It was all about effort, Minneapolis North coach Charles Adams III said. Well, that and a little defensive adjustment.
After a first half in which the undefeated Polars gave up 237 yards and 18 points, they tightened up their defense and made things much harder for Paynesville en route to a 44-32 victory Thursday in a Class 2A semifinal.
Adams drew up halftime adjustments and the Polars (12-0) responded.
Holes that seemed so large for the Bulldogs (10-2), who scored on three of their four first-half possessions and led 18-14 at halftime, were no longer there. And whenever Paynesville quarterback Grady Fuchs looked to pass, an onrushing Polar closed in.
"A lot of the stuff in the first half was effort," Adams said. "If something's going wrong, it means we're not doing something right. It was a matter of drawing something out and showing what we expect of them."
Paynesville lineman Spence Evans said, "In the first half, they were going with mostly a four-man line, which is easier to move than five. In the second half, they put some guys in who were big and really fast, too."
While North's defense came around, the offense ran smoothly all game. Running back Terrance Kamara racked up 205 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Zach Yeager ran for 41 yards and a touchdown and passed for 35 yards. Sophomore receiver Rio Sanders had 92 yards of total offense and a touchdown on just seven touches.
The game turned North's way in the third quarter when Kamara scored two touchdowns in a span of 2:28. One capped the Polars' opening drive of the half, the other a direct result of a Paynesville fumble. The scores turned a four-point North deficit into a 30-18 lead.
"You have to tip your hat to them," Paynesville coach Max Meagher said. "Players make plays. Minneapolis North has a really good running back. That receiver is a really good receiver. And that quarterback is a really good athlete. I think North was a better team today."