Caledonia grinds out hard fought 20-12 win over Maple Lake, next up state semi-finals vs. BOLD
By Dugan Thomas
Caledonia's Mitchell Schmitz carries the ball in the first quarter Friday night, with lineman Hunter Hoscheit and quarterback Austin Bauer in the background.
ROCHESTER, MN - 11/07/2014
The Caledonia Warriors football team is back in the MSHSL Class AA football tournament after a one year hiatus, looking to add a seventh state title to their storied trophy case. The drive for seven started Friday night in Rochester against Maple Lake, a formidable run first opponent that averaged 341 yards a game coming into the contest.
Caledonia received the opening kickoff and went right to work with a standard two-back eye formation and a three receiver set. It didn't take long for quarterback Austin Bauer to find stud receiver Tanner Gran. On the second play of the series, Bauer dropped back and lofted a beautiful pass down the left sidelines, and Gran hauled it in for a big 33-yard reception. Running back Devan Heaney carried the rock, and had multiples nice gains to put the Warriors at the 4-yard line. Austin Bauer finished it off with a quick pass to Seth Twite in the end zone for a pretty pitch and catch 4-yard touchdown to put the Warriors on the board quickly. The extra-point was missed, but Caledonia was up 6-0.
The Maple Lake Irish started with their two-back offset eye formation, and put the dive play right to work with stud running back Cal Redemske. On their second play they tried the pitch to Dusty Strub, but the ball went off his fingertips, and Caledonia defensive lineman Eli Craig was right there to jump on it. The huge turnover at Maple Lake's own 14-yard line was disastrous for the Irish, and Caledonia would soon capitalize.
Devan Heaney and Mitchell Schmitz carried the ball to put them into position, and Austin Bauer finished it off with a 3-yard touchdown run up the gut to put Caledonia on the board again. With the Alex Goergen extra-point added on, Caledonia had a 13-0 lead with 8:34 still left in the first quarter. A great start for the Warriors, and a nightmare for Maple Lake as they looked to get back on track.
The Irish did that with the dive and the pitch, moving the ball down the field methodically on the ground. Aided by multiple offsides penalties on the Warriors defense, Maple Lake picked up first downs to get them into the red zone. Cal Redemske then took one off tackle, and rumbled into the end zone from 17-yards out to put Maple Lake on the board. A crucial extra point kick was missed, and the score was 13-6 Warriors.
Both Caledonia and Maple Lake had multiple good drives through the second quarter that yielded scoring chances, but the defenses stepped up and stood strong. Caledonia had a big defensive stop right before the half, when the Irish were driving inside the 20. Maple Lake was forced to pass with time winding down, but Tanner Langen and the Caledonia defense wiped it out, and the Warriors held a 13-6 lead going into the third quarter.
Maple Lake struck first after the half, with a scoring drive finished off by a Dusty Strub 4-yard touchdown run to close to 13-12. An offsides penalty by Caledonia on the extra-point kick had Irish head coach Tim Knutsen change his mind, and they decided to go for a 2-point conversion and the lead. At the 1-yard line the Caledonia defense came through in a big way, stuffing the dive play in it's tracks, and the Warriors held the 13-12 advantage.
With the game going into the fourth quarter, Caledonia offensive coordinator Carl Fruechte knew he needed a big play, and he went into his bag of tricks. Quarterback Austin Bauer pitched to Mitchell Schmitz, and the former quarterback launched one down the field to a well covered Tanner Gran. It didn't matter to Gran, as he went over his defender, catching the ball at it's highest point and hauling it in for a huge 32-yard reception.
From their power-I formation, Schmitz picked up another 6-yards right up the middle, then Bauer called for another quarterback power sweep. Instead of taking it to the outside off tackle, Bauer saw a lane on the backside. He squirted through the hole, and high stepped it into the end zone for a crucial 8-yard touchdown, and a 7-point lead. The Alex Goergen extra-point kick was good, and the lead stretched to 8 with the Warriors gaining huge momentum in the quarter.
