Through 24 games and two seasons, Caledonia quarterback Owen King has been unstoppable

By Dugan Thomas

, MN
- 11/4/2016

On August 22, 2015, a new era of Caledonia Football commenced. After missing the state title game for two straight years (2013-2014), the Warriors winners of 5 state titles in 6 years (2007-2012), had an extremely talented and experienced team returning in 2015. Taking over the quarterback reigns for this team was a sophomore known more for shooting 3-pointers, than throwing touchdowns.

Owen King had started for Josh Diersen’s basketball team as an eight-grader. His athletic skills were well known inside the Warriors coaching circles, but on the varsity Minnesota football fields, it had yet to be seen. August 22, 2015, the Warriors first game against La Crescent was the starting point. King threw for 102 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 55-7 rout, that had Sam Stemper and Mitchell Schmitz both rushing for over 100 yards in a balanced attack.

It escalated from there, as Owen King started throwing for 4 touchdowns a game, 5 touchdowns a game, 6 touchdowns a game. Along with wide receivers Tanner Gran, Colton Lampert, and Jacob Winjum, backfield mates Stemper and Schmitz, King had the Warriors offense rolling, averaging over 47 points a game through an undefeated regular season.

It continued through the postseason as King and the Warriors dominated. 271 yards passing and 4 touchdowns versus Lewiston-Altura in the section title game. 229 yards passing and 5 touchdowns versus Blue Earth Area. 218 yards passing and 6 total touchdowns in the state semi-final versus Ottertail Central. If anyone throughout the state hadn’t heard about Caledonia quarterback Owen King, they sure did now.

The Warriors were back in the state championship game behind their sophomore sensation quarterback, their senior skill position stars, and a stonewall defense giving up less than 5 points per game. Pipestone had seen Caledonia on tape, but they had no clue what kind of firestorm would be coming at them on this Friday November afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium.

Owen King and tight end Alex Goergen hooked up on two passes across the middle for two easy touchdowns to open the scoring. Then Sam Stemper bulldozed his way for another 2 touchdowns to make it 27-0 through the middle of the second quarter, and there was still time left for one more offensive shot in the half.

Owen King play-action faked to Stemper, and tear-dropped a perfect 39-yard spiral to Colton Lampert who beat his defender for another Warrior touchdown. Former Minnesota Gopher and TV color commentator Justin Conzemius had this to say immediately afterward. "I don't know if we'll find a more impressive quarterback on the Prep Bowl stage this year...and again, he's a sophomore".

The dominant Warrior performance continued in the second half, with another big-time splash play by King, teaming up again with wide receiver Colton Lampert. Flushed from the pocket on a huge blitz up the middle, King narrowly avoided the pressure and took-off to his right outrunning the defenders into the clear. Most quarterbacks would take off and run and get what they could in high school football, but not this one.

King spotted Lampert running parallel to the goal line through the end zone, and drilled a bullet from a flat-out run to Lampert, who made a beautiful catch in the corner keeping his feet in-bounds for the touchdown. Conzemius continued. "Best play of the day...could be the best play of the Prep Bowl. Great throw and great catch, to keep your poise and deliver under pressure like that...very impressive".

This one was a dominant and balanced state championship win. 207 yards passing and 4 touchdowns through the air for Owen King. 2 touchdowns and 121 yards receiving for Colton Lampert. 2 touchdowns and 36 yards receiving for Alex Goergen. 167 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns for Sam Stemper, and the Caledonia defense gave up only 9 first downs, and 114 total yards of offense to Pipestone.

Owen King's performance through that 14-0 state championship season, had huge numbers to go with it. 2403 yards passing, and 44 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions. A 64% completion percentage, and a 140.8 quarterback rating. An incredible performance for any quarterback, but especially a sophomore first year starter. That performance earned him Associated Press First-team All-State, with only 2 quarterbacks in the state making the first-team squad.

There was no time for Owen King to rest through November and the rest of winter, as he led the Caledonia basketball team back to State for the third year in a row. Averaging 19.8 points, 6.4 assists, and 5.5 rebounds a game, King was getting noticed by college recruiters in both football and basketball as a sophomore. His summer schedule of AAU basketball tournaments, and football camps was demanding, but King wouldn't want it any other way.

