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Defense, speed key trips to state for St. Michael-Albertville, Chaska

By Jim Paulsen, Star Tribune, 11/05/13, 6:46PM CST


The Knights’ defense and the Hawks’ speed keyed football victories.


While it wouldn’t be classified as an upset, the manner in which St. Michael-Albertville handled Rogers in Friday’s Class 5A, Section 6 football championship game certainly could be considered shocking.

The teams played a memorable game for the Mississippi 8 Conference championship on the final night of the regular season. Rogers emerged then with a 38-37 overtime victory. With the undefeated and top-seeded Royals averaging 48 points per game, most of the 3,000-plus fans at Rogers Stadium came expecting another shootout.

But using the loss to devise a game plan and with a week to prepare, St. Michael-Albertville shut down the Rogers offense, winning 21-7. The Knights allowed only 257 yards of offense and twice stopped the Royals on fourth-and-short, once inside its own 5-yard line.

“This time we had more practice time to work with defensive schemes,” Knights coach Jared Essler told the Elk River Star News. “I think that was the difference.”

St. Michael-Albertville advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2008. The Knights (9-1) will play Sartell in the Class 5A quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Cloud State.

Inexperience no problem

When Chaska played host to Mankato West for the Class 5A, Section 2 title Friday, the Hawks were expected to be the team battling butterflies. Mankato West had won five consecutive section championships while Chaska had not been to the state tournament since 1974.

But it was the Scarlets who played jittery, committing three turnovers in the first seven minutes of the game and six overall as the Hawks routed the Scarlets 27-6.

Chaska’s speed played a big role. The Hawks had two long touchdowns — a 67-yard touchdown reception by Calvin Buesgens and a 73-yard run by Kolby Seiffert. It also came into play on defense, allowing Mankato West just one touchdown on six trips inside the Hawks’ 20-yard-line.

“Our guys know what they’re doing out there, and it gets them the extra step and makes them look really fast because they know where they need to be,” Chaska coach Lambert Brown told Eric Kraushar of the Chaska Herald.

Chaska will face Andover in the 5A quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Edina Community Center field.


Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737

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