St. Cloud Tech coach Gregg Martig had kept a little something up his sleeve for the last few weeks, waiting for the right moment to break it out.
The Tigers, using running back James Kaczor out of the Wildcat formation for the first time all season, pulled away in the second half to defeat host Rogers 40-14 in the Class 5A, Section 6 semifinals.
Kaczor, a 6-1 senior, rushed 32 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns, his highest rushing total of the season. And when Rogers went all out to stop Kaczor's running, he showed a competent arm, completing two of three passes for 68 yards and a touchdown.
"We try to always have something that no one's ever seen," Martig said of snapping the ball to the running back. "We've had it in for about 3½ weeks, but we haven't shown it."
St. Cloud Tech, the No. 3 seed in Section 6, started off in a traditional offensive set, but Rogers was plugging the middle and the Tigers weren't able to find much running room.
That's when they tapped Kaczor and his Wildcat skills.
"We've been practicing it for the last three or four weeks, waiting for a game when we wanted to bring it out," Kaczor said. "It worked well today. It's a lot of fun for me, carrying the ball like that."
The two teams traded defensive touchdowns in the first quarter. Rogers got a 10-yard fumble return from Hunter Stull to take 7-0 lead. St. Cloud Tech responded with a sack by Graham Nistler and fumble recovery in the end zone by Brady Underwood for a 7-7 tie.
Things went largely the Tigers' way after that. Kaczor picked his way through the Rogers defense for 96 first-half yards and a touchdown as his team took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
Each team scored a touchdown in the third quarter, but Tech's physical play and Kaczor's running sapped Rogers' comeback chances. The Tigers scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
"No. 11 [Kaczor] is a stud," Rogers coach Marc Franz said. "He would just pick his spots. He's a tremendous football player."
After the game Kaczor said the victory was St. Cloud Tech's introduction to the rest of the state.
"We're an outstate team, so we don't get a lot of attention," he said. "I think people will know about us pretty quickly."