2A final: Four out of five ain't bad for Caledonia

  • Article by: JIM PAULSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2011 - 9:59 PM

The Warriors shut down high-scoring Moose Lake-Willow River to win its fourth title in five years.

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If you're going for looks, Caledonia, with its bleach-blond mohawks, is probably not the first place to look.

But the Prep Bowl is about football, not beauty, and in that regard few look better than the Warriors.

Caledonia shut down one of the highest-scoring teams in the state, Moose Lake-Willow River, to earn its fourth Class 2A state championship in five years with a 27-0 victory.

"That's the best team in Class 2A," said Moose Lake-Willow River coach Dave Louzek. "It's a good thing for our kids to see. It give us something to work for in the future."

Heading into it, the game appeared to be a tossup. With three 1,000-yard rushers, Moose Lake averaged nearly 52 points per game en route to a perfect 13-0 record.

Caledonia had suffered one hiccup, a season-opening loss to Plainview-Elgin-Millville, before reeling off 12 victories in a row.

"I think that helped our guys get focused," said Caledonia coach Brent Schroeder. "We don't like to lose."

It showed in the game's opening minutes as Caledonia's defense forced Moose Lake into back-to-back three-and-outs the first two times the Rebels had the ball.

Caledonia also sputtered in its first two possessions but mounted an impressive drive late in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead. The Warriors went 87 yards on nine plays, with quarterback Kennan Bruening finding Adam Drenckhahn on a fade pattern for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

Caledonia controlled play for rest of the first half, holding Moose Lake to one first down and 50 total yards.

"That's our defense," Bruening said. "They get us jacked up."

The Warriors' defense made the game's biggest impact midway through third quarter.

Trailing 13-0, Moose Lake had moved to the Caledonia 1-yard-line, where the Rebels had two plays to try to punch the ball in.

They got nary an inch as the Warriors stuffed Josh Cisar and Chris Gassert on consecutive plays, taking over on downs.

"That took a little wind out of our sails," Louzek said.

It became obvious when Caledonia took over on offense. Connor McCormick carried the ball twice for 48 yards, taking the Warriors out of danger .

That drive ended with a fumble, but Caledonia put the game out of reach on its next possession when McCormick scored from 12 yards out. He tacked on another touchdown in the final minutes and finished with 183 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

"I knew today would be special," Schroeder said. "We played with focus and passion. I can't say enough about these guys."

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