The Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels advance to State with 48-7 win over the Two Harbors Agates at Public School Stadium in Duluth
BY JIM HAWLEY
At what point does a group of Rebels become mainstream? Moose Lake/Willow River (“ML/WR”) won the section title for the sixth consecutive year by polishing off the Two Harbors Agates 48-7 at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth. Dave Louzek, ML/WR Head Coach, was succinct, saying “Our goal is to compete for a state championship every year.”
The Rebels (11-0) scored three touchdowns on their first four offensive possessions, which surrounded a punt return and interception return for touchdown, as they blew the game open in the first half. Senior Chris Gassert set the pace, scoring four touchdowns – three on offense and one on defense, plus chipping in a fumble recovery. Gassert finished with 140 yards rushing in nine carries.
The Rebels move on to face Pierz (10-1) at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 11 in the first round of State Tournament Quarterfinals at St. Cloud State University.
Taking advantage of a short field after recovering an opening onside kick attempt by the Agates, ML/WR scored in just three plays. Gassert ran for 30 yards on the first play, and ran seven yards for the touchdown. Junior B.J. Young began a successful evening by kicking the extra point. Per Agate Coach Tom Nelson, the opening onside attempt was a planned tactic in recognition of the Rebels’ potent offense, thinking, “… maybe we get the ball and don’t give them the opportunity (for a quick score).” Unfortunately, the Rebels were expecting it, and “… had our hands team in for that first kick.’’ according to Coach Louzek.
After forcing the Agates to go three-and-out and to punt, the Rebels took over at their own 25-yard line. Four plays later, they were back in the end zone. The drive featured a 28-yard pass play from junior Tony Adamczak to senior Jake Disterhaupt, the Rebels rushing and receiving leader who wears the Rebels’ coveted #89 jersey, and a 37-yard touchdown run by Gassert. Young’s kick made it 14-0, Rebels.
ML/WR then successfully executed an onside kick of their own to take over again on offense. After gaining two first downs, their drive was ended by a Skyler Lysacker interception at the Agate 33. The Agates then ran off 13 plays, before Gassert picked off a pass and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown. The kick failed, leaving the score 20-0.
After forcing another Agate punt, Young got on the other end of the kicking game by returning a punt 65 yards for a touchdown. He finished the scoring with the extra point kick, leaving the Rebels up 27-0 early in the second quarter. Coach Nelson credited his seniors for not crashing and burning in the face of this adversity. “We work a lot on what it means to be a leader and how you carry yourself, whether things are going well or not so well,” said Nelson.
Two Harbors again gambled a little on their next drive, going for a first down on a fourth-down, four yards to go play at the Rebels’ 49-yard line. They lost two yards on the fourth down attempt. A Gassert 49-yard touchdown run resulted on the next play. Young’s extra point made the score 34-0, Rebels. That was the score at the end of the first half.
The second half began with an Agate drive that ended with a turnover – a fumble recovery by Gassert at the Rebels’ 35-yard line. Disterhaupt keyed the drive with a 33-yard run. Adamczak connected with Isaac Coil for a one-yard touchdown pass to complete the drive. Young’s kick made it 41-0.
The Rebels forced another three-and-out plus punt, which was returned to their 49-yard line. Young broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown run for his second score of the evening, and then kicked the extra point, leaving the Rebels up 48-0 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was played under running time, and featured the Agates lone touchdown. After taking the Rebel kickoff at their own 33-yard line, the Agates went on a 10-play drive. The key play was a 35-yard run by sophomore Mike Nordean. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Omtvedt capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick by senior Jesse Omtvedt provided the final score for the evening of 48-7. For the Agates, senior Kyle Omtvedt, team rushing leader, ran for 93 yards, while Nordean added 82 yards.
The Agates saw their three-game winning streak come to an end and finished the season at 5-6. Coach Nelson was justifiably proud of his team, “One month ago there not a person outside of our program that would have ever believed that these boys would have been playing for a section championship and berth to the state tournament, but they did exactly that …”
Both coaches are looking forward. It is a matter of time horizon.
Coach Louzek and his staff headed to the Fargodome to scout their next week’s opponent, knowing that “Pierz has a very good program with many recent State Tournament appearances.”
Coach Nelson was thinking about next year, “I think with the proper dedication and work ethic our future looks bright, … You always want to improve no matter where you are and that is what we will be looking to do … getting better every play and every day.”