Posts Tagged ‘Wayzata’

From StarTribune.com

After winning its third state title in six years, Wayzata deserves equal billing with Eden Prairie and Cretin.

By MICHAEL RAND, Star Tribune

Wayzata answered two questions emphatically in the Class 5A Prep Bowl. Were the Trojans the best team in the state in 2010? A 31-14 thrashing of previously undefeated Rosemount in Friday’s finale means yes is the only possible answer.

Have they cemented their place, big picture, in the state’s football hierarchy? Absolutely.

Eden Prairie and Cretin-Derham Hall might still be on the tips of tongues at the start of any debate over the state’s best-known and most successful big-school football programs. But it’s time to permanently put Wayzata into that mix — perhaps even at the top of the list. When it comes to Class 5A, there is a Big Three.

Three Wayzata state championships in six seasons provide the evidence. Without being cocky, the Trojans seem to know this one puts them in a different class.

“After this one people are going to look at us as one of the top two or the No. 1 program in the state of Minnesota,” senior quarterback Sasha Doran said. “They’ll know we’re a program that is always going to have a chance to win a championship.”

Of course, plenty of other Wayzata players were qualified to speak on that subject. Three different players are assigned jersey No. 1. Same goes with No. 2. The Trojans’ state tournament program requires squinting at all 122 players’ names.

This year’s Wayzata team possessed some intangible qualities that mark a program whose foundation is rock-solid. When I saw the Trojans for the first time this year, in the fifth game of the regular season, they eked out a 15-14 miracle victory in the final seconds over a good but not great Minnetonka squad. The Trojans team I saw Friday was completely different — still undersized, but a transformed juggernaut.

Special programs, too, have players who rise up when it matters most. Sophomore Mitchell Underhill, who had fewer than 800 yards rushing coming into Friday but galloped for 247 yards and four TDs on just 12 carries against the Irish, certainly is worthy of that distinction.

Overall, Wayzata’s style is sophisticated and relentless, but rarely flashy. They take their cue from head coach Brad Anderson — a low-key man off the field and a nice guy who finishes first. That’s a hard combination to pull off in a program where the stakes are so high, but Anderson never seems uncomfortable doing it — just as he never gets tired of winning.

Wayzata’s fans are also getting used to this. Many of them wore T-shirts with “Home away from home” written on them along with a picture of the Metrodome — a message that implies making it at least as far as the state semifinals and a trip inside the Teflon confines is now expected.

Lower down, the shirts say: “Champions wear gold.” That was the case in 2005, 2008 and Friday night. With the program Anderson has built, the next one could come at any time.

“When we won our first title, it let us join some rare company. Our second one proved it wasn’t a fluke,” Anderson said. “Now, having won our third, it means we belong with the better teams in the state.”

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From StarTribune.com

Mitchell Underhill hit the Irish with four big strikes on the ground, and the Trojans rolled to the 5A crown.

By DAVID La VAQUE, Star Tribune

Surrounded by reporters wanting to know everything about the young running back who enjoyed a championship performance for the ages, Wayzata’s Mitch Underhill got interrupted by teammate Scott Siegel.

“I just need the trophy,” Siegel said as he grabbed the Class 5A state tournament championship hardware. “You can keep talking.”

There was much to discuss. Underhill, a 15-year-old sophomore running back, led the top-ranked Trojans (11-0) to a 31-14 victory over No. 4 Rosemount (12-1) and their third state championship in the past six seasons. He carried 12 times for 247 yards and four touchdowns, on runs of 45, 66, 58 and 58 yards — the last three coming in the third quarter of Friday night’s game at the Metrodome. Underhill came into Friday’s game with a modest 747 yards and nine touchdowns

“When I see an open field, I’m going to run as fast as I can and go as hard as I can,” Underhill said. “I’m not going to let anyone touch me.”

Underhill’s first touchdown, a 45-yard sprint, gave Wayzata a 7-0 lead on its second play from scrimmage 51 seconds into the game. He struck again later at a key moment of the third quarter.

Rosemount tied the score on a short drive created when the Trojans’ Aaron Roth fumbled a punt return at the Wayzata 17-yard line. Irish quarterback Kevin Larson won a sprint to the goal line on a game-tying 3-yard touchdown run.

A 24-yard Ruan Albuquerque field goal, set up by a Rosemount fumble, gave Wayzata a 10-7 edge at halftime.

Downing a punt inside the Wayzata 1 and forcing a punt put Rosemount 39 yards away from taking a third-quarter lead. But the Trojans defense dug deep.

