On Thursday night, in front of ton of Crimson fans, we took the Us Bank Stadium field in our fourth appearance in the Semifinals. After a shaky first eight minutes, we settled down and had a big 2nd quarter which led us to a 35-3 victory over perennial power Eden Prairie. Obviously, this was a great win for our program allowing us to have the opportunity to compete on the Friday after Thanksgiving in the Prep Bowl for the first time in school history.
Defensively, we had probably one of the best first quarters in school history saving the offense from mistakes we made and allowing us a chance to breathe for the rest of the game. Giving Eden Prairie three possessions inside our forty yard line in the first quarter usually leads to doom, but our kids battled and held them to only a field goal. Everyone had a major part in the effort, but junior Michael Ross had 10 tackles to lead the team and Jacob Anderson and Kiers Brevik each scored defensive touchdowns that took us from a 14 - 3 lead to 28 - 3. Also, Jackson Powers had another playoff interception and Jaziah Atkinson had a big sack. This group will have a big challenge on Friday night, but there is no other group I want getting after it. They are difference makers and will continue to be.
Offensively, we struggled early with two turnovers, but settled down in the next three quarters and did what was needed to get us to the next round. Derrick Jameson, after being nominated as a finalist for Mr. Football, carried the mantel well as he ran for 138 yards on 15 carries and had two touchdowns. Those two touchdowns set the single season record for rushing touchdowns at Maple Grove and he passed the great Isaac Collins with his 23rd rushing TD. Jacob Kilzer added 116 passing yards and hit Jacob Anderson for our first touchdown of the night, and Tanner Albeck added two receptions as well as tough running inside. We have to play mistake free football next week but have the confidence to let it loose. This team is the highest scoring team in Crimson history, so they should have confidence entering into Friday night.
Our Special Teams did a nice job all night as well. Connor Fournier hit all his extra points, Ben Jameson did a great job pinning Eden Prairie with his kickoffs and Sam Peters moved field position with his punts. We will keep solidifying this unit as we need to keep improving entering the final week.
Obviously, there is a ton of excitement around this week, and these young men have earned the right to experience it. There will be things they have never felt as an athlete and they need to enjoy those moments. However, the team that wins this week prepares with absolute focus. It's their number one job and priority and the other stuff is just a small break in their schedule. This is 48 minutes of their lives they will never forget. The week leading into it is as well. It's awesome all they have achieved, but our goal is always to finish the absolute best version of us we possibly can be. We get that opportunity this Friday night! To our community, fill that place up! We need it rocking and let's turn Us Bank into our house! We can take it over. Let's do it! Let's go! and Let's get Step 5! Their time is now! Seize it fellas! GO CRIMSON!....Lombo