MSHSL State Football 2017 - Caledonia Warriors back at it again
By Dugan Thomas
Caledonia running back Mason Staggemeyer breaks free in the Section 1AA victory over Triton.
CALEDONIA, MN - 11/10/2017
There hasn't been too many years in the last decade that Caledonia Football hasn't made the MN Class AA State Football Tournament.
That number would be 1.
1 year out of the last 11 to be exact. 2007-2017 Caledonia Football's name has been in the state football program as the Section 1AA champion. Except for 2013, when Chatfield knocked the Warriors off in overtime and went on to win the state championship convincingly.
Caledonia Football has brought home the state title 7 times in those last 10 years. (2007,2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016). They are repeatedly good year-after-year because of their coaching and their preparation. From the weight room ,to the classroom, to the dinner table, and to the practice field, these athletes have been groomed to be ready for moments like this. Head Coach Carl Fruechte and Assistant Head Coach Brent Schroeder talk to their team about it all the time. It's a game-at-a-time mentality. No opponent will ever be overlooked, and they respect every team that's in front of them.
That is especially true this year, as the luck of the draw came up, it will be #1 Caledonia vs. #2 Minneapolis North in the state quarterfinal tonight at Burnsville High School. With Minneapolis North playing in the metro, and Caledonia playing in the south common opponents are non-existent. Minneapolis North moved-up to Class AA this year, after they captured the Class A state title last year over Rushford-Peterson. In 2015 they were runner-up to Minneota in the state title game at TCF Bank. They are a program on the rise, and they have the players to prove it under Head Coach Charles Adams. They are big, they are strong, and they are fast. An extremely athletic group.
The North Polars currently have a 23-game winning streak to the credit, and they average 47 points per game on offense, and give up only 12.1 points per game defensively. They took down Maple Lake 44-30 last Friday night in what looked to be about 6 inches of snow in Monticello to earn their bid into the state tourney.
Minneapolis North's top running back Kehyan Porter is 210 pounds and has rushed for over 1,600 yards this season. Quarterback Armon Dalton is a 5'11" 170-pound athlete who's passed for 1,200 yards and 22 touchdowns. The big size is on the line where 6'5" 270 pound lineman Odell Wilson resides.
What Caledonia doesn't have in size, they make up for with pure talent, athleticism, and speed. It all starts with their 2-time first-team All-State quarterback Owen King. Another incredibly strong 2017 for King with 2,194 yards passing and 34 touchdowns, with only 4 interceptions. He also had 222 yards on the ground and another 8 touchdowns. The best football player in the state in my humble opinion, but Owen just this week signed his official letter of intent to attend NCAA D-I South Dakota State on a full basketball scholarship. Before he moves to the court though, there's still unfinished business left for King, as he'd love nothing more than to lead the Warriors to a third straight state football championship.
Senior LB/WR Jordan Burg had a huge game in the section championship with Triton. The ABC 6 Male Prep Athlete of the Week turned the tide in a close game with a blocked punt as he scooped-and-scored for a touchdown to give Caledonia all the momentum. The rout was on from there as Caledonia scored 29 unanswered points to pull away for a 35-7 victory. Burg also had 2 intertceptions, 27 yards receiving, and a 2-point conversion. The versatile performer had 630 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns on the year to lead the ultra-talented receiving group.
Caledonia is thrilled to have All-Conference receiver Andrew Goergen back from injury as he returned to form in the section championship with 84 yards receiving and a touchdown. Goergen has 36 receptions for 597 yards on the year with 9 touchdowns. A favorite target of Owen King, Goergen is the best route-runner on the team, and has incredible hands. #20 was just picked to represent the South All-Stars, at the MFCA State All-Star football game in December, an incredible honor.
Out with an injury last week, the Warriors are hoping to get Sam Barthel back in the line-up this week. The fastest player on the team had 405 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns to his credit this season. He's a match-up nightmare who can take it deep at any time and will fly right by you in an instant.
CB/WR Marten Morem also had a huge game against Triton to lead the Warriors to victory. The 6'5" athlete had 3 receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown to become a major player on both sides of the ball. The shutdown corner barely gets looks on his side of the field, and there's no way anyone would throw a jump ball at the 6'5" Morem.
RB/LB Mason Staggemeyer is a stud...period. Defensively he's a rock in the middle who's a thumper. He had multiple stops on a goal line stand in the first half against Triton to deny them the end zone. On the year Staggemeyer led the team with 64 solo tackles, a sack, an interception, and 3 forced fumbles. At running back on Friday night, Mason led the team with 115 yards on 20 attempts, and on the year he's rushed for 491 yards and 4 touchdowns in a pass heavy attack. #22 is the leader of this defense.
RB/LB Nick McCabe is also a dual threat performer who likes to use his speed and athleticism to get to the outside. McCabe led the team in rushing with 548 yards and 3 touchdowns. Defensively the linebacker had 44 solo tackles and 2 fumble recoveries to his credit. I've seen the junior get more physical throughout the year at both fullback and linebacker, he's really developed his game as the year's gone on.
The back end of the defense is stout with safety Tate Meiners leading the charge. He's the last line of defense, and always makes the sure tackle. Meiners totaled 50 tackles on the year, with 3 interceptions, a forced fumble, and 2 recoveries. CB Payton Schott has really looked sharp through the middle of the season taking over for Andrew Goergen, with 3 interceptions and 16 solo tackles.
The rock in the middle of both the offensive and defensive lines is senior Brent Robley. With 46 solo tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles on the year, Robley's strength and quickness are what keeps him in the headlines. Spencer Stemper, Ryan Wagner, and Noah Snell round out the defensive line with multiple players rotating in.
The offensive line will have their hands full this week with the strength and size of Minneapolis North up-front. Robley, Stemper, Arick Bauer, David Seymour, Walker Spier, Riley Cordes, Matt Gavin, and company will be up to the task to match the much bigger Polars. I'm sure Coach Fruechte has been working with them all week on their footwork and technique, the only way to offset the difference.
A couple other players that have come on for Caledonia this year, Austin Heim with 37 tackles, 174 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. Kyle Cavanaugh with 16 tackles, 2 sacks, and 175 yards receiving with 2 touchdowns. Evan Denstad with 31 solo tackles from his linebacker spot, and Mitchel Welsh with 113 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on the year playing the bruising fullback position.
Caledonia has the best coaches in the State of Minnesota, they have proven that time and time again with one of the best football programs in the state, regardless of division. Minneapolis North has a program on the rise under Coach Adams, with a state title under their belt, and growing confidence.
This game might be the marquee game of the playoffs this weekend in the whole State of Minnesota, all eyes will be on Burnsville. The weather forecast for tonight is cold and cloudy, a low of 26 degrees with 10-15 mph winds. It won't be fun for these teams, but we'll see which one handles it the best. The winner moves on to the comfy confines of U.S. Bank Stadium next week.
Good luck and God bless.