Adversity, one of the best ways to see just how strong the fiber of a team has been built and the Crimson faced plenty going into their final regular season battle. Following a tough one point loss, just 20 minutes before game time a pregame injury occurred that changed the entire game plan and framework of the team going in. What resulted was an imperfect but beautiful performance as a group came together and found a way to prevail 27-13 over Minnetonka on a beautiful Thursday afternoon. This win allowed the Crimson to finish a very strong 6 - 2 regular season record and it was enjoyable to watch such a young team grow immensely as the year progressed.
Offensively, adversity faced us immediately as Chuck Langama got hurt during pregame, so immediately 1450 yards rushing and 26 TDs were taken from the game plan, so it was amazing to see a group of kids come together and find a way. Senior Henry Stang played an unbelievable game in numerous positions as he rushed for 47 hard yards and had 109 yards receiving and two touchdowns flourishing in a role that he truly has rarely practiced throughout the year. Junior Dylan Vokal also was a 'do-everything player' out there as he rushed for 41 yards, threw for 100 yards and two touchdowns and also added 22 yards receiving. Sophomores Kaden Harney and Ryder Skanson did some great things as Harney threw for 132 yards and a touchdown and Skanson reached the end zone and rushed for 36 yards. Also, Junior Bo Draheim had over 60 yards of receiving and a touchdown and our offensive line performed very well against a very good, physical, athletic front four. Obviously this team will continue to keep growing as their new roles will be discovered but I am proud of the way they came together when the focal point of our offense suddenly went down unexpectedly.
Defensively, we found a way to keep us in it while our offense figured it out holding the Skippers to 13 points and having many critical stops that gave our team a chance to recover. Henry Stang continued his unreal game over on this side of the ball with 14 total tackles and a fumble recovery. Senior Cedric Buchholz had a strong statistical game with 13 total tackles, and Ayden Gunville made a huge impact at nose guard with 10 total tackles and a sack. Sophomores Brayden Dozier and Beaux Thyen added interceptions and Juniors Dylan Vokal, Jacob Wrbanek and Bo Draheim each had over seven tackles a piece on the day. This group will have to step up and become leaders in this playoff run because this is the time defense gets to shine. Playoffs come down to defense and our offensive line and I am proud to see what each of these groups achieve during each step in the playoffs.
Last week I was hard on our special teams and I thought they responded beautifully this last week. Our punt team made a huge impact as we put Kaden Harney in as a punter and he averaged over 38 yards a punt for his four punts during the game. It was huge in dictating field position and this will become an asset for our team in weeks to come. Jack Weigel blocked an extra point and a punt that accounted for 8 points during the game. Now it's time to sharpen up our extra point team and kickoff teams and special teams will become something we take great pride in!
Now we are to the greatest time of the year. Next Friday night at the Grove we will play step 1 against Park of Cottage Grove and we expect to bring the best of Crimson football out that night. It's the time of year where the little things matter and the preparation for each game become more and more detailed as we are coming together to try and do something special all the way from the two way starter to the scout team kids that give us such good looks. It's a time where we have been blessed to have more home games and get the best atmosphere in the state to be seen again. As the selection show was taking place on Friday and the brackets were being revealed, I thought about how blessed we are to get to this day in and day out with each other throughout this team, staff and community. It truly is special. Now it's our job to put on that field the best we be possibly can be and enjoy every series of downs we get to play. It truly is an opportunity like no other! Now our time is truly now! Let's go!!! There is nothing like Playoff Football. Let's get it rockin'!