Familiar names keyed Maple Grove’s section final football victory against Minnetonka last Friday, one that sent the Crimson to state.
Running backs Clark Wieneke and Tahi Nomane teamed for 194 yards rushing and one touchdown. Defensive back Isaac Collins and Jake Engelken were in on a combined 26 tackles.
An unsung hero for the undefeated Crimson (10-0) was punter Jebah Doe. Each team punted five times. While two Minnetonka punters averaged 18.6 yards per punt, Doe averaged 36.4 in a game in which field position was huge, defenses ruled and yards were tough to gain.
“We would not have been able to make it to the next game if it wasn’t for Jebah,” Crimson coach Matt Lombardi said. “He was a major difference.”
Doe’s biggest play came late in the first half from his team’s 25-yard line. A high snap over Doe’s head sent him scurrying after the ball. He recovered the ball but didn’t stop there. He got off a punt to Minnetonka’s 33, taking the Skippers out of prime field position.
“Minnetonka was dealing with a longer field most of the night,” Lombardi said. “Jebah helped keep the field kind of tilted in our favor.”
Maple Grove plays Roseville in a Class 6A state tournament quarterfinal game at 8 p.m. Thursday at TCF Bank Stadium. Lombardi expressed concern about Roseville senior quarterback Jacques Perra,who has thrown for 2,549 yards and 30 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Perra has also averaged 44.5 rushing yards per game in the playoffs.
“He’s super,” Lombardi said. “You have to be sound every second you’re playing against him. But we have a saying about good high school quarterbacks — as good as they are, they are still 17. We’re going to try to create pressure on him.”
Eagles, Huskies, Orioles play on
Three more north metro football teams — Totino-Grace, Andover and Osseo — reached their respective state tournaments.
In the Class 5A quarterfinals, Andover drew undefeated Chaska. The teams meet at 1 p.m. Saturday at Edina High School and play contrasting styles of offense. Andover quarterback Connor Wilkie must throw the ball effectively to negate Chaska’s ability to drain time from the clock and energy from defenders with its option running game.
In Class 6A, No. 4 seed Osseo tangles with No. 5 seed Totino-Grace at 8 p.m. Friday at the Metrodome. The game is a rematch of the regular-season finale won 28-14 by Osseo. The Orioles are playing in the state tournament for the first time since 1993. Totino-Grace has won seven state titles in the second-largest class since 2003.
David La Vaque • 612-673-7574