CALEDONIA FOOTBALL BACK IN THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - WARRIORS HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN ABOUT 2005
Caledonia Football back in the state championship game - Warriors haven't forgotten about 2005
By Dugan Thomas
Newspaper archive courtesy of the La Crosse Tribune, and the La Crosse Public Library.
CALEDONIA, MN - 11/24/2016
This was the coming out party for Caledonia Football in the fall of 2005. Head coach Carl Fruechte had built the program from the ground up. All the pieces were in place, Fruechte and his coaches were doing everything the right way to build a championship caliber program, and the success was showing.
6'4" 220 pound star defensive end Karl Klug just accepted a Division-I scholarship to play for the Iowa Hawkeyes, and the Warriors went undefeated on their way to the state championship game. They were in the headlines, this was their year.
They matched-up in the 2005 title game as the favorite against (11-2) Eden Valley-Watkins, but when the game started it was clear this was going to be a battle.
The Eagles struck first on a touchdown drive to go up 7-0 to take some confidence out of the Warriors. The Eden Valley-Watkins linebackers were shutting down the holes, not allowing the twin running back Klug brothers from breaking free. Then right before halftime, Kevin Klug finally saw daylight, and he was gone.
At least that's what everyone thought, it happened like that all year long, Kevin never got caught.
Klug was ran down and stopped at the 3-yard line, preventing the touchdown. The Eagles stonewalled the Warriors on two straight plays, and then a penalty on third down forced a Warrior field goal try which was missed.
The momentum heading into halftime was gone, Eden Valley-Watkins was making the plays, and the Warriors looked flat with the score still just 7-0.
In the second half, the Warriors got the jump start they needed when Karl Klug ripped off a 71-yard touchdown run. The game was suddenly tied 7-7, and the Caledonia faithful came to their feet.
It didn't last long though, as Eden Valley-Watkins answered right back with a quick touchdown drive to make it 14-7, and the doubt came creeping back into the Warriors heads.
Caledonia was pushing too hard trying to make plays, and they couldn't settle down.
The Eagles on the other hand were playing loose and free, and everything was going their way. They scored again in the second half to make it 21-7, and the Warriors couldn't rally. It was over, Eden Valley-Watkins was the 2005 AA Minnesota state champions.
Carl Fruechte, Brent Schroeder, and their staff teach about adversity in football and in life. There's going to be plenty of tough times. How are you going to handle it, how are you going to move forward.
Caledonia Football dealt with that 2005 setback by working harder to reach their goals, and It didn't take long for the Warriors to get to the top.
They were back in the state championship game in 2007. The Warriors broke through and won their first state title since 1976.
They did it again in 2008 to go back-to-back. 2010, 2011, 2012, state champions.
They narrowly missed out in 2014, but 2015 they dominated. State champs again.
6 state titles in the last 9 years. 126-6 record since 2007.
Caledonia Football has been synonymous with success in the last 10 years. No football program in the State of Minnesota has had a 10-year run like the Warriors.
After the state semi-final win versus Barnesville, head coach Carl Fruechte was asked about his next opponent. "What do you think about Eden Valley-Watkins in the Prep Bowl?"
A sly grin grew over coach Fruechte's face. "Yeah, we played them in '05...So yeah...looking forward to it".
No matter how well you deal with adversity and move forward to tremendous success.
You never forget about the ones that got away.
Caledonia Trounces Barnesville 55-20
Caledonia Football came out firing in this state semi-final like every other game this season. A couple of 3-and-outs, and a quick score to go up early. Then something uncharacteristic happened.
They gave up 13 straight points to go down 13-7. This hasn't happened to a Caledonia football team since 2014.
Quarterback Owen King was asked in the press conference afterward, "When's the last time you've been down in a football game?"
Owen thought about it, and then realized the truth. "I've never been down in a game as a starting quarterback."
He must not have liked that feeling, because Owen King and his team went on a 34-0 run to essentially put the game out of reach by halftime at 41-13. They added two more scores in the second half to turn a close game into a 55-20 rout.
Head coach Carl Fruechte said afterward. "We talk about it all the time. How are we going to handle that? How are we going to respond? So...we were ready for it when it happened."
The Warriors gave Barnesville a slight opening, then locked the doors to another state title game with a dominant onslaught performance at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Quarterback Owen King finished with 222 yards passing and 4 touchdowns, to go with another touchdown on the ground. The Junior All-State quarterback is now 27-0 as a starter the last two years.
His favorite receiver Andrew Goergen had 7 receptions for 111 yards and 3 touchdowns. Even with Barnesville's best athlete covering Goergen, he had plenty of separation all day, and had to be double covered most of the game.
Fellow receiver Jordan Burg had 87 yards receiving and a 44-yard touchdown on the day. #17 picked-up a couple huge first downs on touchdown drives in the first half, and high pointed the touchdown bomb perfectly, his defender had absolutely no chance.
Running back Ben McCabe was a spark plug all day long. He had 95 yards rushing and 3 spectacular touchdown runs. His power and speed combination had Barnesville grasping for air and getting knocked out of the way.
The Caledonia defensive effort was led by soon to be All-State defensive end Ezekiel Ott. The North Dakota Football commit had 4 solo tackles, a 15-yard sack, and 3 tackles for loss. Zeke forced a fumble on a delayed handoff and terrorized the quarterback all day. Through this season Ott has legitimized himself as maybe the best defensive player in all of Minnesota.
Turnovers were the key in this one, just like they always are. It snowballed for Barnesville and the turnovers just kept coming. Marten Morem had an interception, and a 23-yard return to trigger a quick Caledonia touchdown. Zeke Ott and Ryan Wagner each had forced fumbles, while Ethan Zahn, Alex Goergen, Austin Werner, and Austin Heim all recovered fumbles. The leading tacklers were Brent Robley, Mason Staggemeyer, and Alex Goergen with 5 solo tackles apiece.
The unsung heroes, there were plenty. Austin Werner was incredibly active at his defensive tackle spot, constantly getting into the backfield and creating pressure. He had 2 solo tackles, a recovered fumble, and converted 7 of 8 extra points on the day.
The offensive line was great all day, and the game tape backed it up. I thought the right side tandem of Spencer Stemper and Nick Loging had their best games to date, with huge holes opened up for Ben McCabe's touchdowns. FB/TE Alex Goergen set the edge on most of those big runs with his punishing blocks, #21 is a machine.
Speaking of Alex Goergen. The running back, fullback, tight end, linebacker, special teams ace had a day. 9 kickoffs with a 51.7 yard average, a couple even reaching the end zone for touchbacks. 2 kick returns for 57 yards, with a long of 41 yards to put the Warriors in great field position. An 11-yard reception, 5 solo tackles, a recovered fumble, and multiple Barnesville players pancaked on their back. So, just another day for the multi-talented Alex Goergen.
Minnesota Class AA State Championship
Friday, November 25th
U.S. Bank Stadium - Minneapolis, MN
(13-0) Caledonia vs. (11-1) Eden Valley-Watkins
State titles: Caledonia - 1976, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015. Eden Valley-Watkins - 2005