Carter Kopet and the Cleveland offense had been hearing the same refrain from co-head coach Erik Hermanson all year. At some point, the high-scoring Clippers would have to show patience and not depend on explosive plays.

"It's been an ongoing process with these guys," Hermanson said. "We've been preaching 'Take what they give you' all week, until we were blue in the face."

Apparently, the message got through. Cleveland (13-0) put together four long touchdown drives to defeat Cromwell-Wright 38-29 in the Nine-Man semifinals. And Hermanson's face carried not a hint of blue.

Kopet completed 22 of 39 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns, increasing his state record for career touchdown passes to 129. He also rushed for 108 yards and two TDs and intercepted a pass.

"It really wasn't that tough," said Kopet of taking things a bit slower than usual. "We know that the higher you get, you're not just going to be able to throw it 50 yards downfield and catch it for a touchdown every play."

Cromwell-Wright led 22-20 at halftime, but the Cardinals (12-1) hurt themselves with mistakes, turning the ball over four times in the second half and having a penalty stall another drive.

Cleveland's Austin Plonsky intercepted passes on Cromwell's first two possessions, leading to 11 points for the Clippers. Cromwell cut the lead to 31-29, but managed only 12 plays from scrimmage after that.

Jim Paulsen