Caledonia takes Section 1AA Football title, 28-14 over Lewiston-Altura

By Dugan Thomas

MN Section 1AA Champions - Caledonia Warriors

ROCHESTER, MN - 10/31/2014

On a cool Halloween night in Rochester, one of the premier football programs in the State of Minnesota continued it's dominance of Section 1-AA, taking the title over the Lewiston-Altura Cardinals 28-14. That's the 7th section title for Caledonia in the last 8 years, and 8 out of the last 10. The Warriors rolled into the game with an undefeated (10-0) record, and ranked #2 in state in the last Associated Press AA football poll. They did it with big plays by quarterback Austin Bauer and receiver Tanner Gran, a stout defense, and an offensive line that absolutely took over in the 2nd half.

It started out with a big play by the Cardinals on their first offensive series, as Lewiston-Altura running back Andrew Knapczyk found a hole in the middle of the line, and took it 60 yards for huge touchdown to put the Warriors on their heels.

Caledonia found life a series later when the Cardinals had a terrible punt that gave the Warriors great field position at Lewiston-Altura's 42-yard line. A first down was made with the running of Devan Heaney and Ben McCabe, then on 4th and 7, Caledonia struck with a big play.

Quarterback Austin Bauer rolled out to his left, and fired to Tanner Gran on a comeback route. Gran made an incredible spinning move after the catch and left his defender in the dust, outrunning everyone to the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown. The Alex Goergen extra-point kick tied the score at 7-7, and gave Caledonia the confidence it was looking for.

After a good three-and-out by the Caledonia defense, Lewiston-Altura's punting woes continued again. The Cardinal's punter saw the heavy rush in front him, and knew he was in trouble. Alex Goergen sprinted after him and dropped him in his tracks for a huge loss, to give the Warriors great field position again at L-A's own 20-yard line. Unfortunately Caledonia couldn't take advantage, and a field goal attempt came up just short to give the ball right back to the Cardinals.

The Caledonia defense stood strong again, and the Warriors offense went to work in the second quarter. Austin Bauer bootlegged to his right for a big first down pickup, then the Warriors came up just short of another first down. Alex Goergen went back for the punt, but he faked it, taking off on foot going for the first down. He was corralled 5-yards short by a good defensive effort, but that was aided by a facemask penalty. The 5-yard incidental penalty gave the Warriors just enough for a first down, and the drive was extended.

A couple plays later, the Bauer to Gran connection struck again. Mitchell Schmitz stepped up to pick up a huge blitz, and it gave Bauer time to heave it down the right sidelines. Gran's stop-and-go route fooled his defender, and he hauled in the perfect pass waltzing into the end for another big scoring connection to put Caledonia up 14-7.

The score remained that way going into the half after another huge defensive play by Caledonia. Lewiston-Altura was driving the ball with time winding down, and they were within striking distance. Cardinal's quarterback Peyton Schumacher went for the end zone, but Tanner Gran turned around just in time to see the ball, and it bounced off him right into the arms of Austin Bauer. Bauer took off up the sidelines, but was tackled at the 25, and Caledonia kneeled on it to go into the half with the lead.

The Warriors received the second half kickoff, and were moving the ball down the field with their power-I formation. But on a fourth and short, they failed to pick up a first down at L-A's 25-yard line, and turned the ball over on downs.

On a third and long situation at their own 16-yard line, L-A's quarterback Schumacher went play action, and tossed up a prayer. That prayer was answered down the left sidelines when receiver Tyler Blaser hauled it in, and took off with nobody in front of him for an 84-yard touchdown reception. The extra-point was good, and Lewiston-Altura had another big offensive play to draw even with the Warriors at 14-14.

The turning point in the game came on the next offensive series, when Coach Fruechte used his loaded power-I formation, and the Warriors offensive line took over. With runs alternating to Mitchell Schmitz, Alex Goergen, and Austin Bauer, Caledonia moved the ball down the field methodically. Goergen ripped off a 30-yard run down the left sidelines to put the Warriors into the red zone, and quarterback Austin Bauer finished it off a couple plays later with a 2-yard touchdown run to give Caledonia the lead once again. The Goergen extra-point kick was good, and the Warriors held a 21-14 advantage.

