Alex Varney passed on Caledonia’s celebratory postgame pile-up, opting to walk around the Metrodome in teary-eyed ecstasy and wrapping himself in congratulatory hugs.
Moments earlier Friday, teammate Levi Schmitz booted a 24-yard field straight and true with no time remaining to give Caledonia a 25-22 victory against Moose Lake-Willow River and a third consecutive state title.
Caledonia, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, won the title game rematch with the second-ranked Rebels.
“It’s the greatest thing,” Varney said. “It was great to make history this year.”
Varney, who threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brad Strub just before halftime, made a bigger play in the fourth quarter. Moose Lake, leading 22-15, had turned Caledonia over on downs at the Rebels’ 2-yard line. But three plays later, Varney intercepted a tipped ball and his 14-yard touchdown return tied the score 22-22.
A short punt on Moose Lake’s next possession was downed at the Rebels’ 47-yard line. Caledonia (13-0) had scored on its previous three drives that started in Rebels territory. Schmitz’s field goal made the Warriors 4-for-4.
Schmitz lost track of time until he saw coaches frantically calling for a timeout with one second to play. Moose Lake followed with a timeout to give Schmitz more time inside his own head.
“It was more nerves than I ever felt before,” Schmitz said. “I closed my eyes and imagined the ball going through the uprights. I kept calm because I knew that I’ve put in a lot of hours kicking and it would all pay off in this one second.”
Moose Lake (13-1) took second for the third time in four seasons.
The Rebels’ fortunes appeared to have changed in the third quarter. Two long touchdowns — a 71-yard Jake Disterhaupt run and 84-yard pass from Tony Adamczak to Isaac Coil — put them ahead 22-15.
“That gave us a little momentum but with Caledonia’s championship experience, they never flinch,” Moose Lake coach Dave Louzek said. “They kept fighting and that’s why they are still the best team in the state.”
The victory was Caledonia’s sixth state championship overall and fifth since 2007.