September 25, 2023 at 12:21 p.m.

Another barnburner goes CL’s way as they beat Providence 45-34



By CHUCK FITZER | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment
Sports

The unstoppable Evan LaValle rushed for over 200 yards to lead the Wildcats to a wild 45-34 win over the Providence Academy Lions Friday, September 15 in front of a crowd of over 1,000 raucous Wildcat fans at Chisago Lakes High School.  Lions’ quarterback Magnus Hansen kept his team in the game with his arm, completing 25 of 37 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown.

The Wildcats took the game’s opening kickoff and blew down the field, needing just over two minutes to score.  Quarterback Gavin Lewis finished off the quick drive with a 30-yard run and, after Brycen Morley’s extra point, the Wildcats led 7-0.  The Lions answered with a longer drive but faced little resistance from the Wildcat defense.  Charlie Willingham finished off the drive with a one-yard plunge, tying the game at 7-7 with a little over four minutes to go in the first quarter.  After the Wildcats turned the ball over on their next drive, Hansen launched a deep pass down the right sideline.  The ball was up for grabs, and Wildcat defensive back Blake Siefert leaped high over the Providence receiver for an interception at the seven-yard line, returning it 15 yards to the 22.   Emmit Hahn, LaValle, Carson Langevin, and Lewis all had nice runs on the ensuing Wildcat drive.  Lewis called his own number from the two and scored to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead with 10:45 left in the second quarter.  The Lions moved the ball quickly downfield on their next drive, helped along by a 15-yeard penalty on the Wildcats for a horse collar that moved the ball down to the ten-yard line.  On first down the snap sailed over the head of Hansen.  He chased the ball down at the 20, but as he tried to get around the corner he was swarmed by Wildcats and lost another 12 yards.  A 17-yard completion put them at fourth down on the 15-yard line.  Max Igbanugo, who may be the tallest and heaviest kicker in the state, came in and drilled a 32-yard field goal to cut the Wildcat lead to 14-10 with 5:10 to go in the first half.

After a block in the back penalty on the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats started from their own ten-yard line.  On second and three from the 32, Lewis launched a pass past midfield along the left hashmark.  Siefert, now a wide receiver, again outleaped a Lion for the ball and came down with it at the Providence 45-yard line.  After an 11-yard run by LaValle, Jadon Greene took a pitch to the right, cut back up the middle and went for 15 yards.  On the next play, the offensive line opened up a nice hole for LaValle, who ran up the middle all the way to the end zone to make the score 21-10 with 2:44 left in the first half.  On the next drive, the Lion were forced to attempt a punt.  But the Wildcats broke down the Providence line and swarmed the punter before he could get off the kick, and the Wildcats took over on the Lion 36-yard line.  LaValle took a handoff and pinballed his way all the way down to the 13-yard line.  On third and three from the six, LaValle was pushed into the end zone by his teammates with just a few seconds left in the half, but the touchdown was waved off because of an illegal procedure penalty on the Wildcats.  The Wildcats had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Brycen Morely and led 24-10 going into the half.

On the opening drive of the second half, the Lions went for it on fourth and one from their own 44.  But the Wildcats knocked down the fourth down pass and took over in great field position.  On fourth and six from the 40, Langevin carried the ball around left end for a first down at the 34.  A touchdown on this drive would give the Wildcats a commanding lead.  But they fumbled on the next play and the Lions recovered with 9:19 left in the third quarter, plenty of time for a comeback.  Providence passed their way down the field.  On fourth and ten from the 23, Hansen hit Willingham for an eleven-yard completion down the right sideline for a first down.  On first down, Reed Bleymeyer blew through the line and blasted Hansen, knocking him over for a sack and sending his helmet flying.  Two plays later, Cole Stilp came though the line and chased down Hansen for another sack back at the 17-yard line, also knocking off Hansen’s helmet.  Igbanugo was called upon again.  He nailed a low line drive just over the crossbar with just about four minutes left in the third quarter to cut the Wildcat lead to 24-13.

