October 19, 2006 at 7:45 a.m.
An 18 yard return by Brandon Mueller on the opening kickoff put the ball on the Wildcat 35. On second-and-eight, Mueller ran right for a 23 yard gain. Two plays later, Brian Jennissen had the first of his long runs, racing 35 yards to the Saints’ three yard line. Fullback Jake Spehar plowed in from the three, and after a Christian Swanberg extra point, the Wildcats were up 7-0 with less than two minutes gone in the first quarter.
The Saints went three and out on their first drive. On the ensuing punt, the Wildcats fumbled and the Saints recovered on the Wildcat 38. But, once again, they failed to move the ball. The Wildcats managed to hang on to the next Saints punt, and took over on their own 25 yard line. The Wildcats then went on a 14-play drive that ate up the rest of the quarter. Spehar carried the ball six out of the first seven plays, getting three first downs for the Wildcats. A 21 yard end around by wide receiver Rob Wilson put the ball on the Saints 15 yard line. Jon Lien ran for 14 yards on first down to put the ball at the one. On the first play of the second quarter, Lien scampered into the end zone to put the Wildcats up 14-0.
The Saints then went on a long drive of their own, going 79 yards in 13 plays to make the score 14-7 Wildcats. But the momentum swung back to the Wildcats when Lien took the ensuing kickoff at his own 16 yard line, burst through the middle and was finally brought down after a 39 yard return that put the ball at the St. Francis 45. The Wildcats’ next drive was highlighted by two 11 yard runs by Spehar. Lien again went over from the one, and the Wildcats led 21-7.
The Saints went three-and-out on their next possession, and, after a punt the Wildcats took over at their own 28 with just under two minutes left in the half. On second and ten, Jennissen kept the ball on the option and ran through a gaping hole towards the left sideline. After 20 yards, it looked like he’d get shoved out of bounds. But Jennissen cut to his right, ran laterally across the field, turned the corner and ran the remaining 50 yards into the end zone to put the Wildcats up 28-7. It was Jennissen’s second touchdown of 70 yards or more in the past two games. Defensive back Andy Willhite intercepted a Saint pass on the last play of the half, and the Wildcats led by 21 at halftime.
The Saints started the third quarter at their own 25 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, they burned the Wildcats for a 60-yard run down to the Wildcats 15 yard line. Kevin Daudt went in on second-and-goal from the five. The Saints missed the extra point, making the score 28-13. The Wildcats fumbled in their next possession, but again stopped the Saints three and out and took over on the Saints 40 after a punt. On second and eight from the 38, Jennissen again called his own number on the option left, cut to the left sideline and ran 38 yards untouched to put the Wildcats up 35-13.
A bizarre play on the Saints’ next possession kept them in the game. On second and two from their own 27, they faded back to pass. Wildcat defensive end Dan Kaiser stripped the ball from Saints quarterback Alec Kosloski, and the ball bounced several yards behind Kosloski. As the Wildcats converged on the ball, Daudt scooped it up, ran to his left, turned the corner and outran the Wildcat defense 73 yards for a Saint touchdown. The Saints missed a two point conversion, making the score 35-19.
The Wildcats didn’t officially put this one away until the very end. They went on a short 30 yard drive capped off by a seven-yard touchdown run by Mike Rosenthal with less than two minutes to go in the game. Willhite intercepted another pass on the Saint’s next possession, and the Wildcats ran out the clock, emerging with a 42-19 victory.
The Wildcats had another impressive game on the ground, racking up 371 yards rushing. Jennissen had over 100 yards for the third game in a row, tallying 151 yards on nine carries. Spehar carried 16 times for 91 hard-earned yards. And the Wildcats didn’t punt all day. They turned the ball over on downs once, and the only other thing that stopped their drives were three fumbles and an interception.
“We had way too many turnovers,” said Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss. “The silver lining is that the turnovers happened when we were in control. We can’t afford to do that as we go into the playoffs. We won’t have that much of a margin for error.
“Jennissen has really been explosive the last couple of games. He’s fun to watch. Adam Gemuenden played a solid game again at linebacker. He’s got a great combination of skills. He can make plays inside, and he’s fast enough to chase players outside, as well. Any team would like to have a player with Adam’s ability. LT Wright had a very good game. In addition to his sack, he really plugged up the inside for us. Defensive linemen Tony Gall and Jeff McKinnon also had good games. The Saints’ center is their best offensive lineman and our two guys consistently played well against him all night.
“One disappointment that came out of the game was Josh Soderlund’s injury. Josh broke his ankle and is out for the year. In addition to being a very good player, Josh is a great leader for us. He’ll still be able to lead from the sidelines, but we’ll miss his presence on the field.
“St. Francis’ quarterback, Kosloski, and top running back, Daudt, had good years last year as juniors. Their offense hadn’t been clicking much this year, but they came out and ran some different stuff at us tonight. The long run they had when they recovered their own fumble really showed some athleticism.
“We had some high expectations and big goals coming into the season. This is a fun group of kids to work with. We’ve got great coaches and very supportive and enthusiastic fans – the whole package. We’re looking forward to doing well in our final regular season game before we head into the playoffs.”
The Wildcats (5-2 overall, 5-1 conference) scheduled to host the Irondale Knights (3-4 overall, 3-4 conference) Wednesday, October 18 at Molnar Field at Chisago Lakes High School. The game is being played Wednesday instead of Friday due to Education Minnesota (MEA) Weekend.
“Even though Irondale is only 3-4, they beat Benilde and lost just 10-7 to Spring Lake Park. They have an aggressive defense, so we’ll need to be patient on offense and look for our opportunities and take advantage of them.”
After the Irondale game, section playoffs will begin October 24. Though seedings will not be completed until after this issue goes to press, it looks like the Wildcats will get a home playoff game.