The Lion defense came up with a shutout in the state title game. Converging on Nevis quarter Jack DeWulf are Taylor Holty (#55), Luke Schneider (#18), Cullen Patterson (#21), Noah Elton (#28 and George Boyd (#59). Photo by Jon Speltz
The Lion defense came up with a shutout in the state title game. Converging on Nevis quarter Jack DeWulf are Taylor Holty (#55), Luke Schneider (#18), Cullen Patterson (#21), Noah Elton (#28 and George Boyd (#59). Photo by Jon Speltz
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The Spring Grove Lions captured the state 9-Man football championship on Friday, Nov. 24, by beating Nevis 32-0 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The No. 1-ranked Lions ran the table on a perfect season, finishing 14-0, while No. 6-ranked Nevis finished 11-2.

The Lions got off to a fast start and never looked back. SG head coach Zach Hauser and offensive coordinator Kody Moore both said the team played its best game of the season. Unlike the previous two playoff games, the Lions took control early, leading 26-0 at halftime before pitching a 32-0 shutout. Hauser said the kids executed the game plan every time they took the field.

“Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran and Grand Meadow were probably the toughest games for defense when you look back at it,” he said. “I felt like we had really good game plans for each of the state tournament games that the players believed in and executed them really well.”

In the title game, five Spring Grove touchdowns were scored by five different players, including three receiving touchdowns and two running scores.

Meanwhile, Spring Grove blanked a team averaging just under 32 points a game and having put up 42 and 44 points in two state tournament games. Nevis also came in averaging nearly 358 yards a game but was limited by the Spring Grove defense to only 251.

Tiger coach Shawn Klimek praised the play of the Spring Grove defensive ends - Sam Sanness (10 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 fumble recovery) and Ethan Matzke (8 tackles) - who made life difficult for the Nevis offense.

Safety Alex Folz and linebackers Taylor Holty and Luke Schneider were each in on 9 stops. In addition to a quarterback sack, Adin Solum had his third state tournament interception with one coming in each game.

While the Spring Grove offense was successful on 6 of 10 third-down plays, the Tigers were able to convert only 1 of 9 but were successful on a pair of fourth downs, one of which was converted on a fake punt.

QUARTERBACK CLASH

Coming into the finale, the game was supposed to be a battle of running quarterbacks. Both signal-callers ran well, as expected. Nevis senior QB Jack DeWulf ran 22 times for 111 yards, while for Spring Grove, Folz carried the ball 18 times for 110 yards and a touchdown.

However, the Lions also got 126 yards and a TD from the game’s leading rusher, Cullen Patterson. With a rushing advantage of 239 yards to 176, the Lions also outgained the Tigers by 120 yards through the air.

DeWulf completed only 2 of 9 passes (22%) for 75 yards while being picked off once, sacked 3 times for a minus-29 yards and was forced to scramble 4 times.

Folz completed 16 of 22 passes (73%) for 195 yards and 3 touchdowns while not throwing an interception and not getting sacked once.

Six different Lions had receptions, three for touchdowns. Matzke (3 catches for 48 yards) and Luke Schneider (2 catches, 37 yards) each scored on dazzling leaping, diving grabs in the end zone with catches good for 28 and 25 yards, respectively. Adding a 2-point conversion catch would make Matzke the leading scorer.

Noah Elton (3 catches, 17 yards) took a pass in the flat, ran it 9 yards and then dove for the pylon to finish the third passing touchdown.

Sanness (3 catches, 60 yards) took a pass 42 yards to the Tiger 1 yard-line to set up Patterson’s 6-yard TD gallop. Folz also completed a third-and-10 pass to Solum covering 19 yards to help set up the first Spring Grove TD,

TAKING CONTROL

A fumble forced the Lions to punt on their first possession of the game, but then they would score on their next four to lead 26-0 at halftime.

After DeWulf punted 49 yards to the SG 6 yard-line, the Lions then drove 94 yards in 10 plays with Folz running the final 15 yards to pay dirt. That wrapped up the fourth drive of more than 90 yards for Spring Grove in the three state tournament games.

The Lions won the turnover battle 2 to 0, launching scoring drives covering 94, 43, 74, 58, and 43 yards.

The only frustration for the SG offense was converting only one extra points play.

The Tigers had only 12 first downs but did threaten to score three times. Nevis ran out of time at the Lion 35 yard-line at the end of the first half.

The Tigers opened the second half with a 14-play, 54-yard possession before the Lion defense turned the Tiger offense over on downs at the SG 10.

Nevis reached the Lions’ 23 before Solum’s interception snuffed out the final threat with 4:40 to play.

Outscoring the opposition 93-13 in the state tournament is quite an accomplishment. Hauser said the kids get credit for rising to the challenge in the playoffs against very good teams every time they took the field.

“They just believed in themselves and each other,” Hauser said. “They set a goal of getting state championship rings this year, and they were going to work as hard as they possibly could to accomplish their goal.”

Hauser said the state title still seems a little surreal.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier to see these seniors end their careers with a state championship. For me personally, it feels pretty good, but it’s hard to put into words. Personally, I was part of a Caledonia state basketball title in 1997 but was only a sophomore at the time.”

During the postgame trophy ceremony, a Most Valuable Teammate, award was presented to a member of each team with Schneider (senior receiver/linebacker) the recipient for Spring Grove.

