On a rain-soaked, windy Thursday night in St. Michael, the Crimson did not take advantage of numerous opportunities and lost a hard fought 14 - 13 game to the STMA Knights. In a game where St. Michael had two red zone opportunities and took advantage of them both and Maple Grove had six, the difference was clear on this night.
Defensively, this group had good moments and tough moments as they made some significant stops, but they allowed many time consuming drives as well. This group keeps striving to get better and to play more physical and that will be challenged next week in our final game of the season. It will be fun to watch them grow and look forward to seeing them play physical, bringing their hips and feet to the party every time. Jack Weigel had a great game with 10 total tackles and a key fumble recovery that gave us a chance to win the game late. Next week it will be fun to watch this group get after it and then it's playoff time! That is their time to shine!
Our offense moved the ball well throughout the night as we totaled over 300 yards of rushing and close to 400 yards of total offense, but we did not handle the weather very well and we put the ball on the ground on seven different plays from dropped snaps or handoffs/pitches which led to losing many critical downs and yardage while driving. We did not do a good job of finishing our drives and we have to remain within ourselves and do what we do even in big situations. As coaches, we have to emphasize the importance of just staying simple and doing those little things during these moments and not allowing our own breakdowns to stop our drives. Charles Langama continued his unreal junior season with 251 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown and Nathan Hromadka found the end zone for the 2nd time this year with a big reception in the third quarter. We have to do a better job of finishing our drives as the year continues and not allowing the elements to control what we do. This group has a chance to be special, so I still think big things are coming, but it's time to play at the level we know we can play.
However, the part of team that got exposed on this night that needs to drastically improve is special teams. I say week in and week out that there are games where special teams will make the difference and this was one of them. We did not execute on an extra point attempt, two field goals and a punt, and our punt return team gave up numerous yards of rolls throughout the night. It was a huge part of the game where we did not do what was necessary to win. That is my fault and this will be addressed this week as we go into our final game. It is not an area we can just discard and we need to immediately make it into a strength. This part of our team will improve and it is our job as coaches to put the emphasis on this that it deserves.
Next week we play our final game on a Thursday afternoon in the Grove against a top 3 team in Minnetonka. A senior laden team with a ton of experience, it will be fun to play against them heading into the playoffs because they play fast and physical and they are always a blast to play against. Over the years, some of the best games of each year have been games we have played against Minnetonka, so I hope the kids are excited for Thursday afternoon because it should be a lot of fun to play in. I cannot wait to watch our guys go at it this week because they still are a great team that can achieve all of the goals they have set forth along the way. It's just the little things that make a difference and the confidence in big moments that focusing on those little things will always pay dividends. These boys need to realize that they have the ability to be great and that there is no opponent they will face where they shouldn't feel complete confidence. Even if that team hits us in the mouth and is willing to compete. That is the fun stuff and the stuff that makes this sport great. We will be ready next Thursday and we will play at the top of our ability as we head into the playoffs! GO CRIMSON! Let's Go!!!