The Caledonia defense stopped Maple Lake's next series with a three-and-out, and the Warriors offense continued where it left off. Mitchell Schmitz and Austin Bauer continued the ground attack picking up first downs, and taking crucial time off the clock. At the Irish 26-yard line and 4th down, the Warriors needed 1-yard. Austin Bauer tried to sneak it to the right, and with the second effort it looked like he got there. The official didn't think so, and for some odd reason only known to him, he refused to call for a measurement, even after the Caledonia coaching staff pleaded for one. A huge call that gave Maple Lake another chance, and they needed 8-points with time winding down.
With Caledonia playing a prevent defense, Maple Lake had two different series to move the ball down the field. They definitely made it interesting right until the end, but the Warriors prevailed, and punched their ticket to state semi-finals with the 20-12 victory.
With the demolition of the Metrodome, and the construction of the new Vikings stadium taking two years, semi-final games are played on neutral sites scattered around the Twin Cities. Caledonia will take on BOLD at Eden Prairie High School Saturday, November 15th, at 12:00 Noon. BOLD beat Hawley 21-9 Friday night to advance to the semi-finals. Caledonia beat BOLD 26-24 in a tough semi-final contest in 2012, with the Warriors going on to win the state title that year over Moose Lake-Willow River. Caledonia is an undefeated (12-0) on the year, and BOLD is (11-1) with their only loss coming to Paynesville Area 32-13.
Mitchell Schmitz led the defensive effort with 14 tackles, and also had 37 yards rushing on 11 carries. Schmitz had the big halfback pass to Tanner Gran for 31 yards, and his energy and toughness were crucial in this win, picking up multiple first downs on the ground.
Seth Twite had 10 tackles from his linebacker spot, and also had the first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard reception from Austin Bauer. A great spinning off balance catch that he made look easy, and showed off his athleticism. Twite definitely gets the award for the best state playoff haircut, and if you look at his picture on this page, you'll see why.
Austin Bauer had another incredible game completing 9-16 for 103 yards and a touchdown through the air. He rushed 10 times for 30 yards with another 2 touchdowns on the ground. The second was an impressive sprint through the line with great vision, nailing down the final points in the game. He also had 5 tackles from his safety position, and his leadership and energy are critical for this team.
Tanner Gran had 90 yards receiving on 8 receptions leading the team again. The quick passes to Gran at the line of scrimmage were critical in keeping drives going, and he also had the impressive 31-yard reception on the halfback pass from Mitchell Schmitz, and a 33-yard reception in the first quarter.
Tanner Langen had a huge 40-yard catch down the sidelines, an impressive adjustment to the ball, and one that truly showed off his athleticism. He also has been doing a great job locking down one side of the field from his cornerback spot, and rarely gives up a reception. He's definitely one of the best defensive players on the field, and doesn't get the attention he deserves.
MSHSL Class AA Quarterfinal
Caledonia 13 0 0 7 - 20
Maple Lake 6 0 6 0 - 12
First quarter: C—Seth Twite 4 pass from Austin Bauer (kick failed) 8:34; C—Bauer 3 run (Alex Goergen kick) 6:14; ML—Cal Redemske 17 run (kick failed) 0:56.
Third quarter: ML—Dusty Strub 4 run (run failed) 1:43.
Fourth quarter: C—Bauer 8 run (Goergen kick).
Rushing: ML—Redemske 33-126; C—Devan Heaney 12-57.
Passing: ML—Tony Goelz 6-23-0-88; C—Bauer 9-16-2-103, Schmitz 1-1-0-31.
Receiving: ML—McRae Haney 2-50; C—Tanner Gran 8-90.
Total yards: ML—184-88—272; C—127-134—261.
Fumbles: ML—2-1; C—1-0.
Records: ML 10-2; C 12-0.