The Braham bombers kept the game close and trailed by just seven (7-0) in the first half, but the Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels flexed their muscles in the second half and won their fifth straight Section 7AA title, 35-8 .
BY JOHN GRONES
DULUTH, Minn.—The Braham Bombers showed up to play in the Section 7AA High School Football championship game versus the heavily favored Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels. However, there was no story book ending. Braham kept the game close and trailed by just seven (7-0) in the first half, but the Rebels flexed their muscles in the second half and won their fifth straight title, 35-8.
Moose Lake/Willow River head coach Dave Louzek credited Braham for coming ready to play. “They rolled over and didn’t put up much of a fight the first time we played them,” said Coach Louzek. “They were fired up to prove that they are a better team than that in the championship game.”
After a difficult first half, the Rebels held a slim 7-0 lead and the coaching staff decided to make a few small adjustments. “The biggest adjustment was to have our linemen stay on their first level blocks and move the pile down field rather than release and try to get a second level block,” Louzek pointed out. “Braham did a great job of crowding the line of scrimmage and when our linemen released to get to a second level the running backs weren’t yet through the hole and were getting tackled.”
Moose Lake/Willow River already had control of the game defensively, and with the adjustment rolled on offense the remainder of the game. The Rebels scored 28 second half points and piled up 262 yards of rushing offense in the period. “It was good for our team to be in close games at half time and then come out and take control in the second half—no panic or self destruction,” Louzek noted.
Defensively, Coach Louzek can’t say enough about this team. “Our defense has been great all season. Deer River and Braham both scored 50+ points in their playoff games before playing us. We held Deer River to 0 points and Braham to 8.”
The strength is of Moose Lake/Willow River’s line begins with Austin Lanoue and Nathan Vargas at tackle and Cody Schmidt and Ross Degerstrom at defensive end. Add in the solid group of linebackers and defensive backs and the Rebels are a brick wall. “Our defense does a great job reacting to the ball and the whole defense swarms to the tackle,” concluded Louzek.
With the win, the Rebels advance to the Minnesota State High School football quarterfinals to be played in St. Cloud on Friday, November 12 at 5:00 p.m. They will face the winner of Eden Valley-Watkins and BOLD.
MOOSE LAKE/WR — 7-0-14-14 — 35
BRAHAM — 0-0-0-8 — 8
1ST QUARTER: MOOSE LAKE/WR—Chris Gassert 36-yard run (Bennett kick).
2nd QUARTER: none.
3RD QUARTER: MOOSE LAKE/WR—Chris Gassert 6-yard run (Bennett kick), Adam Johnson 6-yard run (Bennett kick).
4TH QUARTER: MOOSE LAKE/WR—Jake Disterhaupt 6-yard run (Bennett kick), BRAHAM—Taylor Vaughn 14-yard pass reception from Mike Strelow (2 point conversion good), MOOSE LAKE/WR—Jake Disterhaupt 18-yard run (Bennett kick).
HIGHLIGHTS: ML/WR RUSHING— Chris Gassert (26 carries – 244 yds) Josh Cisar (9 carries – 35 yds) Adam Johnsen (19 carries – 91 yds) (Cody Schmidt 1 carry – 8 yds) Jacob Disterhaupt (6 carries – 47 yds) ML/WR PASSING—Nick Tokar (1 completion – 5 attempts – 33 yds) ML/WR RECEIVING—Nathan Van Zee (1 reception – 33 yds) ML/WR DEFENSE—Austin Lanoue (9 tackles, sack) Josh Cisar (7 tackles, INT) Nathan Van Zee (6 tackles) Spencer Clough (5 tackles) Abe Young (4 tackle, INT) Trevor Nummela (4 tackles).