Spring Grove showed it deserved to finish the season with the state’s No. 1 ranking in 9-Man football. The Lion win was the first half of a Houston County sweep as Caledonia took the Class AA title by a score of 57-6 against Pipestone Area.

SG 32, Nevis 0

SG---14---12---0---6 = 32

Nev---0----0----0---0 = 0

TEAM TOTALS

YARDAGE (rush+pass): SG 434 (239+195), Nev 251 (176+75)

RUSHING att.-yards (avg.): SG 36-239 (6.6), Nev 44-176 (4.0)

PASSES- comp-att-int, yds. (TD): SG 16-22-0, 195 yds. (3 TD), Nev 2-9-1, 75 yds.

SACKS allowed: SG 0, Nev 3

TD: SG 2 rush, 3 pass

PAT: 1-5 (kick 0-2, run 0-1, pass 1-2)

TOTAL PLAYS: SG 58, Nev 53

YARDS per PLAY: SG 7.5, Nev 4.7

FUMBLES - LOST: SG 2-0, Nev 3-1

TURNOVERS: SG 0, Nev 2

PENALTIES: SG 4-35, Nev 6-40

3rd downs: SG 6-10, Nev 1-9

4th downs: SG 0-1, Nev 2-3

Red zone: SG 3-4, Nev 0-1

First downs: SG 22, Nev 12

Plays of 20+ yards: SG 6, Nev 4

>>>INDIVIDUALS:

RUSHING:

Cullen Patterson 17-126, TD, long 43

Alex Folz 18-110, TD, long 30

Noah Elton 1-3

PASSING:

Alex Folz 16-22-0, 195 yds. 3TD, PAT

RECEIVING:

Sam Sanness 3-60, long 42

Ethan Matzke 3-48, TD, PAT, long 28

Luke Schneider 2-37, TD, long 25

Adin Solum 3-25, long 19

Noah Elton 3-17, TD, long 9

Cullen Patterson 2-8

PUNTING:

Alex Folz 3-109 (36.3 avg.)

XP KICKING: Alex Folz 0-2

INTERCEPTION: Adin Solum 1-9 yds.

PASS BREAKUPS: Luke Schneider 1, Alex Folz 1

FUMBLE RECOVERY: Sanness 1

FUMBLES FORCED: Alex Folz 1

SACKS: Adin Solum 1, Noah Elton 1, Calvin Sylling 1

TACKLES for LOSS (incl. sacks): Sam Sanness 2, Adin Solum 1, Noah Elton 1, Calvin Sylling 1

TACKLES (solo+assists): Sam Sanness 10 (4+6), Alex Folz 9 (4+5), Taylor Holty 9 (2+7), Luke Schneider 9 (1+8), Ethan Matzke 8 (2+6), Noah Elton 7 (3+4), Cullen Patterson 7 (3+4), Adin Solum 5 (2+3), Reese Crouch 4 (2+2), George Boyd 4 (1+3), Calvin Sylling 2 (1+1), Tyler Kersten 2 (0+2), Casey Otterness 1 (0+1)

KICKOFF RETURNS: Cullen Patterson 1-10 yds.

PUNT RETURNS: Noah Elton 2-7

SCORING: Ethan Matzke 8, Luke Schneider 6, Noah Elton 6, Cullen Patterson 6, Alex Folz 6

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9-man State Tourney

>>QUARTERFINALS

SG 34, Verndale 6

Stephen-Argyle 39, Cromwell-Wright 22

Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 8, Mountain Lake 6

Nevis 42, North Woods 14

>>SEMI-FINALS

SG 27, Stephen-Argyle 7

Nevis 44, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 16

>>FINALS: SG 32, Nevis 0

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Spring Grove Varsity Football

14 wins, 0 losses (7-0 East Sub-district)

W vs. Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran 52-51 (OT)

W at Lyle/Pacelli 70-6

W vs. Mabel-Canton 50-16

W at Randolph 53-7

W vs. Lanesboro 60-14

W at Houston 26-6

W vs. Grand Meadow 33-20

W at LeRoy-Ostrander 49-14

SECTION: Spring Grove 64, Lyle/Pacelli 20

SECTION: Spring Grove 40, Grand Meadow 17

SECTION: Spring Grove 36, Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran 35

STATE: Spring Grove 34, Verndale 6

STATE: Spring Grove 27, Stephen-Argyle 7

STATE: Spring Grove 32, Nevis 0

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Spring Grove B-Team Football

3 wins, 1 loss

W vs. Mabel-Canton 40-8

L at Grand Meadow 6-20

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 72-0

W at Randolph 22-6

10/09 at Houston, canceled

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Spring Grove/Mabel-Canton/North Winneshiek Junior High Football

1 win, 5 losses, 1 tie

W vs. Lyle/Pacelli 24-12

L at Grand Meadow 0-38

L vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 0-44

L vs. Lansing Kee 6-48

L at Randolph 0-32

T vs. Houston 7-7

L vs. Lanesboro 7-26

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Spring Grove/Mabel-Canton Sixth/Fifth Grade Football

5 wins, 0 losses

W vs. Winona Orange 26-0

W vs. Lewiston 28-0

W vs. Winona Black 21-6

W vs. Cochrane-Fountain City 34-9

W vs. Houston 33-0

W. Winona Orange 41-0

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