The Lowdown – State Quarterfinal Edition
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X Factors 9-Man: Noah Klemetson, RB/LB – Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 2018 stats: 1,331 rush yards, 17 rush TD, 476 receiving yards, five rec TD; 84 tackles, 3 INT Klemetson is the Titans big play threat in both the run and…
9-Man: Noah Klemetson, RB/LB – Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal
2018 stats: 1,331 rush yards, 17 rush TD, 476 receiving yards, five rec TD; 84 tackles, 3 INT
Klemetson is the Titans big play threat in both the run and pass game, leading NCE/U-H to an unbeaten record entering its quarterfinal matchup against Cromwell. A 9-Man All-State Honorable Mention selection as a junior, Klemetson has been even better this fall with almost 1,800 yards of total offense and 22 scores.
Class A: Jordan Sagedahl, QB – BOLD
1,623 pass yards, 23 TD-1 INT, 525 rush yards, 8 TD
Already a three-year starter, the 6-foot-2 Sagedahl has the Warriors back in the State Tournament for the first time since 2014. He’s led BOLD’s offense to an average of over 57 points per game, including five games of 63 or more. His 23:1 touchdown to interception ratio is one of the best in the state, which Ottertail Central will look to change on Saturday.
Class AA: Tucker Peterson, RB/DB – Pillager
1,154 rush yards, 14 rush TD, 310 rec yards, five rec TD; 68 tackles, 3 FR
The Huskies junior is a big reason why Paul Peterson’s team is back in the Class AA State Tournament for the second time in three seasons. He’s rushed for 90 or more yards in 9 of 11 games, including all three section playoff wins. He’s also a pass-catching weapon out of the backfield, pacing the team with 19 catches for 310 yards and five scores. If Pillager is going to keep pace with the high-flying Paynesville offense, it will likely be on the legs of Peterson.
Class AAA: Pat Leary, RB/WR/DB – Rochester Lourdes
504 rec yards, seven rec TD, 524 rush yards, 8 rush TD
Leary does a little bit of everything for the unbeaten Eagles. He’s the team’s leading receiver and a change-of-pace ball carrier on offense. Defensively, he’s the team’s best cornerback – something that will be huge in the quarterfinal game against Jordan. Leary also kicks and punts for Mike Kesler’s Lourdes squad, an area that could be a determining factor in the heavyweight matchup with the Hubmen.
Class AAAA: Hunter Rodriguez, QB – Waseca
1,440 pass yards, 20 TD-3 INT, 1006 rush yards, 10 rush TD
Rodriguez might be the best quarterback you’ve not heard much about this season. He’s been a big part of the Bluejays’ six-game winning streak that’s included three wins over top-10 teams. He’ll try and notch another on Friday against Winona. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau in both passing and rushing this season, combining for more than 2,400 yards. He’s also combined for 30 touchdowns.
Class AAAAA: Ryan Bieberdorf, WR/DB – Bemidji
51 rec for 1,006 yards, 10 rec TD; five INT
Bieberdorf has been as consistent as any receiver in the state this season, averaging five receptions, 100 yards and a touchdown each week. He posted six games of 100-yards receiving or more, including a 210-yard outburst in the Lumberjacks’ regular-season win over Brainerd. He’s also been a ball hawk at free safety with five interceptions this fall. He’ll likely make an impact on both sides of the ball against Cambridge-Isanti.
Class AAAAAA: Johnny Shabaz, RB – Lakeville South
843 rush yards (6.8 ypc), 6 TD
Shabaz has helped South become the Cinderella story of the entire postseason in Minnesota. The Cougars T-formation offense has been nearly unstoppable over the last four contests — all victories — averaging 47 points per game. Shabaz averaged 10.6 yards per carry on the winning streak, with five touchdowns. The senior running back will be tested by the Woodbury defense on Friday with a spot in the state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium on the line.Lakeville South’s double tight end, T-formation offense has stumped opponents this postseason. (Jim Lindquist/SunThisWeek)
Spring Grove WR vs Russell-Tyler-Ruthton LB/DB
Quarterback Alex Folz and his dual-threat ability makes the Lions offense go, but he’s got a few dynamic weapons at receiver for his disposal too. Receiver Noah Elton leads Spring Grove with has 53 receptions for 678 yards and 10 touchdowns, while 6-foot-3 Ethan Matzke has eight scores and is a tough matchup in the red zone.
The Hansen brothers (no, not those Hanson brothers) will be the likely matchups for the Lions skill players. Carter Hansen leads Russell-Tyler Ruthton with 110 tackles and seven interceptions. He’s also the Knights all-time leading receiver on offense. Cooper Hansen is right behind his brother defensively with 109 tackles and three picks. Cooper is also the team’s quarterback, throwing for 2,558 yards and 32 touchdowns this season.
