November 3, 2023 at 11:52 a.m.
Chisago Lakes blows out Simley to advance to finals
All three facets of the Wildcats come up with big plays in 31-7 revenge romp over Spartans
Last season, the Simley Spartans crushed the Wildcats 46-14 in the opening round of the state tournament. With both teams in Section 3AAAA this season, the Wildcats turned it around on the Spartans, beating them 31-7 in the section semifinal game. The win sends the Wildcats to tomorrow night’s section final against the top-seeded Hill Murray Pioneers at 7 p.m. at Hill Murray High School.
After forcing a punt on the Spartan’s’ opening drive, the Wildcats found themselves in oh-too-familiar territory, losing a fumble on the Spartan 34. Simley went on an 11-play drive, capped off by an 11-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Christian Urbina to Andre Levros to give the Spartans an early 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, returner Carson Langevin attempted to field the ball near the left sideline at the four-yard line, but the ball bounced out of bounds and the Wildcats were forced to start deep in their own territory. A 16-yard run by Jadon Greene and two 13-yard runs by Langevin moved the ball out near midfield. On third and 14 from the Wildcat 48, quarterback Gavin Lewis hit Langevin over the middle for 15 yards and a first down to keep the drive alive. The Wildcats continued to push upfield. On second and two from the 14, Langevin took a pitch left. Excellent blocking completely sealed the edge and Langevin scored untouched. Owen Morley’s extra point was good, and the game was tied 7-7 with 9:30 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Simley faced third and six from their own 44. Urbina’s pass over the middle was knocked away by linebacker Matthew Schlender, forcing the Spartans into a punting situation.
The snap went way over the head of the Simley punter, who fell on it at his own 23, where the Wildcats took over. On fourth and one from the 14, fullback Evan LaValle picked up six yards to give the Wildcats first and goal from the eight. On fourth and goal from the two, Lewis handed it to – who else? – LaValle, who plowed into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead with 2:02 left in the first half.
On the ensuing Simley drive, the Spartans faced second down from their own 30. Urbina threw a pass over the middle but never saw Schlender, who stepped in front of the receiver to pick it off at the Simley 40 and returned it to the 26, with 1:23 left in the half. On first down, Lewis rolled left and hit Green for 11 yards. On fourth and one from the six, with 26 seconds left, LaValle converted his third fourth down of the game, pick up four yards to give the Wildcats first and goal at the two. Lewis spiked the ball to stop the clock with 16 seconds left, allowing the Wildcats to preserve their final time out. LaValle was stuffed for no gain on the next play and the Wildcats called their final timeout with 0.5 seconds left. Owen Morley trotted onto the field and calmly booted a 20 yard field goal to increase the Wildcat lead to 17-7 at the half.
The Wildcats received the opening kickoff of the second half and started at their own 30. A rare pitch to LaValle picked up 24 yards. Even more rare, LaValle fumbled on the next play and the Spartans took over near midfield. After picking up one first down, Simley faced second and eight from the Wildcats 37. A sack by Riley Estes moved the ball back to the 43. Urbina was injured and came out after the play and was replaced by senior Connor Binley. The first snap to Binley went off his hands, and he fell on it at his own 45. After the punt, the Wildcats took over at their own 18. On the first play, Langevin took a pitch left, after a short gain he was near the sideline, appearing ready to step out of bonds. But he planted his foot hard to stay in bounds and ran for 29 yards. Unfortunately, the Wildcat drive stalled. The teams exchanged punts and the Wildcats took over at the Simley 49.
Two runs by LaValle gave the Wildcats a first down at the Simley 38, and an 18-yard run on a pitch left to Langevin moved the ball to the 20. On third and goal from the five, Lewis pitched right to Greene, who waltzed in the end zone for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead with 9:07 left in the game. On the ensuing Simley drive, they went for it on fourth and three from the 42. Binley was stuffed a yard short of a first down, giving the Wildcats the ball. A few plays later, Langevin scored his second touchdown of the game on a nine-yard run to make it 31-7. Kellen Meissner picked off a desperation heave by Binley with 30 seconds left in the game, and the Wildcats were headed for the Section 3AAAA championship game.
“The boys played well again,” said Wildcat head coach Ryan Anderson. “We have really been stressing complementary football. When the offense turned the ball over, the defense went out on the field and got the ball right back. That puts us in a good position. The defense has really improved in the last six weeks. Matthew Schlender, who replaced Reed Bleymeyer after Bleymeyer got injured, stepped up in a big way for us. We tell the players that when you get the opportunity, be ready to show us what you’ve got and help the team out. And he certainly did that.
“On offense, Langevin had 114 yards and LaValle picked up a quiet 105 yards. And on defense, Riley Estes had a nice game, picking up two more sacks. Logan Bender did some really nice things at linebacker, the types of thigs that don’t always show up in the stats but make it easier for other players to do their jobs.”