On the ensuing drive, LaValle carried the ball three straight times for 22 yards, giving the Wildcats a first down at the Providence 43.  On the next play, Lewis looped a ball over the defense.  Logan Bender made a spinning catch in the middle of the field and was tackled at the 25-yard line.  One play later, LaValle broke through the middle, cut right and was tackled from behind at the nine-yard line.  On second down, Lewis handed the ball to LaValle.  But his deception was so good on the play, two Lion defenders tackled Lewis as LaValle loped into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a seemingly insurmountable 31-13 lead with 1 second left in the third quarter.  But the game was far from over.

On the first play of the next drive, Lion Colin Capouch took the handoff left and was off to the races, getting pushed out of bounds at the Wildcat 30 after a 40-yard gain.  On fourth and one from the 21, Nicholas Thoma ran for nine yards to give the Lions a first down at the 12.  Solomon Martin scored from 12 yards out with 9:41 left in the game, cutting the Wildcat lead to 31-20.  The Lions tried an onside kick, but Joseph Couwenhoven fell on the ball right at midfield.  Greene had a couple of nice runs on the ensuing drive.  On first and goal from the five. Lewis took the ball through a nice hole and into the end one for his third touchdown of the game, and the Wildcats led 38-20 with exactly four minutes to go in the game.  But the Lions refused to go away.  Lion Solomon Martin returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.  There was a block in the back, but no penalty was called.  That’s because the block in the back came from a Wildcat teammate.  The Wildcat player accidentally ran into his own teammate from behind as both were nearing Martin to make the tackle.  Both players tumbled to the ground, freeing Martin for the long run that cut the Wildcat lead to 38-27 with 3:44 left.  The Lions again tried an onside kick, and this time Cole Stilp fell on it at midfield.  A couple of plays later, Langevin scored a nice 37-yard run to make the score 45-27.

After a touchback, the Lions took over at their own 20 with 1:45 left in the game.  They used a five-receiver set and passed their way down the field with virtually no resistance from a tired Wildcat defense, scoring with 42 seconds left to cut the Wildcat lead to 45-34.  And when Cole Stilp recovered an onside kick for the second time in a row, the game was finally over.

LaValle, who may be on his way to a record-breaking season, is a humble star.  

When asked if he had ever gained over 200 yards before in a game, he said “No, that’s a first.”  And his 220 pounds certainly helps him run over and through defenders to pick up extra yards, but what else makes is such a great runner?  “Mobility,” said LaValle.  “You just gotta stay agile.  That’s all I’ve got.”  He was certainly sore getting out of bed Saturday morning, but he acknowledged enjoying his big performance.

Not long after a game that looked like a track meet at times, Wildcat head coach Ryan Anderson said “Thankfully, our defense made a few stops when we needed to and our offense punched the ball in when we had to.  And I’m sure glad that Evan LaValle is playing for us.  What probably didn’t get noticed by a lot of people was the he had some pretty big blocks in those last couple of drives, and he made a heck of a block to spring the touchdown run on that last drive.  He’s fun to watch.”

Anderson commented on Siefert’s big interception.  He said “One thing we have really been working on with our corners, to high point that ball, to be a basketball player.  And he is a basketball player, so he gets it.”  A referee pointed out that Wildcat lineman Chuck Gilman was having a very good game.  Anderson said “He’s been having himself a good couple of weeks here.  What’s fun about Chuck is that he just likes to play football.  He wants to be in there all the time, and that’s an easy kid to root for.  Offense, defense, special teams – he’s got a motor on him and he’s always ready to go.”

Anderson talked about one of his youngest starters, Cole Stilp.  He said “Cole is only a sophomore, but he is already playing like a senior.  He’s never one to shy away.  He had a nice pass breakup where he almost made an incredible one-handed interception.  And he had that sack and recovered those two onside kicks on the hands team.  So, he is not playing with fear.”

Football Notes

The Wildcats (3-0) have already surpassed their win total from last season.  Tomorrow night, they will take on the Big Lake Hornets (0-3) at Big Lake High School at 7 p.m.  The Hornets have been outscored 90-6 in their three losses so far this season.



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