Warriors move on to the big stage, state semi-finals at U.S. Bank Stadium
By Dugan Thomas
CALEDONIA, MN - 11/17/2016
It didn't take long for Caledonia Football to set the tone last Saturday on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Minnesota. When the powerful Warriors are locked and loaded and come out firing, there's not much a team can do to stop them. Unfortunately for first-time state football participant Lakeview, they had to learn the hard way in a 58-16 crushing defeat at the hands of the defending state champs.
It only took a few plays for coach Brent Schroeder's defense to figure out the Lakers spread offense. The swarming defense led by seniors Ezekiel Ott and Alex Goergen were all over the Lakeview backfield. A bad throw under pressure by quarterback Isaac Loe into the hands of Caledonia linebacker Jordan Burg triggered the Warriors confidence.
Head coach Carl Fruechte dialed-up running back Ben McCabe's number early and often. A 42-yard dash to the end zone by McCabe opened the scoring and put the Warriors on the board first 7-0. McCabe shot threw the hole quickly, shake-and-baked the Lakers safety, and kicked it into high gear to the sidelines and gone. Just one of McCabe's 3 touchdowns on the day.
The defense continued it's ways with a 3-and-out, and Cal went to work again with great field position. A 16-yard Owen King to Andrew Goergen slant across the middle, and a 22-yard Ben McCabe run brought them to the doorstep. McCabe finished it off easily with a 2-yard waltz into the end zone to make it 13-0 Warriors. The jacked-up Warriors had Lakeview on it's heels in just minutes off the clock.
After a trade of possessions, Caledonia punter Alex Goergen put a charge into one, and Mitchell Bechtel downed it at the Lakers 1-yard line. In just one play Lakeview learned a valuable lesson. Don't run it to the side of #59 at the goal line.
North Dakota Football commit and defensive end Ezekiel Ott shot the gap into the backfield, and they had no chance. Ott smothered the running back in the end zone for a Caledonia Warrior safety. 15-0 Cal.
The Warriors used their wind advantage in the first quarter to gain valuable field position, and they moved quickly down the field after the Lakers free kick. Unfortunately Ben McCabe lost the ball in the scrum fighting for another touchdown at the goal line, and Lakeview took over again inside their 1-yard line.
Could the Caledonia defense get back-to-back safeties within a minute?
Don't ever bet against black.
The black and gold storm came crushing through, and linebacker Mason Staggemeyer met Lakeview's running back head-on in the hole with a monster hit and pushed him back. Another safety added to the scoreboard now 17-0, an unprecedented double safety scoring blitz that had Lakeview reeling.
A couple possessions later Ben McCabe went to work again behind the lead blocking of Alex Goergen. Breaking tackle after tackle, McCabe stayed on his feet and busted through. A 31-yard power and speed combo touchdown run to put Cal up 24-0 in the second quarter.
Just when the Warriors never wanted to look back, they turned the ball over on a fumble, and the Lakers capitalized a couple plays later on a long touchdown pass and 2-point conversion to make it 24-8.
Caledonia never lost it's confidence, and they took back the momentum quickly behind the arm of All-State quarterback Owen King.
King started out with a 33-yard bomb to Andrew Goergen, then finished it off with 23-yard strike across the middle to Sam Barthel, touchdown Warriors, 31-8 with 2 minutes left until halftime.
The Lakers only hope to get back in the game, was to put it in the air. With the Caledonia defense pressuring on every play, Lakers quarterback Isaac Loe couldn't connect, three straight incompletions. Only 13 seconds off the clock, and the ball going right back to the Warriors.
Quarterback Owen King didn't let the 2nd quarter wind in his face affect his laser beams. Back to the middle of the field again, Sam Barthel burned his defender and King hit him in stride on a pretty 28-yard pitch and catch to break the Lakers back again. Touchdown Warriors 38-8.
The Lakers coaching staff had no answer, and they became desperate, going for a 4th down on their own 37-yard line with about a minute left before the half. It was unsuccessful, and the Warriors had the ball back with plenty of time left on the clock. The Warriors and coach Fruechte went for the dagger.
Owen King dropped back with perfect protection and found a wide-open Jordan Burg streaking down the sideline. An easy 24-yard touchdown strike as Burg hauled it in and strolled into the end zone.
There is your dagger. 44-8 Warriors going into halftime. Caledonia wanted to set the tone and make a statement to the rest of Class AA. They did that and more on this Saturday afternoon.
With the huge lead, the second half was ground and pound for the Warriors to eat the clock. First it was Ben McCabe and Alex Goergen, then it was Nick McCabe and Noah Snell moving the team down the field. Owen King capped off two second half scoring drives with short touchdown throws to Andrew Goergen and Sam Barthel, while Lakeview chipped in a late touchdown to make the final score 58-16.
Ben McCabe led all rushers with 212 yards and 3 touchdowns, gaining most of that yardage in the first half. McCabe's season totals are now 1471 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Quarterback Owen King finished 19-25 for 256 yards and 5 touchdowns. This brings his season totals to 152 of 242, for 2340 yards and 39 touchdowns with a 137.3 quarterback rating. Eye popping numbers to say the least for this All-State quarterback.
Andrew Goergen caught 8 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown to lead Cal's receivers. He now leads the team with 1223 yards and 20 touchdowns on the year. Sam Barthel caught 4 of 5 balls thrown his way for 59 yards and 3 touchdowns to highlight his incredible day. The third member of this elite group Jordan Burg caught 5 passes for 62 yards and a 24-yard touchdown.
Defensively, Zeke Ott had 3 tackles, a quarterback sack, and a safety to go with his countless quarterback pressures and hits. Mason Staggemeyer had 5 solo tackles and a safety, with linebacker mates Alex Goergen and Austin Heim both registering 7 solo tackles. Jordan Burg, Tate Meiners, and Ben McCabe each had an interception on the day.
Next up: Barnesville
#2 state ranked and undefeated Barnesville (11-0) will be the semi-final opponent Friday morning at U.S. Bank Stadium 11:30 AM. The Trojans have a monster offensive line and rushing attack. They've rushed for over 3800 yards on the year coming into the state tournament, compared to only 557 passing yards. They only average about 5 passing attempts per game.
Their leading rusher is Brady Tweeton with 1593 yards and 24 touchdowns on the year. The Trojans rely on their winged-T formation for almost all of their offensive output. Double tight ends, quarterback under center, with two running backs behind him, and the third being the wing back. Their bread and butter play is the double handoff reverse with their tight end and quarterback pulling to block in front of the reverse man, usually Tweeton. They mix it up with dives and deception to keep the defense off guard. This kind of offense is a staple to teams in the Northwest corner of the state. The Hawley Nuggets being one of their key rivals in Section 8AA.
The Caledonia defense will have to get penetration into the backfield to disrupt and defend the handoffs and timing. This is what Zeke Ott and company do best. Coach Schroeder will have his crew ready and prepared, I have no doubt about it.
Barnesville definitely hasn't seen a quarterback like Owen King. I believe Coach Fruechte will dial-up the passing attack to loosen them up, then hit them with a steady diet of Ben McCabe to see if they can adjust to one of the best scoring offenses in the state.
The undefeated Barnesville Trojans, versus the undefeated defending state champion Caledonia Warriors.
Caledonia - 38 Barnesville - 14