The Caledonia defense stood strong on Lewiston-Altura's next offensive possession, and forced another punt to give the Warriors good field position. They went right back to work behind their offensive line, and the blocking of fullbacks Hunter Hauser-Caldwell, and Alex Goergen. Austin Bauer and Devan Heaney had impressive runs to pickup good yardage and move the sticks, and Mitchell Schmitz finished it off. Schmitz took a handoff up the middle, hurdled a defender at the line, and dove into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Warriors up two scores. The drive ate up huge time off the clock, and Lewiston-Altura was in trouble with only 5:15 left in the game, and the score 28-14.

With time winding down, the Cardinals moved the ball down the field on a long drive to get the ball to the Warriors 10-yard line, but Caledonia's defense stood strong and turned the ball over on downs with about a minute left. Austin Bauer kneeled on it the rest of the way, and Caledonia had another section title in the bag. An impressive effort by the Warriors to grind the game away on the ground, and they move on to state with the 28-14 win.

Caledonia's 7th section title in the last 8 years, and 5 state titles in the last 7, will have them with a big target on their back, and everyone in Class AA will be looking to take them down. First up in the quarterfinals will be a match-up with section 4 champ Maple Lake. The game will be Friday, November 7th, 7:00 PM at RCTC in Rochester, Minnesota. The same site as Caledonia's win Friday night. Maple Lake is (10-1) on the year, with their only loss coming on September 5th, a 28-21 loss to Class AAA Pierz. 

Game Notes:

Caledonia found out some unfortunate news this week with another injury to one of it's starters, and their best downfield threat, in wide receiver Colton Lampert. The great thing about the Caledonia Warriors football program, they always find players to step up and take over those roles, and in this game it was Tanner Gran. Gran had two huge touchdowns in the first half with great throws by Austin Bauer, and Tanner showcased how great of an athlete he is both times. On the first touchdown he made an impressive spin move on his defender, and turned on the jets all the way to the end zone. On the second, he ran a stop and go route, had a two step advantage on the cornerback, and made a nice over the shoulder catch to walk into the end zone. Gran and Bauer instantly found chemistry in this game, and they'll need to keep that going forward to keep pressure off the Warriors ground attack. Maple Lake will definitely have to game plan for #89 after seeing this game tape.

The Caledonia offensive line doesn't get the publicity as the position players, but they definitely took over the game in the second half. Brandon Tornstrom, Hunter Hoscheit, Justin Burg, Case McCormick, and Eli Craig were phenomenal in the two scoring drives that ate time off the clock in the second half, and those two drives closed out the game for the Warriors. Most of the time, it was straight-up hat for hat in the trenches, and the Caledonia moving company dominated in this one. Quarterback Austin Bauer and all the Caledonia running backs ran hard with the ball, and blocked their butts off to get the win. Mitchell Schmitz, Alex Goergen, Hunter Hauser-Caldwell, Devan Heaney, and Ben McCabe, along with tight-end Seth Twite deserve a ton of credit for this win. The defensive side of the ball has been getting the majority of the publicity all year long, but the offensive stars won this game for the Warriors. Coach Carl Fruechte had a great offensive game plan, and his play calling made the difference in this one as well. 


Caledonia    7  7  7  7  -  28

Lewiston-A  7  0  7  0  -  14

First quarter: L—Andrew Knapczyk 60 run (Masyn Christie kick) 10:22. C—Tanner Gran 28 pass from Austin Bauer (Alex Goergen kick) 3:52.

Second quarter: C—Gran 36 pass from Bauer (Goergen kick) 4:39.

Third quarter: L—Tyler Blaser 84 pass from Peyton Schumacher (Christie kick) 5:19. C—Bauer 2 run (Goergen kick) :36.

Fourth quarter: C—Mitchell Schmitz 8 run (Goergen kick) 5:15.

Rushing: L—Andrew Knapczyk 14-98, Brady Lange 13-46, Logan Knutson 7-72. C—Mitchell Schmitz 14-64, Austin Bauer 16-86, Devan Heaney 11-25.

Passing: L—Peyton Schumacher 2-15-93-1; C—Austin Bauer 8-12-86-0.

Receiving: L—Tyler Blaser 1-84; C—Tanner Gran 8-86.

Records: L-A 7-4; C 11-0.