September 29, 2011 at 9:07 a.m.
The Wildcat game against Columbia Heights was an offensive coach's dream. Wildcat sophomore Josh Parks rushed for 215 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries. Three Wildcat quarterbacks threw touchdown passes. The Wildcats and Hylanders each had three touchdowns of 50 yards or more. The teams combined for 90 points. And when it was all over, the Wildcats had improved their record to 2-2 with a 62-28 win over the Hylanders in a game that took place last Friday, September 23 at Columbia Heights.
The Wildcats scored early and often and had a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter. Columbia Heights had two long touchdown passes and a kickoff return for a touchdown and trailed 48-22 at the half. But the Wildcat defense stiffened after halftime and the Wildcats built a 62-22 lead. A late touchdown by the Hylanders made the final score 62-28.
After the Wildcats forced the Hylanders into three and out on the game's opening drive, it didn't take long for them to get on the scoreboard. On second down from the Wildcat 39, Parks took a handoff, ran right, hurdled a tackler and outran the Columbia Heights defense all the way to the end zone. Dan Sargeant's extra point made it 7-0. After another three and out by the Hylanders, the Wildcats took over at the Hylander 44 yard line. On the first play of the drive, quarterback Brandon Mariakis dropped back and hit Trevor Thurnbeck in stride near the right hashmark about 20 yards downfield. Thurnbeck did the rest, beating a Columbia Heights pursuer to the corner flag and the Wildcats led 14-0 just over five minutes and three Wildcat offensive plays into the game.
The Wildcats next drive was highlighted by a 36 yard run by Mariakis. A 22 yard run by Parks with a couple of shake-and-bake moves gave the Wildcats a first down at the five. Mariakis went up the middle to score standing up. Junior Hunter Lindstrom successfully converted his first extra point attempt of the year, and the Wildcats led 21-0.
Bradee Thompson replaced Mariakis at quarterback at the beginning of the second quarter and the team didn't miss a beat. Thompson's 25 yard run gave the Wildcats a first down on the Hylander 32 yard line. On second down, Thompson hit Thurnbeck with a 30 yard touchdown pass and the Wildcats led 28-0. The Hylanders responded less than two minutes later with a 52 yard touchdown pass and, after a two point conversion, cut the Wildcat lead to 28-8. But Parks struck again. After the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats started on their own 33 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Parks took the handoff, ran right, broke a tackle, cut to the left and ran down the middle of the field for a 67 yard touchdown. Less than 30 seconds after Columbia Heights had scored, the Wildcats answered and led 35-8. The Highlanders responded with a 60 yard touchdown pass on their next play from scrimmage and cut the lead to 35-14. The teams had combined to score 28 points in two and a half minutes.
The Wildcats slowed it down a little - it took them three and a half minutes to score on their next possession. The highlight of the drive was a 21 yard run by Kaleb Paehlke on third and 12 that gave the Wildcats a first down on the Columbia Heights 11 yard line. On second down from the 11, Parks took the handoff from Thompson, ran toward the left end, broke a tackle at the five and dove inside the flag for a touchdown to make the score 42-14. But the Hylanders returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. They converted the two-pointer to cut the Wildcat lead to 42-22.
Jake Sandgren replaced Thompson at quarterback, becoming the third Wildcat quarterback to appear in the first half. And he picked up where the other two had left off, leading a 65 yard, 5 play drive. Louis Critelli had consecutive runs of 18 and 16yards to give the Wildcats a first down at the Hylander 14. Sandgren hit Danny Kimlinger with a 14 yard touchdown pass. The extra point attempt sailed wide and the Wildcats led 48-22 going into halftime. The teams had combined for 49 points in the second quarter alone.
The Wildcat offensive starters returned to the field for the first drive of the second half. On third and nine from the Columbia Heights 49 yard line, Parks broke a tackle and sped downfield till he was knocked out of bounds at the eight yard line. On third down from the one, Mariakis went up the middle for a touchdown and the Wildcats led 55-22. Sandgren came back in late in the third quarter and led the Wildcats on their only sustained scoring drive of the day. The 11 play drive took six minutes off the clock. Sandgren took it into the end zone himself from the three. The Hylanders added a late touchdown to make the final score Chisago Lakes 62, Columbia Heights 28.
The Wildcats rushed for 516 yards. They completed four passes, three of them for touchdowns, for 109 yards. The Wildcat defense held the Hylanders to just 65 yards on the ground. The Hylanders completed ten passes for 246 yards, but were held to just two completions for 55 yards in the second half.
The Wildcats seemed to be in control the whole game, but Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss has a lot of respect for his opponents. "They're a well-coached team," said Weiss. "They struggle with numbers of players, but the coaches are an experienced group who know what they're doing. They took advantage of some opportunities and scored twice on the same type of passing play in the first half. We did our job and shut them down in the second half. For the whole game,
both our offensive and defensive lines controlled the line effectively and just got it done up front."
Josh Parks averaged over 30 yards per carry for the evening. "This was a breakout game for Josh," said Weiss. "He has excellent speed and vision and we're excited to see him get the opportunity to show what he can do.
It's pretty likely that the Wildcats had never had three quarterbacks throw touchdown passes in the same game, much less in the first half. Weiss said "We felt all along that we have pretty good talent at that position and took advantage of the opportunity to play all three of our upperclassmen. All three of them are effective quarterbacks and they proved that Friday night.
Hunter Lindstrom had been handling some of the Wildcat kickoff duties this season and got the chance to try some extra points. He finished the game six for seven and showed a strong leg. Weiss said "For a specialty position like kicker, it's nice to have two players like Hunter and Dan Sargeant. It was a good opportunity to get Hunter some reps in a game and he did very well. Both he and Dan have decent legs and I'm confident that we can convert a field goal if we need to."
The Wildcats return home tomorrow night to take on Totino Grace at 7 p.m. at Chisago Lakes High School. Weiss said his team "looks forward to the challenge. Playing a team like Totino will give us a measure of just how good we are."