“We wanted to show we are as dominant of a defense that’s ever gone through Wayzata,” said Siegel, a starting defensive end. “We really wanted to make a point that no matter what, we were going to stop them.”

After allowing a first down, the defense forced the Irish to turn the ball over on downs. Cornerback Alex Carlson knocked away a potential touchdown pass in the end zone.

The turning point was at hand. Wayzata’s offensive line and Underhill took control by turning a third-and-1 run into a 66-yard touchdown and a 17-7 lead.

In the process, Underhill turned teammates into fans.

“His first touchdown was phenomenal,” Siegel said. “His second one gave me goose bumps. And after the next two, I was literally in awe and could not speak for a minute. I don’t know if I should say it because he’s only a sophomore, but he’s as good of a back as I’ve seen at Wayzata.”

From StarTribune.com

Wayzata will count on a fairly anonymous but wildly successful group of defenders when it takes on Rosemount for the Class 5A championship Friday.

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune

Now in his seventh season directing Wayzata’s often-smothering defense, assistant coach Matt Lombardi is scheming a plan to beat Rosemount in Friday’s Class 5A Prep Bowl showdown.

The top-ranked Trojans (10-0) rode their defense through the past month. The 16 points scored by Mounds View in the fourth quarter of last week’s semifinal game ended a 15-quarter shutout streak. The other downside to the Trojans’ 21-16 victory: Mounds View succeeded at running right at their lighter defenders — a game plan No. 4 Rosemount (12-0) and its option offense is sure to follow.

“They have some massive people inside,” Lombardi said. “We’ll have to play low and fast.”

Low and fast, the way warplanes elude detection by radar, might be the secret to the Trojans’ success this season. Four Division I recruits gave Wayzata’s 2009 defense some name recognition. The current defense, despite its performances, remains a mostly anonymous unit.

“They know they are a faceless defense,” Lombardi said. “Earlier this season some of the seniors wanted to get those same accolades. But they’ve realized our success will come from playing well as a group, and they’ve taken a lot of pride in that.”

Lombardi sets the tone for cumulative success by mixing and matching players to best fit his schemes. His father, Robert Lombardi, a member of the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, uses the same philosophy on offense. For Matt, being a coach’s son paid dividends.

“I learned more at the dinner table than anywhere,” Matt said.

When Lombardi arrived at Wayzata, he brought a complex system based on simple terms. His defenders don’t even have a playbook.

“There are probably 4,000 different calls, but there are about three words that tell me where to go,” defensive end Scott Siegel said.

Siegel knows his playing time depends on what opposing offenses like to do. While the faster Tucker Kline, a 5-10, 195-pound defensive tackle, made 10 tackles and two sacks in the quarterfinals against Blaine’s spread offense, Siegel spent more time on the sideline.

One week later, the 6-1, 229-pound Siegel tormented Mounds View’s run-heavy attack with eight tackles, six for loss.

“I like to do the muckier stuff inside,” Siegel said. “I’m a bigger person, so it’s kind of hard to move me.”

Siegel said he is “not sure if I’ll leave the field much” against run-first Rosemount. Trojans safety David Boegel knows the feeling. Boegel is a rare three-year starter. Not even linebacker James Laurinaitis, a three-time All-America at Ohio State and current member of the St. Louis Rams, matched that feat.

Lombardi said the 5-10, 175-pound Boegel is the Trojans’ version of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu — a player with the speed and smarts to make plays in all situations. Boegel, who leads the team in tackles, recorded a sack against Mounds View and also knocked down the Mustangs’ final pass attempt.

“I know Lombo is counting on me to do everything right,” Boegel said. “He puts me in a position to make plays so I want to be the guy who goes out and sacrifices my body to make the team better.”

Lombardi said the defense improved throughout the season, culminating in a “staggering” run to the state championship game.

“I give the kids all the credit,” Lombardi said. “We’re little, but we’ve learned there is an expectation on the defense to be pretty good. And these kids believe they’ll stop you.”

From StarTribune.com

Surging Mounds View was a TD away from the lead when the Trojans’ backup QB tucked the ball away on a deflating 62-yard scramble, setting up an insurance TD.

By DAVID LA VAQUE dlavaque@startribune.com, Star Tribune

It probably figures that the longest offensive gain in a game controlled by defense was forced rather than called.

Part-time Wayzata quarterback Nick Martin was instructed to look for a receiver running a drag route against Mounds View and given the option to run if the play did not come open.

With Mustangs blanketing his receiver, Martin ran 62 yards to Mounds View’s 11. It was the big play the Trojans needed to set up a touchdown and go ahead by 12 points in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 21-16 Trojans victory in a Class 5A state semifinal at the Metrodome.

