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Willmar overwhelms St. Paul Johnson in 4A semifinal

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune, 11/16/18, 7:15PM CST


Quarterback Drey Dirksen ran for three touchdowns, then threw for four more in the Cardinals' 62-20 victory over the Governors, making their first state tournament appearance since 1981.

Willmar wide receiver Jake Evans (3) fell into the end zone as he caught a touchdown pass in the first half. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

All season long, Willmar’s football team found success when starting games with the ball.

“We like to receive every single time because we like to the have the offense push the team and get the adrenaline going,” senior quarterback Drey Dirksen said.

The formula led to a 62-20 blowout of St. Paul Johnson on Friday in the Class 4A semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium. Willmar won the coin toss, elected to receive, scored first and scored often.

Willmar, ranked No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll, led 7-0 just four plays and 57 seconds into the game. Dirksen ran 25 yards for the first of seven Cardinals’ touchdowns in which he had a hand (or leg).

“We had some fantastic plays on the first drive and it was fun,” said Dirksen, who ran for the first three Willmar scores and threw for the next four. He finished with 90 yards rushing and 215 yards passing.

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