|9/19/2019 3:33:00 PM|
Chisago Lakes can't stop Bison offensive stampede
by CHUCK FITZER
The Wildcat football team had executed its game plan while facing the prolific offense of the Buffalo Bison and, despite numerous turnovers and critical penalties, found itself in position to win the game late in the fourth quarter last Friday night. With the Wildcats trailing 26-20, an electrifying 52-yard run by fullback Sailor Olson gave the Wildcats a first down on the Bison 10-yard line with just over two minutes to go in the game. The Wildcats were poised to take the lead and leave little or no time for the Bison to come back. But Olson fumbled on the next play, and the Bison recovered and ran out the clock for a 26-20 win. The Wildcat players and the large crowd of fans at Chisago Lakes High School went home disappointed. And it may not be much consolation after a tough loss, but the crowd did get to see a great high school football game.
Buffalo senior quarterback Aidan Bouman, son of Buffalo head coach and former Minnesota Viking quarterback Todd Bouman, is a prolific passer and three-year starter for the Bison. He is headed to Iowa State University on a football scholarship next season. The Wildcat game plan was not to stop Bouman, but to slow him down. Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss said “We talked about being patient on defense. We knew Bouman was going to be a quarterback who would make his throws. But we wanted to make him march down the field and earn it. When we played Buffalo last year, they had a lot of three and four play drives. This year, the objective was to force them to have multiple play drives. So, we didn’t defend the shorter passes real hard – we wanted to stop the deep completions. We were able to execute that at times during the game. Last year, we didn’t stop them on any drives. This year, we had a takeaway, made them turn it over on downs a few times and forced a couple of punts. We gave ourselves a chance to win.”
The Bison started the game’s opening drive at their own 33-yard line. They passed the ball down the field and, on the seventh play of the drive, faced second and ten at the Wildcat 12-yard line. Bouman took the shotgun snap, dropped back and fired a pass into the back of the end zone near the righthand goal post – right into the arms of a wide-open Ryan Sanvik. Unfortunately for the Bison, Sanvik is a Wildcat defensive back, and his interception stopped the drive cold.
After the teams exchanged punts, the Wildcats took over at their own four-yard line. The word “epic” can be overused, but it’s appropriate here – the Wildcats went on an epic 17-play scoring drive that took eight minutes off the clock. On third and three from the Wildcat eleven, running back Tommy Dubbs went up the middle through a nice hole and broke loose for a 36-yard run and a first down at the Wildcat 47. The Wildcats plowed their way down the field on runs by Olson, running back David Kimlinger and quarterback Austin Siefert. On fourth and goal from the four, and lacking a real kicking game, the Wildcats decided to go for it. Siefert dropped back to pass and zipped the ball to the right side, slightly behind Kimlinger. Kimlinger turned back to his right to make the catch, spun left and ran into the front right corner of the end zone to put the Wildcats up 6-0 with 8:41 left in the second quarter. The extra point try was no good.
The Bison responded with a two-minute, eight play scoring drive and, after doinking the extra-point attempt off the left upright, the score was tied 6-6. Wildcat Nick Stone caught the ensuing kickoff at his own five-yard line. He ran through a huge lane up the middle, cut left to avoid the last potential tackler – the kicker – at the 30 and was gone, running 95 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately, Stone was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, giving the Wildcats a 35-yard extra point attempt – which sailed wide left. But the Wildcats led 12-6.
The Bison again responded with a scoring drive of their own, with Bouman completing a 41-yard pass to Michael Tweten for the touchdown. But the hold was bobbled, and the extra point was no good, so the score stayed tied at 12-12 with 4:49 left in the half. On the Wildcats’ next drive, they faced second and seven from their own 37. The ball was snapped, and a Buffalo player knifed through and knocked the ball out of Siefert’s hands, recovering it at the 31. Three plays later, Bouman threw what should have been a touchdown pass, but the receiver dropped it in the end zone. After fourth-down incompletion, the Wildcats took over at their own 21. On the next play, Siefert attempted just the second pass of the game for the Wildcats. Unfortunately, it went through the hands of the intended receiver and was intercepted and returned to the 13-yard line. This time, the Bison didn’t waste the gift given to them by the Wildcats. On fourth and three from the six-yard line, Bouman hit receiver Tweten with a touchdown pass for the third time in the game, and the Bison – after a failed two-point conversion attempt – went into halftime with an 18-12 lead.
Wildcat Zach Mueller returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the Wildcat 43. The Wildcats went on an 11-play drive, highlighted by a 20-yard run by Kimlinger. On first and goal from the 10, Kimlinger took a pitch left and nearly scored, getting knocked out at the one. The Wildcats made it hard on themselves after that. After two penalties and a bad pitch – recovered by the Wildcats – they faced fourth and goal at the 15.
Siefert took a short dropback and fired a pass left to Dubbs at the ten. Dubbs ran untouched to the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game 18-18 with 6:32 left in the third quarter. On the two-point conversion attempt, Siefert connected with a wide-open Mueller in the end zone- the first successful conversion attempt for either team – and the Wildcats led 20-18. But the Bison responded with another two-minute scoring drive. Bouman connected with Trevor Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown pass and the Bison converted a two pointer for a 26-20 lead.
The Wildcats were forced to punt on their next drive. They forced the Bison to turn it over on downs, and the Bison returned the favor with 5:50 left in the game. The ensuing Bison drive stalled at their own 45 and Bouman’s punt rolled out of bounds at the Wildcat 29 with 2:50 remaining. Kaleb Bruce took a pitch and ran ten yards on first down. On the next play, Olson took a handoff up the middle, broke two sets of tackles, cut right and ran downfield all the way to the ten-yard line before being tackled. On the next play, he took a handoff up the middle. The ball was stripped, the Bison recovered, and the Wildcats fell just short of a big win.
Weiss said, “It was unfortunate. Because of the mistakes we made, I don’t know if we really played well enough to win. Penalties, turnovers – those things add up. That being said, we were in a position to win it at the end.”
“Sailor Olson certainly showed us a lot,” said Weiss. “He had Cole Peterson, a senior, playing in front of him. When Peterson got hurt, Sailor was one of several guys we were looking at. He had been playing well at the B-squad level, so we thought ‘this guy’s been going a good job. Let’s see what he can do on Friday nights.’ Owen Dresel, who is one of our leaders on defense, played well in this game. And Ryan Sanvik’s interception on the first drive was huge. But overall, we were inconsistent as a team. Going forward, we need to limit out mistakes and keep trying to get better as the season goes on. That’s all you can do.”
Bouman finished the game 30 for 46 passing for 350 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Yet the Wildcat defense kept the Bison off the scoreboard in the first quarter and after the first Bison drive of the second half. Bison receiver Tweten had 13 catches for 170 yards and Johnson caught 10 balls for 112 yards. For the Wildcats, Olson was the workhorse. He ran the ball 20 times for 129 yards. Kimlinger carried the ball nine times for 68 yards. Siefert was three for five passing for 20 yards, an interception and – most importantly – two touchdowns.
The Wildcats (1-2) will take on the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets (1-2) tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Cambridge-Isanti High School. Hopefully, Bambi and his friends will stay off Highway 95. Weiss said, “Cambridge graduated some talented players off their state tournament team last year, so they are doing things differently on offense. Since they are passing more than they have in other years, we will need to be more balanced in our approach to defend against them. Their defense has the same look. We always have good games with them, and there’s no reason to expect anything different this year.”