October 13, 2011 at 9:51 a.m.

Chisago Lakes stuffs Fridley on the road, homecoming next

Chisago Lakes stuffs Fridley on the road, homecoming next
Chisago Lakes stuffs Fridley on the road, homecoming next

Chisago Lakes 36, Fridley 21

Trevor Thurnbeck ran 75 yards for a touchdown on the Wildcats' first play from scrimmage against Fridley and the Wildcats never looked back. They built a 19-0 lead at halftime and led 36-0 before Fridley scored three late touchdowns to make the final score Chisago Lakes 36, Fridley 21. The game was played last Friday, October 7 at Fridley High School.

The Wildcats started the opening drive from their own 25 yard line. The ball was snapped and the offense moved to the right and the Tiger defense moved with them. But the Wildcats ran a misdirection play. Thurnbeck ran left, quarterback Bradee Thompson handed him the ball and he was gone. He ran all by himself to the end zone. Dan Sargeant's kicked the extra point, and the Wildcats led 7-0 just 20 seconds into the game.

The Wildcats' second drive showcased their power running game. Starting at their own 20, they went 15 plays in seven minutes. Most of the hard work was done by fullbacks Brandon Fenner and Dan Sargeant. On first and goal from the Tiger 10 yard line, Eric Brown ran left. Blocks by Josh Parks and Thurnbeck cleared the way, and Brown scored easily. The extra point was blocked, and the Wildcats led 13-0.

"Coming out with a 75 yard touchdown on the first play that was a good statement not typical of our offense," said Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss. "And to go on that fifteen play drive was a statement, too. Other than Brown's touchdown, we didn't have a gain in double digits on that drive. We ate up a lot of clock and kept their offense on the sideline. By the time Fridley was ready to get going with their offense, we had changed the nature of the game. It pays to get control early and set the tone right from the start."

Early in the second quarter, the Tigers started a drive on their own 32 yard line and quickly moved down the field. Two plays later, they were first and ten at the Wildcat 41 yard line. But the running back fumbled a pitch to the right, and Brandon Mariakis fell on the ball at the Wildcat 45. On first down, Parks ran up the middle and then cut left to pick up 14 yards. On third and nine from the Fridley 40, Brown took the handoff, accelerated through a nice hole and left everyone in his dust as he ran 40 yards for a touchdown. The Wildcats two point attempt failed and they led 19-0. "Eric has a burst that's pretty impressive," said Weiss. "It was a simple play, and he just got the ball and exploded through there. It's dangerous!"

The Wildcats put any thoughts of a Tiger comeback at bay right after halftime. Parks forced a fumble on the kickoff return to open the second half and the Wildcats recovered at the Fridley 22 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Bradee Thompson passed to Brown on the right. Brown again raced into the end zone untouched for his third touchdown of the day. Thompson ran for the two -pointer, and the Wildcats led 27-0 just 15 seconds into the second half.

The Wildcat defense kept up the pressure, too. Fridley started the next drive from their own 20. Mariakis and Thurnbeck sacked the Tiger quarterback on the first play for a loss of ten yards. After two incomplete passes, Fridley lined up to punt. But the ball was snapped over the punter's head and out of the end zone for a safety to increase the Wildcat lead to 29-0.

Danny Kimlinger returned the ensuing punt 12 yards to the Fridley 49 yard line. After Thompson hit Brown for a 15 yard gain on first down, the Wildcats went back to the ground. Their 11 play drive took nearly six minutes. Kaleb Paehlke took it over from the one, Hunter Lindstrom kicked the extra point and the Wildcats led 36-0 midway through the third quarter.

The Wildcats continued to dominate the game offensively, defensively and on special teams. The Tigers scored three touchdowns in the last six minutes of the game, long after the outcome had been decided, and the Wildcats came way with an impressive 36-21 win.

Brown led the Wildcats in rushing with seven carries for 76 yards and two receptions for 37 yards. Thurnbeck was right behind him with 75 yards on one carry. Parks, Sargeant and Fenner each ran for about 40 yards on six or seven carries. And Quade Zupko saw his first action of the season, returning from an injury to run the ball three times for 34 yards.

Weiss said "Momentum seemed d to just kind of roll in our favor in all phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams. Louis Critelli made a big play late in the game, tackling their punt returner and forcing a fumble so we maintained possession. We shut them down the whole night. That's a solid team. They were having a tough time getting anything going early. For us to come out and take advantage of a turnover like that right after halftime was huge.

And Weiss wasn't happy about giving up 21 points late in the game, but in his mind there are more important things to worry about than a shutout. "It's a great opportunity for us to get some of the younger players some experience," he said. "We were able to evaluate some players in a competitive environment going against Fridley's first string. And for the kids who don't play too often, to get a chance to play on Friday night after all their hard work is a lot of fun. Did we want to give up a bunch of points at the end? Absolutely not. Did we learn some great things about our team? Absolutely."

It's homecoming at Chisago Lakes High School tomorrow night. The Wildcats will welcome St. Francis (5-1) to town for a 7 p.m. game. The Fighting Saints are tied with Spring Lake for first place in the North Suburban Conference. "We've always had great games with St. Francis in the past," said Weiss. They are a big physical team that will come right at us and provide us with a great physical challenge. Hosting them for our homecoming will be pretty cool."

Next Wednesday, October 19, the Wildcats will travel to St. Louis Park to take on Benilde-St. Margaret's at 7 p.m. in the regular season finale.

Trevor Thurnbeck drags down a Tiger opponent during Chisago Lakes' 36-21 win last week.

CL quarterback Bradee Thompson stiff arms a Fridley defender near the end zone last Friday. Photos by Kirsten Thompson

Wildcat running back Eric Brown uses his sprinter's speed to break away from the pack on his long touchdown run.

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