Caledonia running back Jack Beardmore (24) dodged a tackle attempt by Paynesville's Zach Schroeder (16) in the first half. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • firstname.lastname@example.org
This is Caledonia’s time of year. The Warriors, winners of three consecutive Class 2A state championships, put themselves in position to make it four by thumping Paynesville 40-6.
The domination was such that afterward a big question was not how Caledonia won but how the program, riding a 53-game winning streak, continues to do it.
“We talk about being in the moment,” Caledonia coach Carl Fruechte said. “Before you go on the field, we want you to smile and enjoy it. There shouldn’t be any stress. Play hard, fast and physical and we’ll be happy.”
The Warriors certainly listened. They out-ran and out-hit Paynesville, taking a 27-0 halftime lead. Nick McCabe caught an eight-yard touchdown pass, Jack Beardmore scored from 58 yards out and quarterback Noah King added a pair of short touchdown runs to give the Warriors control.
While the offense was asserting itself, the defense was shutting down Paynesville’s potent offense, holding the Bulldogs to 58 yards of offense in the first half.
Junior Noah King picked up where his celebrated, and now graduated, older brother Owen left off, rushing for three touchdowns and passing for another to lead Caledonia to a 40-6 victory over Paynesville in the Class 2A semifinals.
The two teams also met in the semifinals last year, a 49-16 Warriors' victory.
King threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Nick McCabe in the first quarter and ran for touchdowns of 1, 3 and 2 yards after that as the Warriors seized control. Running backs Jack Beardmore and Nick McCabe chipped in with touchdown runs.
As good as the Caledonia offense was, the defense was equally as good. The Warriors held high-powered Paynesville, which had scored more than 50 points seven times during the season, to just 98 yards of total offense through three quarters.
The Warriors extended their winning streak to 53 consecutive games and earned to opportunity to play for a fourth consecutive state championship.
Check back later for more on the game.