Fighters to the end, Mounds View (11-2) answered with a touchdown and was not out of the game until a pass fell short on fourth-and-6 from Wayzata’s 39.

With the victory, Wayzata (10-0) advances to play Rosemount (12-0) on Friday in the Prep Bowl championship game. Wayzata previously won Class 5A titles in 2005 and 2008. Rosemount won in 1981.

“We knew we’d have to earn this one,” Wayzata coach Brad Anderson said.

Two touchdowns six minutes into the game, one each from the defense and offense, gave No. 1 Wayzata a 14-0 lead over No. 6 Mounds View that the Trojans held into the fourth quarter.

Then Mounds View found the end zone, first on a ball tipped by Jimmy Duffy into the waiting arms of Blake Anderson. The play capped a 17-play, 85-yard drive and cut Wayzata’s lead to 14-7.

Wayzata entered Saturday’s semifinal game having outscored its previous three opponents 111-0. The Trojans had not allowed a point since overtime of their victory over Eden Prairie on Oct. 20.

Wayzata had to punt away its next possession from its own 23, and the attempt was blocked by Maze Thompson. The ball rolled into the end zone for a safety and gave the Mustangs the ball.

Then Martin, who plays the third drive of each half in relief of starting quarterback Sasha Doran, came into the game. Though not a running quarterback, Martin is an ex-soccer player in his second year of football. So he is familiar with the concept of making runs.

“His run tonight might have been the difference,” Anderson said. “He’s really an unflappable athlete.”

Aaron Roth’s touchdown run made it 21-9 with 5:34 remaining, enough time for Duffy to haul in a one-handed touchdown catch and for the Mustangs defense to force a punt.

“We fed off our defense’s emotion,” Mounds View coach Jim Galvin said. “We just asked them to give us chances. In the end we just needed one more first down.”

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Highlight video of the Mounds View vs Wayzata playoff game courtesy of Coon Rapids Sports on YouTube

From StarTribune.com

Cretin-Derham Hall and Eden Prairie are missing, but there is still a strong field as the top-rated Trojans go after a third title.

By DAVID La VAQUE, Star Tribune

While there is nothing new under the sun, a fresh and unusual high school football atmosphere can be found this weekend under the Metrodome roof.

The final four teams in the Class 5A state tournament were all ranked in the final regular-season AP poll: No. 7 Brainerd, No. 6 Mounds View, No. 4 Rosemount and No. 1 Wayzata. Of almost equal note are the two football powers not in the house: defending state champion Cretin-Derham Hall and six-time state champ Eden Prairie. Both were knocked out last week, the first time both have missed the semifinals since 2004.

“It almost falls in the category of being unique that those two aren’t in the final four,” said longtime Brainerd coach Ron Stolski, whose Warriors stunned Eden Prairie in the quarterfinals. “But there’s a lot of good football in Minnesota, and things do happen.”

Indeed. Just look at the Raider-less, Eagle-less yet impressive pairings. Brainerd (11-0) plays Rosemount (11-0) at 8:15 p.m. Friday in a battle of unbeatens. Mounds View (11-1) and Wayzata (9-0) kick off at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday.

The field is not entirely new. Both Brainerd and Mounds View reached the semifinals last season and were defeated by Cretin-Derham Hall and Eden Prairie, respectively. But reaching the Dome with those football giants in the rear-view mirror rather than the headlights is an inspiring sight.

“Who would have guessed?” said Mounds View coach Jim Galvin, whose Mustangs beat Cretin-Derham Hall last week for the first time since 1974. “If you played those games on paper, they would have gone a different way.”

Of course, one giant remains. Wayzata — which features the state’s largest enrollment (3,091) and two recent state football titles (2005 and 2008) — looms over the field with a large, mobile offensive line, capable skill players and a wrecking ball of a defense. The Trojans’ relentless style held Blaine quarterback and Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year Eric Kline to just 86 yards of total offense in the section title game, forcing two interceptions and allowing no TDs.

“They are fast and ornery, and they bring bad intentions with them to the ball,” Galvin said.

A similar defensive effort will be important to Mounds View’s success, and Galvin likes his chances.

“We played teams like Stillwater and Cretin that are very similar to Wayzata in terms of offense,” Galvin said. “We will be able to use a lot of our same schemes.”

Stolski and Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann said their teams share offensive similarities. Rosemount runs the option while the Warriors line up in the spread formation, but both teams are predicated on the run. Each offense piled up more than 3,900 total yards — at least 3,000 of which came on the ground.

