rebs, 4 assists, 3 stls). It was each team’s season opener.

Boys Basketball

11-26 > Caledonia 95, Fillmore Central 68 (FC: Nick Powell 23 pts, 11 rebs; Carter Rindels 10. C: Gavin Schroeder/Owen King 19 apiece (King hit 5 of 8 3-pointers); Austin Bauer 18 (4-8 from distance). Falcons fall to 1-1 in 3-Rivers and overall)

> Spring Grove 63, Lanesboro 55 (L: Kole Ruud 23 pts (1-15 three’s), 7 rebs; Luke Rogers 18 pts (1-8 three’s), 10 rebs. SG: Alex Engelhardt 19; Chase Grinde 16; Elliott Cross 10. Burros hit 5 of 35 three’s. They fall to 1-1 in the SEC/overall)

> Southland 51, Kingsland 74 (Knights even 3-Rivers and overall records at 1-1)

Girls Basketball (Season Openers)

11-29 > Sioux Central Iowa 48, Kingsland 30 (K: Marissa Bornholdt 15 pts, 5 rebs; Melinda Woods 10 assists)

> Lanesboro 22, Dover-Eyota 88 (L: Haely Pollin 12. D-E: Brandi Blattner 20 pts, 14 stls, 9 rebs. D-E Tourney)

11-30 > Lanesboro 22, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 66 (D-E tournament game. Burros are 0-2)



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