Wayzata quarterback Nick Martin hands off to running back Antonio Ford on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, during the Class 5A quarterfinal against Moorhead in St. Cloud. Submitted photo
ST. CLOUD - Wayzata went into Saturday's Class 5A state quarterfinal battling two foes -- Moorhead and expectations. And the top-ranked Trojans handled both with ease, cruising to a 28-point halftime lead en route to a 49-14 victory and a return trip to the Metrodome for a huge clash with Cretin-Derham Hall in the semifinals.
The result on the field was about as predictable as white on snow. Moorhead was the surprise winner of Section 8, a team that lost its first three games of the season and had a 3-5 record before getting hot in the postseason.
Defending Class 5A champion Wayzata (11-0), on the other hand, was living up to its billing as the state's best team. Despite losing such key players at Mitch Underhill and Ryan Poppitz to injury, the Trojans keep rolling.
"The thing is, we rarely talk that much about the game itself," Trojans coach Brad Anderson said. "We talk about preparation and focusing on the details. The game will take care of itself."
It was just that balance that drove the Trojans on Saturday. They owned the first half, scoring twice on offense -- two beautifully thrown balls by quarterback Nick Martin, to Ethan Zeidler for 4 yards and Jeff Borchardt for 48 -- and twice on defense, getting a pair of long interception returns for touchdowns by Chris Pierson and Alex Carlson.
Like many championship-caliber teams, Wayzata didn't let up in the second half. Running back Antonio Ford, carrying the load with Eric Roti out because of injury, demonstrated his chops by going 90 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
"I've never run that far for a touchdown in my life," said Ford, who finished with 249 yards on 18 carries. "It felt like I was running in a dream for a while there."
Moorhead (6-6) showed a little spunk in the ensuing drive, getting a touchdown from Chase Morlock to cut the lead to 35-7, but Wayzata answered with another big run from Ford, who went 70 yards before being caught on the 5-yard line.
"I thought I had enough to get to the end zone, but I just ran out of gas," Ford said.
"The best part of that," Anderson said, "was that we had all kinds of our players racing downfield, trying to make a block and get in on the play. They take great pride in getting on the film and making the effort."
Which, frankly, is what winning is all about.