Mahnomen-Waubun Rush O vs Deer River Rush D
Deer River must find a way to slow Mahnomen-Waubun’s punishing running game to have any chance of winning the Class A quarterfinal game. It’s not going to be an easy task. The Thunderbirds are averaging nearly 375 rushing yards per game this season. They possess a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in running back Parker Syverson and quarterback Jon Starkey. Both players are averaging more than seven yards per carry and have combined for 29 total touchdowns.
The Warriors defense has been improving all season. After surrendering 86 points in the first three games of the season, the team has allowed only 36 points in its last six contests. Senior defensive tackle Frank Villenueve anchors the Warriors up front, while junior Trevor Michienzi (60 tackles, three FR, two INT) does a little bit of everything at linebacker
Minneapolis North O vs Redwood Valley D
The Polars and Cardinals boast two of the top-three scoring defenses in Class AA. The other side of the ball is a different story. North is second only to Paynesville is scoring offense, averaging 45.8 points per game.
The Polars have two talented receivers in Omar Brown and Nasir El-Amin, but their offense is predicated on running the football. Kehyan Porter leads the team with 938 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Brown (456 yards, 20.7 ypc) and El-Amin (321 yards 9.7 ypc) have added a dimension to the ground game outside the tackles.
Redwood Valley’s defense has answered the call in each of its close games this season. The Cardinals stopped Pipestone Area on a potential game-winning 2-pt conversion with no time remaining to win the Section 3AA final last week. They did the same in overtime against the Arrows in the regular season and also posted five shutouts – tying for the most in program history. Defensive lineman Corbin Wabasha and Chad Maddock set the tone for the entire unit.
Annandale Pass O vs Pierz Pass D
The Pioneers are gunning for their fifth-straight trip to the Class AAA semifinals, while the Cardinals are looking to advance to U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time. With a scoring offense and defense that both rank in the top three, the defending champs are the favorites again this year in Class AAA.
Pierz’s pass defense will be tested in the quarterfinals, however, against an Annandale team that Leo Pohlkamp’s squad defeated three times over the course of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The Pioneers allowed an average of 10 points per game in those victories.
A repeat performance will be need against the Cardinals this weekend. Senior Reese Kapsner is the leader of the Pierz secondary with six interceptions and 50 total tackles. Annandale QB Peyton Fobbe has had a breakout season, leading the team in both rushing and passing. The senior has thrown for nearly 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns, while also gaining 695 yards on the ground, with nine scores. Containing him is a must for Pierz to advance.Can Annandale’s Peyton Fobbe make enough plays to dethrone Class AAA defending champion Pierz? (Matt Kane/Delano Herald Journal)
Delano OL vs SMB DL
Delano began the season with high expectations largely because of its veteran offensive line. The Tigers returned four of their five blockers, including All-District guard Spencer Poll. Junior quarterback Max Otto emerged to boost the passing game, setting a school-record for yards this season, but Friday’s contest with SMB will be decided up front.
By now you’ve probably heard about the big-time recruits on SMB, but the stout defensive line is what makes this defense special. The Wolfpack have surrendered less than 10 points per game, which is second-best in Class AAAA. They have not allowed an opponent to score more than 15 points in a game with two shutouts, including one against fellow state tournament qualifier St. Paul Johnson.
Senior DE Andrew Mollison has 88 tackles, with a whopping 24 for loss. Sophomore DT Kevvan Anderson is tied for the team lead in sacks with five. Anderson could be the next SMB player to earn some Division-I interest.
Owatonna Rush O vs Chaska Rush D
Jason Williamson has already earned the second-most rushing yards in Minnesota high school football history, earning more than 6,300 as he begins the final weeks of his varsity career. That’s likely where he’ll finish, barring a trio of unbelievable performances in the Class AAAAA State Tournament, beginning with Chaska on Saturday. The Huskies offensive line, led by Zach Wiese, has been improving all season, which is a big reason why Williamson is averaging over 16 yards per carry in his last three contests.
The Hawks have one of the most battle-tested defenses remaining in the entire state. They’ve surrendered an average of less than 80 rushing yards per contest. That rate right where Mankato West’s prolific running game ended up in Chaska’s Section 2AAAAA victory on Friday. Linebacker Marcus Holasek leads Bryan Dahl’s defense with 87 tackles, while Stevo Klotz has filled the stat sheet with 68 stops, including 12 for loss, along with five sacks, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Eastview OL vs Blaine DL
Kelly Sherwin’s Eastview squad has been remarkably balanced this season offensively, rushing for 1,324 yards while passing for 1,616. Much of that has to do his offensive line’s ability to both run and pass block. Tyrell Jones is a 6-foot-4, 320-pounder who is sets the edge at tackle, while interior linemen like Josh Lesch lead the way, blocking on rollout passes or inside running plays for dynamic running back Quintcy Suggs.
Blaine’s defensive line has been the foundation of its stellar unit the entire season. Lucas Becker leads the team with five sacks and eight tackles for loss, routinely commanding double teams in the process. Chris Logan is also tough to move on the inside, while Hakeem Sidibe has flourished in his hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position. How the Lightning account for the Bengals strength up front will determine which team advances to the Class AAAAAA semifinals.