Warriors turn the dust bowl into a track meet, win big 53-18

By Dugan Thomas

The Warriors offense took control of the game Friday night in front of a beautiful sunset in Wabasha.

WABASHA, MN - 9/06/13

The new Southern Football Alliance Conference meant a new destination for the three-time defending state champ Caledonia Warriors. A 75-mile bus trip up the Mississippi River road to Wabasha-Kellogg High School to play the 1-1 Falcons.

The dry weather this summer, plus the new running track surface installation at the athletic complex made football conditions rather dusty this Friday night. The new paved running track circling the football field turned the sidelines into dirt, and the dry grass field turned the game into a track meet for the Warriors.

I asked Ryan Pitts about the dry hard surface, "how's your footing out there?" Pitts said, "It's fine, the grass is short, I can run on top of it...it's fast."

Fast it was, as Ryan took one of his first carries for a big 46-yard gain to put the Warriors into scoring position. A few plays later Pitts ran untouched into the end zone, but an offensive holding call took it off the board. Four plays later Caledonia ended up turning it over on downs, as they couldn't quite punch it in.

A good defensive stand by the Warriors had W-K punting it right back from deep in their own territory. Caledonia got great field position from the short punt and started at the Falcons 33-yard line.

A short run set up Mason DeMorett's deep fade to Adam Buttell along the far sideline. A perfectly placed pass was hauled in, and Adam waltzed into the end zone to put the Warriors on the board. Mason Ashbacher added the extra-point kick to make the score 7-0.

W-K took their second possession and were only able to gain one first down, as they had to punt the ball right back to the Warriors. Austin Bauer came into the quarterback rotation for Caledonia, and Ryan Pitts broke off a couple nice runs to put them deep into Falcons territory again. Unfortunately Caledonia fumbled the ball at the 25-yard line, and W-K recovered at 1:49 left in the first quarter.

The Falcons offense finally found it's groove with quarterback Austin Baab's feet. W-K employs a unique read-option offense from the shotgun position, and Baab created plenty of confusion on this drive to stymie the Warriors defense. He slipped through the cracks and raced all the way down to the 9-yard line on one long impressive run. He quickly raced into the end zone one play later to put the Falcons within a point. A botched snap on the extra point kick kept Caledonia with the lead at 7-6.

The Warriors didn't waste time striking back, as Sam Schulte took a quick pass from Mason DeMorett and broke three or four tackles as he out raced the Falcons to the end zone. Mason Ashbacher added the extra-point kick to give Caledonia a 14-6 advantage.

The game changed quickly on the next possession with W-K at their own 10-yard line, the Warriors knifed through and forced a fumble with Jacob Nielsen pouncing on it. Ryan Pitts scored from the 7 yard-line on the next play, and Caledonia was up 20-6 with 11:07 left in the second quarter.

The Warriors had the momentum, and were starting to control the game. The second quarter had plenty of scoring with the Warriors getting the ball back again and marching down the field. A nice Pitts run and a Schulte jump ball reception put Caledonia into scoring position again. Mason DeMorett dialed his own number and took it into the end zone from two yards out to score another touchdown. The Ashbacher kick was good, and Caledonia led 27-6 with 7:55 still remaining in the half.

After a quick W-K fumble and Caledonia interception exchange, the Falcons quarterback Austin Baab showed off his athleticism again. He broke free on a outside keeper and raced 58-yards for a W-K touchdown. The 2-point conversion pass failed and the Warriors lead was now 27-12.

The track meet kept going on the next kickoff when Sam Schulte found a lane on the near sidelines, and flashed his sprinter speed. He outraced everyone to the end zone, but for the second game in a row, a Warriors kickoff return touchdown was taken away with a penalty. A block in the back nullified the points, but luckily it didn't keep the Warriors down.

DeMorett found Alex Goetzinger as he made an incredible catch down the near side to put the Warriors back in business. A few plays later Ryan Pitts found the end zone again from 5-yards out to score his second touchdown of the game. The extra-point kick failed and Caledonia took a 33-12 lead into halftime.

