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home : sports : sports
November 30, 2021

10/22/2021 2:25:00 PM
Brutal schedule for 'Cats football continues with a big loss to Willmar

Willmar 42, Chisago Lakes 6
Willmar quarterback Alex Schramm ran for four touchdowns and threw for another as the seventh-ranked Willmar Cardinals beat the Wildcats 42-6 last Friday, October 15 at Hodapp Filed at Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar.

The Wildcats kept the game within two scores until late in the third quarter.  But they muffed a punt at their own 25 and Willmar recovered.  The Cardinals scored a few plays later to stretch their lead to 28-6 and went on to add two more touchdowns before the final horn.

On the opening possession, the Cardinals needed just three plays, including a 52-yard run by Dylan Staska, to set up a first and goal at the Wildcat ten-yard line.  But on third down from the ten, Willmar fumbled, and the Wildcats pounced on it.  On first down, Easton Morrison took a pitch to the right and ran 19 yards.  But two plays later, on second and six, the Wildcats fumbled, and Willmar recovered at the Wildcat 36.  Five plays later, Schramm ran it in standing up from the two and Willmar led 7-0. 

The Wildcats got one first down on the ensuing drive but were forced to punt from their own 46.  Starting from their own 25 with five minutes left in the first quarter, the Cardinals went on a ten-play drive.  Schramm ran it in from nine yards out with 11:15 left in the second quarter to double the Willmar lead to 14-0.

The Wildcats then went on an 11-play drive that ate up most of the rest of the second quarter.  The drive included three runs of ten yards or more by quarterback Nick Wasko and an eleven-yard pass over the middle from Wasko to Nate Bluhm.  On third and goal from the three, Conner Wheeler lined up as the right tailback.  Running toward the left, he took the handoff from Wasko and headed for the goal line.  A Willmar player grabbed his legs at the one, but Wheeler used his strength to dive over the goal line for a touchdown.  There was a high snap on the extra point.  Holder Blake Schmidt reached up to grab it and started to run but was tackled immediately.  The Wildcats had cut the Willmar lead to 14-6 with just under four minutes to go in the first half.  But Willmar answered.  Starting the ensuing drive from their own 40, the Cardinals needed just six plays to score.  Schramm ran it in around the right side from 15 yards out with 52.1 seconds left in the half and Willmar led 21-6.

The Wildcats moved the ball on the opening drive of the second half and were stopped on downs at the Willmar 36.  They fumbled three plays later and the Wildcats recovered at their own 46.  But the Willmar defense held, and the Wildcats were forced to punt from the Willmar 48.  Starting from their own 17, Willmar got a couple of quick first downs.  The Wildcat defense stiffened, and Willmar punted from their own 48.  The high, end over end kick came down to a Wildcat return man at the 25.  But he muffed the punt and Wilmar fell on it with two minutes left in the third quarter.  Four plays later, Schramm ran it in around the right side from seven yards out to make it 28-6.  Willmar added two more scores late in the fourth quarter, one on a pass from Schramm to Sam Raitz and another on an 80-yard run by Ramero Trevino to make the final score 42-6.

Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss said, “The game was within reach until they scored after that muffed punt.  We moved the ball on offense, but we just didn’t get it across the goal line.  All of the movement in the world doesn’t matter unless you score.  And they did some things on offense that we didn’t do a good job defending.  It was kind of a frustrating night, at times.  We are still growing as a team.  Sometimes we play very well and other times we make JV mistakes.  The bottom line is that Willmar is a very good team and executed well and we didn’t.  Our kids fought hard, but ultimately we made too many mistakes.”

Linebacker Conner Wheeler scored as part of the “Rhino” package.  Weiss explained, “Conner is a pretty athletic kid.  We had planned to use this package in goal line situations, and this is the first time we actually used it.  Conner is a big bodied back, whether carrying or blocking.  We may be able to use this package to our benefit in the playoffs.”

Seniors Wasko and fullback Ashton Pearson once again led the Wildcats in rushing.  Weiss said, “Those two are out main offensive weapons.  As seniors, they have been around for awhile and gotten some experience together.  We are going to continue to lean on them as we move forward.”

Football Notes
Because it’s MEA week and there is no school (today) Thursday and Friday, the Wildcats’ final regular season game at second-ranked Hutchinson was played last night.  Results were not yet available when this issue of the Press was printed.

Section 7AAAA playoffs begin next Tuesday.  The Wildcats were seeded sixth in the section, which means they will travel to St. Anthony Village next Tuesday at 7 p.m. for a quarterfinal game.  And despite their 2-5 regular season record, the Wildcats have a good chance to do well in the playoffs.  Weiss said, “When you play half of your regular season against top ten teams, it’s quite a challenge.  Playing and improving against teams like that should give us some momentum going into the playoffs.” 

The Wildcats are in a new section this season and didn’t play any games against section opponents in the regular season.  They are going into the unknown, but they have been toughened up.

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