9/5/2019 2:15:00 PM Wildcats clobber Sartell 38-6 in season opener
Senior fullback Cole Peterson rushed 12 times for 123 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcat football team rolled over the Sartell-St. Stephen Sabres 38-8 in front of the home crowd at Chisago Lakes High School in the season opener last Friday, August 30. The Wildcats seemingly scored at will on offense and the defense shut down the Sabres until a touchdown late in the game when the outcome had long ago been decided.
After the Wildcats forced the Sabres into a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, the Wildcats took over at their own 33-yard line and drove quickly downfield. On third and seven from the 18, junior quarterback Austin Siefert handed the ball off to senior running back Tommy Dubbs on a misdirection play, and Dubbs burst up the middle untouched into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. The extra point attempt clanked off the left upright and was no good.
The Sabres’ next drive was pretty impressive. Starting at their own 18-yard line, they put together a drive of 18 plays and took nearly eight minutes off the clock. On fourth and seven from the Wildcat 14, Sabre quarterback Cole Hentges overthrew is target and the Wildcats took over on downs. The Wildcats marched down the field in 12 plays. Peterson plowed into the end zone from the five and, after Ryan Sanvik’s extra point attempt hit the left upright and went over the crossbar, the Wildcats led 13-0.
Very late in the half, the Wildcats forced the Sabres to punt from the Sabre 34-yard line. Sophomore Nick Wasko fielded the punt at the Wildcat 31-yard line and ran 35 yards to the Sartell 36-yard line. 35.5 seconds remained in the half. On fourth and one from the 27, senior Kaleb Bruce plowed up the middle for four yards and a first down. After a timeout, 11.3 seconds remained in the first half. On the next play, Peterson took the handoff and ran around left end, with some excellent blocking leading the way. He crossed the goal line with 2.9 seconds to go in the half and the Wildcats led 19-0 at the break.
Any thoughts of a Sartell comeback were crushed in the first minute of the second half. On the first play of the half, from the Wildcat 35, Siefert hit senior Zach Mueller with a pass to the right at midfield and Mueller ran the ball down to the Sartell 36. On the next play, the offensive line opened up a giant hole the middle and Peterson was barely touched as he raced to the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, just 32 seconds into the second half. The two-point attempt failed, and the Wildcats led 25-0. Two more Wildcat running backs got in on the fun. Senior Nick Stone scored from three yards out and senior Tim Gregory scored on a pitch right from seven yards out, and the Wildcats led 38-0 before the end of the third quarter. Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss called off the dogs – or, actually, the cats – at that point, subbing freely on both sides of the ball. Sartell’s lone offensive highlight came late in the game when quarterback Andrew Ambrosier, from his own 15-yard line, passed to wide receiver Gustav Gunderson. Gunderson was off to the races for an 85-yard touchdown to make the final score Chisago Lakes 38, Sartell-St. Stephen 8.
While accurate stats were not available, it looks like Siefert ran for nearly 100 yards on less than ten carries for the Wildcats. And Wasko, patrolling the middle of the defensive backfield, had seemingly a dozen tackles, including at least a couple where he ran all the way across the field to catch someone from behind and stop a big play. Weiss said “Nick played very well for his first game. By the nature of his position and the quality of the supporting cast around him, he had the opportunity to make some plays. And he took advantage of it. We are excited for him, especially as a young guy. He played a little more seasoned than you would think for his first varsity game. He is a multisport athlete and I think he had some opportunities to do some things in other sports that help him in football.
“Cole Peterson did a lot of hard work in the offseason and will do a lot of nice things for us this year. Based on his offseason hard work, I was not surprised by his performance in this game. And we should give credit to our offensive line, which has a lot of new guys. Gabe Nordby started most of the games last year and Thomas Sargeant started at the end of last year. Carson Minnichsoffer, Braedon Carr and Conner Wheeler are all new faces, and the last two are sophomores. Offensive linemen are often overlooked. They have to work together well to succeed and, for their first time together in a game, these guys played pretty well Austin played some at quarterback at the end of last year and was effective. He has some confidence knowing what he is capable of. We are pretty excited to see what he can do this season.”
The Wildcats converted just two of six conversion opportunities. They were two for four on extra point attempts and zero for two on two-point attempts. In a blowout like this one it won’t affect the outcome, but it could be a big deal in a close game. Weiss said “Kicking is a work in progress right now. The snap, the hold and the protection are hard to simulate in practice. It’s one of the areas we have to work on as we move through this week of practice and the rest of the season.”
Football Notes The Wildcats (1-0) take on the St. Francis Fighting Saints (0-1) tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at St. Francis. The Saints lost to St. Cloud Apollo 31-24 in their opener and all of Apollo’s touchdowns cam on plays of 75 yards or longer. Weiss said “St. Francis lost a tough one in their opener. It’ shard to know how you’ll match up with them after just one game or based on last year. But they are always very competitive and well-coached, and we expect a tough game.”