11/3/2017 1:53:00 PM Second rematch doesn't go well for 'Cats, lose to Andover in final game of the year
Andover 50, Chisago Lakes 24 A relentless Andover Huskies offense, a key turnover and an injury to starting quarterback Henry Trost added up to a 50-24 defeat for the Wildcat football team in the Section 7AAAAA semifinals at Andover on Saturday, October 28. The loss ended the season for the #5-seeded Wildcats (3-7) and sent the #1-seeded Huskies (7-2) on to host tomorrow night’s championship game against the #6-seeded St. Francis Fighting Saints (3-7). St. Francis, whom the Wildcats beat earlier this season, upset #2-seeded Coon Rapids in the other semifinal to earn the right to play Andover for a trip to the state tournament.
The Huskies went on two long drives that consumed most of the first quarter and found them leading 16-0 with 52 seconds remaining in the quarter. But on the Wildcats’ next play from scrimmage, Trost kept the ball, slid through a nice hole up the middle and was gone, racing straight down the middle of the field for an 80 yard touchdown. Fullback Manny Rosario went up the middle for two points and the Wildcats had cut the lead in half with 36 seconds left in the first quarter. But the Huskies came right back with a six play, 80 yard drive, culminating in a 39 yard touchdown pass that was nearly picked off by Wildcat defensive back Peter Vitalis. Andover led 22-8 with 10:28 left in the second quarter.
The ensuing kickoff turned out to be the first of two key plays that sealed the fate of the Wildcats. The Andover kicker kicked off with a hard grounder to the right. As Rosario moved to pick it up or fall on it at the Wildcats 30, he inadvertently kicked the ball about ten yards forward. The Huskies fell on it and had the ball at the Wildcat 39. A 34 yard slant pass and run on first down moved the ball to the Chisago Lakes five yard line. The Huskies went in for the touchdown two plays later. In just over three minutes of clock time, Andover had scored 22 points and led 30-8 with 9:37 left in the second quarter.
The second key play came on the ensuing Wildcat drive. On second and one from their own 44, Trost kept the ball and headed around right end. As he stepped out of bounds, he was hit hard in the head by an Andover player. No penalty was called, but a groggy Trost had to leave the game. He was evaluated for a concussion and was not allowed to return to the field for the rest of the game. The Wildcats were forced to punt a few plays later. Dalton Wood’s interception ended the ensuing Andover drive after 14 plays, but the Huskies stopped the Wildcats on downs and got the ball back on their own 47 with 1:15 left in the first half. They scored four plays later and led 38-8 at the half.
Both the Wildcats and the Huskies scored two touchdowns in the second half. With just under four minutes left in the third quarter, the Wildcats faced first and ten at the Andover 46. Running back Matt Mohr took a pitch left and sped around end, streaking down the sideline before being knocked out of bounds at the Husky ten. Mohr took a pitch to the right on the next play and waltzed into the end zone untouched. After running back Chase Hemme took a pitch to the left and went into the end zone for two, the Wildcats trailed 38-16.
Andover scored two minutes later to make the score 44-18. The Wildcats got the ball back late in the quarter. On the last play of the quarter, facing second and three from their own 29, quarterback Mitch Barrett hit Hemme with a slant pass and Hemme turned it into 38 yard catch and run that got the ball to the Husky 33. Four plays later, Mohr took a handoff to the right, went through a nice hole and ran toward the front right corner of the end zone. He reached out with the ball to hit the pylon before he was pushed out of bounds for a touchdown. Rosario went up the middle for two and the Wildcats trailed 44-24 with most of the fourth quarter left. But a long drive by the Huskies culminating in a touchdown ate up most of the rest of the quarter, giving Andover a 50-24 win and ending the Wildcats’ season.
Two players combined for most of the 515 yards of offense piled up by the Huskies. Quarterback Conner Knoepfle completed 16 of 23 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Workhorse running back Carson Syke carried the ball 34 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Mohr led the Wildcats with ten carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns and Trost had three carries for 88 yards and a touchdown in his brief time in the game.
“Henry is a difference-maker,” said Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss. “Every time he touches the ball he has the potential to score. It takes a big part of our offense away when he’s out. We still had the ability to move the ball, but it wasn’t as quick-striking as it was when Henry was in there.”
Weiss talked about the season, some of his players and some reason for optimism going into the future. He said “Despite how our season went from a win-loss perspective, the seniors set the tone all year long. We have a strong group of kids who played hard week-in and week-out against arguably some of the best Class 5A teams in the state. Evan Ginter did a lot of nice things for us. Manny Rosario emerged at fullback. Beau Stiller missed the first half of the season with injuries and played solid at linebacker when he came back. Sophomore Owen Dresel had a very solid season. It’s impressive for someone to step up and play at this level as a sophomore. Almost the whole starting offensive line - Dawson Morrison, Cole Eisfelder, James Degginger and Kevin Connery – will return next season. They will have a solid base to build on with a whole season of experience under their belts. Our senior skill positions were excellent this year and will be difficult to replace. But we’ve got a few things left in the cupboard. We had some guys who emerged this year that were nice surprises and some who we hoped would emerge did. We will miss this group of seniors, but we have reasons to look forward to next year, too.”
Football Notes Trost broke two school records this season, rushing for 1.599 yard and scoring 19 touchdowns.
Two inches of snow from the previous night had not been cleared off of the field before the game started. The Andover coaching staff blamed it on school district bureaucracy. “we weren’t happy about it,” said Weiss. “But neither were the Andover coaches. And both teams had to deal with it, so we just went ahead and played.”