Coon Rapids sophomore tailback David Geebli scores the Cardinals' second touchdown Friday night en route to a 17-14 victory over Andover. The Cardinals clinched their first spot at the state tournament since 1983. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
To everyone outside Coon Rapids, this was unexpected.
It's hard to believe a first-year head coach can come into a program and get it to the state tournament. It's even harder to believe for a program that last reached the state football tournament in 1983 when it won its lone title. A program that lost 22 straight earlier this decade and petitioned to drop down from Class 6A to Class 5A to be more competitive and has had three head coaches in the last four years.
Yet here they are.
Coon Rapids (7-3) won the Class 5A, Section 7 title with a 17-14 win over Andover (5-5) at home Friday.
While the Huskies went to state three straight years from 2015-17 and played in the section final last year, Coon Rapids last played in a section final in 2008. As the fans and players were heard saying after the game, no one even expected the Cardinals to reach this game in the first place.
Look at them now.
Andover junior quarterback Elijah Alexander is sacked in the second half of Friday night's game in Coon Rapids. The Huskies battled back from down 14-0 to tie the game before the Cardinals won it on a late field goal. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
It was a long time coming for the Coon Rapids Cardinals.
Coon Rapids topped Andover 17-14 at home Friday to win the Class 5A, Section 7 title and earn a trip to the state tournament for the first time since 1983.
A diving catch by Jordan Doe at the 1-yard line set up Alex Findley’s game-winning 23-yard field goal with 43.8 seconds left. Andover missed its opportunity to respond when it turned the ball over on downs and Coon Rapids ran out the clock.
The Cardinals struck first when a 47-yard run by David Geebli set up a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jake Van Hulzen to Lucky Morange. The 2-point try was unsuccessful but Coon Rapids entered the half up 6-0.
Van Hulzen completed 10 of 15 passes for 94 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Geebli had 170 rushing yards and a TD.
The Cardinals (7-3) defense also contributed two sacks on third downs, collected an interception and blocked a field goal in the first half.
Down 14-0 in the third, Andover (5-5) converted twice on fourth down to tie the game. One was a 10-yard pass from Elijah Alexander to Keaton Leukam to get within 14-7 with 11:08 to play. Later, a fake punt pass from Ryan Hostad to Jacob Trembley set up a 3-yard run by Dylan Frost that tied it at 14 with 5:18 to go.
Alexander finished with 10 of 23 passing for 150 yards, a TD and an interception. Frost had 89 yards rushing and a TD.
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Coon Rapids junior defensive back Antonio Manos breaks up a pass intended for Andover's Jack Sharon during the first half Friday night in Coon Rapids. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine