State repeat complete! Lions take second state title, 40-18

LEFT: The seven Spring Grove football seniors hoist the 2018 state championship trophy after successfully defending the Lions’ 2017 state title at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. RIGHT: Kai Bjerke intercepts this long pass at the Lion 7 yard-line. It was the first interception in 13 games for Mountain Lake quarterback Abraham Stoesz. Photos by Cheryl Patterson
By : 
S. Lee Epps

Spring Grove scored on its first three possessions of the second half to seal a second straight state football championship, shelving previously undefeated 12-0 Mountain Lake Area 40-18. 

There were about 200 people watching at the Spring Grove Cinema in addition to many drivers and three and half busloads of Lion fans in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Friday morning, Nov. 23.

Spring Grove (13-0, 14-0 counting a forfeit) never trailed, but did not begin to pull away until late in the third quarter or feel comfortable until the final period.

It was a rushing duel between two spread formation quarterbacks, each running for more than 200 yards while surpassing more than 300 yards of total offense (rushing and passing).

For the Lions, senior Alex Folz rushed for 256 yards (30 carries) and four touchdowns (7, 88, 4 and 50 yard-runs) while Wolverine junior Abraham Stoesz ran for 241 yards (21 carries) and two touchdowns (52 and 51-yard runs).

Stoesz also passed for another touchdown, while all six Spring Grove touchdowns came on the ground. 

Tyler Kersten had career-high statistics, running for 109 yards (13 carries) and two touchdowns, including a 58-yard sprint that put the Lions up 14-6 shortly before halftime.

Later, Kersten's 2-yard scoring run capped the team's most sustained possession - a 13-play, 66-yard march that gave the Lions a two-score lead (20-6) late in the third quarter.

Mountain Lake Area came right back with an 11-play drive, but Kai Bjerke intercepted a long pass at the SG 7 yard-line. After 136 passes this season, Stoesz was intercepted for the first time.

Two plays later, Folz bolted 88 yards to make it 26-6 early with just over nine minutes to play.

Only four plays later, Noah Elton picked off another Stoesz pass and returned it 27 yards to the MLA 7 yard-line. Folz scored from the 4, and the Lions led 32-6 - the second Spring Grove touchdown in just over two minutes.

But to their credit, the Wolverines kept fighting and added two quick touchdowns. Stoesz finished off a 6-play, 62-yard possession by hitting Drake Harder with a 10-yard touchdown pass.

After forcing a Lion punt, Stoesz broke loose for a 51-yard scoring scamper to make it 32-18 with 2:03 remaining.

But Folz answered with a 50-yard touchdown run with only 1:08 on the clock. After