First-year Division I South Dakota State head coach TJ Otzelberger dropped the first offer as he watched Owen King tear-up the AAU circuit with his Wisconsin Playmakers squad. Heading into his high school Junior season, King had a big-time scholarship offer, but wanted to keep his options open.

Back to quarterback for the Warriors this fall, I noticed some differences in Owen King's appearance. Those shoulders are big and square, the lower body and that 6' 2" frame was filling out that uniform and looking stout. The confidence and leadership from the get-go was impressive as King came out firing. 4 total touchdowns in a 45-14 beating of La Crescent. New favorite receiver Andrew Goergen had 104 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns in the game. New starting tailback Ben McCabe had 106 yards rushing and a touchdown. Senior defensive-end stud Ezekiel Ott was terrorizing the Lancers on every play, finishing with 5 tackles and a sack. Caledonia Football was back in 2016, and back in a big way.

A tough test with Triton at home on September 23rd opened some eyes when the Cobras clawed within a touchdown of the Warriors in the 3rd quarter. Owen King wanted the ball, and he took over with two touchdowns to Andrew Goergen in the 4th quarter to complete the 42-20 win and keep the Warriors undefeated. King passed for 359 yards and 6 touchdowns on the night. One certain fan in the stands was delighted with the performance and traveled a long distance to see it.

South Dakota State head basketball coach TJ Otzelberger came to Caledonia to see Owen King play in person. I had noticed TJ was following my Twitter feed, and the many Owen King touchdown updates that went with it since early in the season. I'm guessing TJ figured he better get to Caledonia and turn-up the pressure before the big-time football recruiters got to him.

It worked to perfection, as Owen made a gut decision that he had been mulling for some time. He loved everything about the South Dakota State basketball program, and always dreamed of playing at the next level. King gave a verbal commitment to Otzelberger, and took all the speculation out of which sport he'd pursue. A brilliant move to keep his focus on the task at hand. Winning state championships for the Caledonia Warriors sports programs.

Back to the season, meant back to dominance. The most impressive Owen King moment came at Chatfield on October 19th. The Warriors get the ball back with 26 seconds left on the clock before halftime, and 69 yards to go for a touchdown. It started with a 19-yard sideline completion to Andrew Goergen, then a 15-yard sideline completion again to Goergen, clock stopping both times with Andrew getting out of bounds. King to Jordan Burg on a comeback route for 13-yards and out of bounds. With time left for only one play, Owen King took his drop, gave a shoulder fake to freeze the safety, and fired a bullet to the back of the end zone between two defenders and into the hands of Sam Barthel, who made an incredible catch getting a foot in-bounds with 1 second left on the clock. Touchdown Warriors. Second consecutive regular season undefeated.

45-14 over Cotter, 49-14 over Lewiston-Altura gets us to this, the Section 1AA championship game tonight versus Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 8:00 PM Rochester Sports Stadium.

24 straight wins over two seasons led by quarterback Owen King. He had enormous help.

The offensive line this year led by Brandon Robley, Carson Bullerman, Spencer Stemper, Brent Robley, and Nick Loging.

Tight end Alex Goergen's 200 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns.

A dynamic receiving corps led by Andrew Goergen's 908 yards and 17 touchdowns. With Jordan Burg, Sam Barthel, Marten Morem, and Thomas Jergenson setting a first-class rotation.

The power and speed of running back Ben McCabe's 1117 yards and 17 touchdowns. His brother Nick McCabe contributing 430 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The Caledonia defense gives up only 9 points a game, and 162 yards a game. Led by North Dakota Football commit and defensive end Ezekiel Ott. 25 tackles, 7 sacks, and 2 fumble recoveries on the year.

Defensive lineman Ethan Zahn, Brent Robley, and Austin Werner.

Linebackers Brandon Robley, 48 tackles. Mason Staggemeyer, 47 tackles. Alex Goergen, 35 tackles. Jordan Burg, 26 tackles.

The defensive secondary of  Mitchell Bechtel, Marten Morem, and Ben McCabe.

The best coaching staff in the State of Minnesota led by Carl Fruechte and Brent Schroeder.

A #1 ranking and another trip to State on the line. Caledonia looking for their 9th trip to State in the last 10 years.

Get ready, because We Are...