“We’re not all that flashy,” Erdmann said. “We don’t wear wristbands. We run the ball and try to do things right.”

Rosemount is led by quarterback Kevin Larson and running back Andrew Hausmann, who together accounted for 1,953 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns, many behind offensive lineman and Mr. Football finalist Joe Bjorklund.

Their offensive counterpart is Brainerd running back Jordan Hayes. The Mr. Football finalist ran for 1,370 yards and 15 touchdowns and is a “scintillating” player according to Stolski — a former English teacher.

Much of the remaining field ignored recent history to advance. When it comes to predicting a state champion, Erdmann said “every year people pencil in two or three teams. But that’s not always fair.”

This season we’ll have a weekly segment called “The Big One” where we feature a game with post-game articles and/or analysis including video from our friends at Coon Rapids Sports on YouTube.  Our next “Big One” of the 2010 season will be the Mounds View vs Wayzata semifinal State 5A playoff game on Saturday, November 20th (8:15pm) @ Metrodome.

The Wayzata Trojans (9-0) enter this game undefeated.  They’ve beaten three other State 5A qualifying teams (Lakeville South, Eden Prairie, Blaine) by an average score of 36-16 and their defense has shutout their three playoff  opponents.  They have speed.  They have skill.  They have coaching.  How can they lose?  The Mounds View Mustangs (10-1) enter this game on a high having avenged their only loss of the season to Cretin-Derham Hall by holding them to just 7 points in a 21-7 win.  Like Wayzata the Mustangs have dominated their three playoff opponents beating them by an average score of 34-9.  They have some speed.  They have some skill.  They have some coaching.  But do they have enough to knock off the top-ranked Wayzata Trojans and secure a spot in the Minnesota State 5A Championship game?  We’ll find out Saturday night.

State 5A Semifinal Matchups (@ Metrodome):
– Rosemount vs Brainerd – Friday, November 19th (8:15pm)
– Mounds View vs Wayzata – Saturday, November 20th (8:15pm)

From StarTribune.com

A much-anticipated showdown between the top two teams quickly became one-sided.

By DAVID La VAQUE, Star Tribune

Late in a first half that saw Wayzata’s defense flush, flummox and flatten him, Blaine quarterback Eric Kline once again found himself on the run.

Forced to his left with Trojans’ defenders in hot pursuit and clawing at the football in his right hand, Kline switched the ball to his left hand while trying to get out of bounds — one more case of him acting out of desperation rather than design.

Blitzing Wayzata defenders shut down the state’s best dual threat quarterback and turned a meeting of the state’s two best teams into a rout. Defensive pressure and four Aaron Roth touchdowns pushed No. 1 Wayzata (9-0) to a 34-0 victory in Friday’s Class 5A state tournament quarterfinal at Osseo.

“Eric had guys in his face all night,” Blaine coach Shannon Gerrety said. “I felt bad for him. That was a different level of football tonight.”

Heading into Friday, No. 2 Blaine’s (10-1) spread offense averaged 38.1 points per game. One possession against Wayzata indicated the Bengals’ attack would come up short of the mark. Kline got sacked twice, forcing him into his duties as Blaine’s punter. New role, same result. Wayzata’s special teams put a rush on and tackled Kline at the Bengals’ 18-yard line. Kline, who accounted for 3,002 total yards and 34 touchdowns this season, was held to 27 yards rushing on 22 carries and completed 9 of 14 passes for 59 yards and two interceptions.

“Tonight was our night,” Wayzata coach Brad Anderson said. “We jumped on them early. Our defense isn’t big but they fly around and get after it.”

Blaine moved the ball on its next possession as Kline completed a 15-yard pass, then broke off a 13-yard run to Wayzata’s 39-yard line. The Trojans called timeout then held serve for three plays to force another Bengals’ punt. Wayzata’s offense drove 80 yards for a second touchdown and 13-0 lead.

Two more sacks from the Trojans’ defense stifled Blaine’s next drive. Using a three-man front with one or two blitzing players off the edge, Wayzata kept the Bengals going backward en route to the Trojans’ third consecutive shutout.

“Our defensive coordinator Matt Lombardi is a mad scientist,” Anderson said. “He dreams schemes up at night.”

Members of the Wayzata crowd felt their wildest dreams come true when the public address announcer notified them of losses by six-time state champion Eden Prairie and defending state champion Cretin-Derham Hall.

“We’ll celebrate this one tonight and we’ll worry about what’s ahead tomorrow,” said a smiling Anderson.

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Highlight video of the Blaine vs Wayzata playoff game courtesy of Coon Rapids Sports on YouTube