November 6, 2003 at 9:49 a.m.
Chisago Lakes 13
Everyone knew they were good, just not that good.
Last Friday, the Totino-Grace Eagles showed why they were ranked number one in the state in class 4A by ripping the Chisago Lakes Wildcats, 47-13 in the section 4-4A championship game. Besides for the first 10 minutes of the game, it wasn’t even close.
“I don’t want to say we were surprised with what happened,” said Bill Weiss, Chisago Lakes football head coach. “You see them on tape and I knew they were good. It was apparent to us right from the beginning that these guys were even better then what they showed on film. Not only in talent, but their execution, balance, and response when it came to making us pay for our mistakes was second to none.”
Talent, execution, and mistakes sums the game up quite nicely.
Early in the first quarter, the game wasn’t so one-sided. The Wildcats grabbed the opening kick-off, and on the fourth play of their opening drive, got a 55 yard touchdown run from Danny Reed to pull in front. Reed spun through several tacklers on his way to the end zone, giving the ‘Cats the start they were looking for.
“We were pretty excited,” commented Weiss. “Every time we have the ball, we expect to score, but to score that fast was impressive. That just added to the confidence we felt going into the game.”
Evidentally, it also put the Eagles on notice. Totino-Grace marched the ensuing kick-off down the field with long runs of their own, eventually tying the game on a 15 yard touchdown run by Charles Quigley. There was plenty more to come.
On the Wildcats next drive, the game took a drastic turn for the better if you were an Eagle fan. For Wildcat fans, it marked the beginning of the end. On second down and 12, Thomas Moody threw a strike to Todd Froberg at mid-field, but while the senior was being tackled, the Eagles wrestled the ball away. The play was ruled an interception, giving Totino the ball at the 50 yard line.
It took two plays for the Eagles to make Chisago pay. Set up by a 43 yard pass play to the Wildcat seven, the Eagles ran the ball in on the very next play, giving them a 14-7 lead. The drive took under a minute off the clock spanning 50 yards.
Still leading 14-7 in the second quarter, another ‘Cat error widen the deficit. Punting from inside their own 20, punter Devin Swanberg couldn’t handle the bad snap, allowing Totino to recover the fumble at the Chisago nine yard line. Again, two plays later, the Eagles increased their lead, this time to 14, 21-7, thanks to a five yard touchdown run.
“Championship teams will take advantage of their opportunities. We couldn’t afford to make those type of mistakes and we did,” remarked Weiss. “Totino is going to make you pay. You have to give them credit, they did what they had to do to win.”
It was simple, Chisago Lakes had to answer. Helped out by their defense after a recovered fumble, the offense went back to work, only to have the drive stalled again. The Wildcats finished with just 20 yard in offense in the second quarter, not nearly enough to mount a comeback.
“Anytime you’re down by 14 points in any game, you’re definitely in a battle,” commented Weiss. “That night against that team, 14 points was quite a deficit. Their defense was very disciplined. They stayed at home and shut down our running game. Again, you have to give them credit.”
Totino made the score 27-7 before the half on another touchdown run, this time from 28 yards away, giving the Wildcats plenty to think about heading into the break. If a comeback was in the cards, it had to be dealt....and quick.
“During halftime, we looked at a combination of things. These guys (Totino) were very skilled and very disciplined,” said Weiss. “They were able to shut us down, so we knew going in that we were going to have to do some different things on offense to mix it up. They were just a really tough team to run against.”
The Wildcats charged out of the locker room with a new sense of purpose. A new attitude, game-plan, mission. One problem, Totino received the ball to start the second half and they were about to put the game out of reach, permanently.
The goal for the Eagles wasn’t necessarily to score, but instead, to run time off the clock. They did both, mounting an 80 yard, 13 play drive to the end zone, capping off the marathon with a seven yard touchdown scamper, taking a 34-7 lead. How long was the drive? It was the Eagles only drive throughout the entire third quarter.
“You can make your adjustments but they were simply executing,” remarked Weiss. “It’s such a disciplined team. They are so well adjusted. You don’t have a chance to go back and do it differently. On that night, they were definitely the better team and they proved that.”
They continued to prove it in the fourth quarter, adding two more touchdowns, jumping in front 47-7 before the Wildcats scored late on a Moody 37 yard touchdown pass to Karl Kaiser. It was way too little and definitely too late.
The final score, Totino-Grace 47, Chisago Lakes 13.
“I told the guys after the game how proud I was,” said Weiss. “They played with a lot of heart and spirit. I pointed out that they are all outstanding men and we (the coaches) were very proud of them. Five years ago, being in the section final, we probably would’ve been happy just being there. These expectations are changing and it takes guys like the one’s on the team to change that. They have really built a strong tradition that they can be proud of. No matter where the go from here or what they do, they will always be apart of Chisago Lakes football.”
Individually, Danny Reed finished his high school football career with 117 yards rushing and one touchdown to lead the ‘Cats on the ground. Meanwhile through the air, Moody threw for 121 yards and a score. All five of his completions were to different receivers.
The Wildcats finish the 2003 season with an overall record of 9-2. All-Conference awards are expected to be announced within the next few weeks. You can bet, the ‘Cats will be well represented.
Chisago Lakes 13
1 2 3 4 F
Chisago Lakes 7 0 0 6 13
Totino-Grace 14 13 7 13 47
CL- Reed 55 yrd. TD run
(Kick good) 7-0
TG- 15 yrd. TD run
(Kick good) 7-7
TG- 7 yrd. TD run
(Kick good) 7-14
TG- 5 yrd. TD run
(Kick good) 7-21
TG- 28 yrd. TD run
(Kick failed) 7-27
TG- 7 yrd. TD run
(Kick good) 7-34
TG- 3 yrd. TD run
(Kick good) 7-41
TG- 39 yrd. TD run
(Kick failed) 7-47
CL- Kaiser 37 yrd. TD rec.
(Kick good) 14-47
Chisago Lakes statistics
Moody- 5-16, 121 yrds., TD
Reed- 11 rush, 117 yrds., TD
Froberg- 9 rush, 29 yrds.
James- 7 rush, 21 yrds.
Moody- 12 rush. -2 yrds.
Nelson- 1 rec., 48 yrds.
Kaiser- 1 rec., 37 yrds., TD
Burgin- 1 rec., 16 yrds.
James- 1 rec., 12 yrds.
Froberg- 1 rec., 8 yrds.
Chisago Lakes- 288 yards
(167 rush, 121 pass)
Totino-Grace- 409 yards
(363 rush, 46 pass)