After a scoreless first quarter where both the Caledonia Warriors and the Minneapolis North Polars exchanged mistakes, one team took control of the 2A state quarterfinal game. The power of the bleach took control, and the Caledonia Warriors won going away 38-0.
Caledonia's fairly regular trips to the state tournament include each member of the team bleaching their hair. The tradition started in 2007. The seniors decided to do it when they made it to state. They bleached their hair again the next year. Then in 2009 they went with their natural hair color and lost in the first round. Ever since then, bleached is the only way to go when the Warriors make it to State. There seems to be something in those bottles of bleach that is working. Caledonia hasn't lost a game since November 15th, 2014 in the state semi-finals.
Their first-round game was more intriguing than a typical state quarterfinal game. Because North moved up a class from last year to Class AA the quarterfinal game in Burnsville was one of the rare times two defending champions met in the playoffs.
Caledonia started the scoring with a combination that the Polars couldn't stop all night – quarterback Owen King to receiver Jordan Burg.
“It all starts with the line – they blocked great,” Burg said. “As wideouts, we knew we were going to get one on one coverage. We had to beat the press coverage and make some plays.”
“We wanted to take them over the top early,” King said. “We were struggling to connect, but then we hit the intermediate and short stuff and got things going. Once we got the wind, we started to push the ball vertically.”
King – our 8th ranked senior and second rated quarterback – would find his favorite target for the Warriors' first three scores. Touchdown passes of 7-yards, 33-yards and 24-yards gave the defending 2A champions a 20-0 lead.
“It is what we expect from Burg,” Caledonia head coach Carl Fruechte said.
The defense and running game would take it from there.
The Warriors' defense was swarming all night. The Polars only threatened on offense a couple of times and never got into the red zone. Every time the Polars got a sniff of the open field three or four defenders surrounded the ball carrier.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Burg said. “We scouted them all week and worked hard all week and played hard and played fast. We got the job done.”
The defense not only pitched a shutout – they also put points on the board. With North backed up near their goal line a high shotgun snap bounced back toward the end zone. David Seymour was the beneficiary and dove on the ball for the touchdown and a 26-0 lead.
“They understand how to use their hands, and for us, it is all about speed,” Fruechte said about his defense. “You have to be fast, and you have to be explosive and blow up your gaps.”
King didn't run much, but with the offensive line and running back Mason Staggemeyer taking control in the second half – wearing down the Polars' defense – King sold the fake to the running back and saw a lot of green in front of him and was not touched until the goal line. By then it was too late, and King contributed to his fourth touchdown of the game and his first on the ground.
“He is special,” Fruechte said about his quarterback. “He understands sports and is very competitive. He loves to win and loves his teammates. He is the complete package.”
The bleached hair of the Caledonia Warriors dominated their fellow defending state champions. They will move on to U.S. Bank Stadium – blond hair and all – to face Paynesville and try to get back to the state championship game for the third straight time.