Going to State!

November 4

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[OK, fessing up.  This was not a big surprise.  I think everyone believed from the start of the season this was an attainable goal.  How we did it was a little more amazing.]

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[Clemens Stadium, St. Johns University, home of John Gagliardi, college football’s all-time winningest coach.]

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[Cardinals are introduced.]

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[And the rest of the team.]

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[Jaran Roste (1) kicks off with what is now the standard approach – hard grounders.]

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[And the Sartell-St. Stephen Sabres begin their first offensive set.  The Sabres were the section’s No. 2 seed behind us and were on a 6-game winning streak after losing their first three games.]

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[The Sabres ran and passed rather effectively through the 1st quarter . . . ]

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[Tyson Hoelscher (89) with the pass pressure.]

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[And Tyson again with pressure.]

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[The Sabres controlled the ball almost the entire quarter.  The Cards only had the ball twice, both were three and outs.  We have been starting slow the last couple games?]

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[Will Odland (24), middle linebacker, makes the stop.  Will missed the last one or two games leading up to this one.  And also in this game, we were missing Dan Oberg, our 293 nose tackle, for the second straight game.]

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[Fortunately, the Sabres only led 3 – 0 at the end of the first quarter.]

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[Still in the first quarter, Micah Christenson (22) was a surprise starter.  He really hadn’t played (other than a couple of “cameo” appearances) since the 5th game of the season, yet had over 1,000 yards rushing to that point.  But we were without, again, flanker Cody Faber, who had also substituted as a third running back.  For much of the last couple games, we played without running backs.  And Micah and Cody were our main kick returners, both on punts and kickoffs.  Micah had a high ankle sprain which is usually a 6-week recovery.  From the beginning of the game, it appeared he was out there as a decoy only.]

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[Jaran remained our prime, if not only, runner.]

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[Then in the 2nd quarter, we went to our high speed offense.  Jaran found a rhythm and completed a 34-yard TD pass to John Urman (11).]

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[It happened so fast the photos were a blur!]

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[So, where are you going to eat after the game?]

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[After a long TD pass by Sartell, the Cards came back.  Jaran fakes a handoff to Micah.]

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[And fires a 25-yard TD pass to Spencer Hockert (84).  The PAT was missed.  The Cards had a 13 – 10 lead.]

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[And the Cards were still rolling . . . ]

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[Jaran and . . . ]

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[Micah on an option left.]

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[Jaran fires right as the Cards are in the rd zone.]

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[Then he couldn’t find a receiver . . . ]

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[And was dropped for a loss.]

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[But Zach Harstad (2) capped the drive with a 28-yard field goal.]

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[Cards led 16 – 1o at the half.]

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[The 2nd half and we’re still rolling.  Linebacker Quintin Kluver-Longfellow (30) (remember, our regular kick returners not available) makes a nice return, thus showing why he usually has about 20 tackles per game.]

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[Roste is fun when he’s rolling.  The game seems very simple to him.  Very calm – pick out a receiver – throw him the ball.  The strength of the team known going into the season was a deep and talented receiving corps.  The ball was spread among all of them for over 300 yards passing.]

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[This bomb just missed down the right side.]

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[Let go of my leg!!  We came out of it with a 37-yard field goal by young Mr. Harstad.]

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[And we should note that absent Micah and Cody, it is no drop off in kick returners with Spencer.]

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[The Cards march down the field again.]

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[We’re getting close . . . ]

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[And here Mr. Heydt can absolutely confirm this – I called this play (OK, all the way down the field on this drive I was calling for it).  Time to take Micah off the decoy list and hit him over the middle out of the backfield.]

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[Beautiful!  9-yard TD!]

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[We were now looking unstoppable on offense.]

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[Boom!!  Spencer on a 37-yard TD reception – he caught at least 12 balls on the game.]

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[Woo-woo!]

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[Looks pretty safe now!]

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[Jaran on a keeper . . . ]

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[It looked like a TD pass, to Spencer as I recall.  But the ref said he was just short.  We fumbled into the end zone on the next play and the Sabres recovered.]

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[We got the ball back . . . and to make up for the missed connection at the goal line, Micah stormed up the middle for a 22-yard . . . ]

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[TD run!  Surely the game was in the bag now.]

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[But then, after the Cards had dominated the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the Sabres took over the 4th.  With long Sabre drives, the Cards lost their offensive momentum.]

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[The Sabres scored twice to pull within 8 points at 40 – 32.  A TD and a 2-point conversion would tie the game.]

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[On a 4th down play, the Sabres last attempt for a possible tie . . . ]

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[Was intercepted and run out to the 50-yard line by Michael Empting (12).  Game finally over!]

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[WE WIN!  WE WIN!!]

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[The final scoreboard must have moved when I took the shot.  So now we take on the team that’s been ranked No. 1 in the state all year.  They’re undefeated and won their section title against the defending state champs, 56 – 0.  Nothing to worry about though – Elk River only beat the Vikings 42 – 3 in a preseason game.  But we have until next Saturday night to see if we can field a team with more players in uniform than in civvies!]

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In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.  ~  Jean-Paul Sartre [Granted Sartre is talking about futbol, but it’s still appropriate.]

Up Next:  A 30-pound turkey.

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