Former Orono football coach Jeff Weiland still teaches social studies at the high school.
But it was his lesson plan as first-year Holy Angels defensive coordinator that fueled the Stars' 27-14 victory at Orono on Tuesday in a Class 4A, Section 5 quarterfinal.
The defense, rebuilt during the season after injuries sidelined six starters for various amounts of time, coalesced for the postseason.
"We had to rebrand ourselves with the new guys we had out there," Holy Angels coach Jim Gunderson said. "We had the mind-set that we were training for the playoffs."
Gunderson praised Weiland for "dialing it up on defense. He had a little extra motivation."
In the teams' Oct. 11 meeting, Orono's offense kept pulling away in a 35-21 victory. But the success wasn't transferable. Holy Angels scored on each of its two first-quarter drives Tuesday and built a 14-0 lead while the Spartans struggled.
"To be successful, we have to get the run game going, and they were stopping everything we were trying to run up the middle," Orono coach Joe McPherson said.
Meanwhile, the Holy Angels offense keep moving. Junior running back Emmett Johnson set the tone with a 21-yard rush on the Stars' first play from scrimmage and continued to run hard all evening.
"He makes me look good; he's incredible," junior quarterback Theo Doran said.
The defense also earned Doran's praise.
"That was probably the best game our defense had all year and that's saying something because they've had two shutouts," he said.
Doran wasn't too shabby, either. He and Johnson connected on a long pass play they only began practicing this week. The play set up a 15-yard touchdown pass to William Ballard for a 20-7 lead with 27 seconds to go before halftime.
Ballard hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Doran in the third quarter to build a commanding 27-7 lead against No. 4 seed Orono (3-6).
Doran said the No. 5 seed Stars (5-4), "came in with the mentality that we were supposed to lose, that we're the underdogs from here on out. We took that to heart."
That identity won't change Saturday as the Stars advance to play at 7 p.m. at No. 1 seed Benilde-St. Margaret's (8-0). The Red Knights defeated Holy Angels 37-14 on Sept. 27.