The action packed second quarter turned into a fast moving third quarter as booth teams kept to the ground and grinded out the clock. The Warriors offense found a nice drive and capped it off with a Jacob Cuda 12-yard touchdown run making it 39-12 with 3:18 left in the third quarter.

The rout was on when DeMorett slipped a quick pass to Sean Connor and he took it the distance down the near sideline for a 50-yard touchdown sprint to make it 46-12 Warriors.

The fourth quarter gave Caledonia a chance to bring in the second team offensive and defensive units. That's been a valuable asset for the Warriors to get the youngsters valuable game time experience. Caledonia and W-K then traded touchdowns with Tom Loechler running in a 14-yard touchdown for the Falcons, and Mitchell Schmitz getting a 6-yard score for the Warriors to close it out.

The final score ended up being 53-18 Warriors. It showed that Caledonia hasn't lost a step from last year, and they have another great team with plenty of depth and speed. W-K had a great looking team with big size and a very athletic quarterback, but they just couldn't keep up with Caledonia's track stars.

Next up for the Warriors will be another new team to the Southern Football Alliance Blue Division, the Goodhue Wildcats. Goodhue has a (1-2) record on the year, and the (2-0) Warriors will be looking to keep their 28-game winning streak intact at home Friday September 13, game time 7:00 PM.
Game Notes:

The Warriors may have the best group of skill position players I have ever seen at Caledonia. Mason DeMorett at quarterback, Ryan Pitts and Jacob Cuda at running back, and a big group of receiving threats in Adam Buttell, Sam Schulte, Alex Goetzinger, Sean Connor, and Tanner Langen. This game really showed off the speed and athletic ability of the Warriors, and the Falcons just couldn't keep up.

Sean Connor had an apparent touchdown catch in the back of the end zone, but that's not what the officials seen. From my point of view it was a great catch, and everyone on the Warriors sideline thought so too. I guess the officials can't see everything every time, but it's tough to see Sean lose a nice touchdown catch like that.

The second half kickoff started out with a bang, as Hunter Hauser-Caldwell made an incredible hit on the kick returner. Hunter came in low for the tackle, but the returner tried to jump over and got somersaulted into the air. It was a scary looking hit, and I was glad both players were alright, but it showed how physical this game can be.

Ryan Pitts had 144 yards on only 12 carries to lead the Warriors rushing attack. He had a number of big holes to run through and the line did a great job with their rotation keeping guys fresh. Mason Demorett also had a great game with 268 yards passing, and Alex Goetzinger had five catches for 80 yards to lead the receiving core.

Head Coach Brent Schroeder and his staff do an incredible job on the sidelines with communication and their in-game adjustments. Being on the sidelines you can really see the job they do with their players, and it's really impressive. Coach Carl Fruechte handles all the offensive calls and the offensive line, and Brent makes all the defensive calls and adjustments. They get great input from the coaches up in the booth, and everyone does their job seamlessly. When you're building a big time football program, it starts with the coaching staff, and I believe without question we have the best in the state.
Southern Football Alliance - Blue

Caledonia  14  19  6  14  -  53

W-K            6    6   0   6   -  18

First quarter: C-Adam Buttell 33 pass from Mason DeMorett (Ashbacher kick). W-K-Austin Baab 9 run (kick failed). C-Sam Schulte 67 pass from DeMorett (Ashbacher kick).

Second quarter:
C-Ryan Pitts 7 run (kick failed). C-DeMorett 2 run (Ashbacher kick). W-K-Baab 56 run (pass failed). C-Pitts 5 run (kick failed).

Third quarter:
Jacob Cuda 12 run (kick failed).

Fourth quarter:
C-Sean Connor 50 pass from DeMorett (Ashbacher kick). W-K-Tom Loechler 14 run (pass failed). C-Mitchell Schmitz 6 run (Hoscheit kick).

C-Pitts 12-144, Cuda 11-67; W-K-Baab 20-208, Loechler12-79.

C-DeMorett 11-17-1-268; W-K-Baab 2-6-0-10.

C-Alex Goetzinger 5-80, Connor 3-77; W-K-Jordan Meyer 1-8

Total Yards:
C: 269-284-553; W-K: 335-10-345.

C-3-1; W-K-5-2.

C-2-0; W-K-1-2.