Cardinals slam the door on Bearcats in state semifinals

Published 3:19 pm Thursday, November 18, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS — The Cardinals did something they haven’t accomplished all year long when they dominated on the defensive end to earn a 49-0 shutout win over Kittson County Central in the Minnesota Class Nine Man State Tournament semifinals in U.S. Bank Stadium Thursday.

KCC’s Ozzie Meyer-Rice and Chisum Schmeideberg each had over 1,300 yards rushing headed into the game, but L-O held them to just 68 rushing yards combined as the Cardinals owned the line of scrimmage.

“I didn’t really expect a shutout, but we played defense really well throughout the game,” L-O lineman Gavin Sweeney said. “When you play defense like that, it’s hard for them to score.”

KCC (10-3 overall) has its offense built around the running game, but L-O head coach Trevor Carrier knew his team would be ready as the Cardinals have played physical teams all year.

“That was fun. I thought we played very well and our defensive game plan was very stout against two good running backs,” Carrier said. “The defensive line really set the tone. We saw a lot of good backs in our section like Lanesboro’s JT Rein and Grand Meadow’s Dusty Copley and we were up to the challenge. It was a tremendous win.”

L-O’s offense also had a big day after a big catch by Layne Bird on the opening drive set up the ground game. Chase Johnson ran for 229 yards and three scores for L-O (11-2 overall) and Tanner Olson added 111 yards and three TDs.

Olson only started playing running back in the final game of the regular season for the Cardinals.

“We don’t get a lot of sleep and we’re always thinking about situations. We knew we could get that wheel route right away on Layne on the first drive. That got the drive going and after that it was off to the races for the offense,” Carrier said. “Tanner gives us a one-two punch with Chase. We are now a run-run option team, depending on which way we want to go.”

Johnson broke the game open with a 49-yard run that put the Cards up 43-0 in the third, but a lot of his runs were between the tackles and hard earned.

“The offensive line is awesome. They’re the reason I get the yards that I get and they’re always there for me,” Johnson said. “With Tanner next to me, not every team can load the box on me. They have to worry about him too.”

The Cardinals are now playing in their first Prep Bowl since 1995 and they are pursuing the school’s first state title in any sport in school history. L-O was runner-up in football in 95 and 93.

L-O will play Fertile-Beltrami or Hills-Beaver Creek in the Prep Bowl at 9 a.m. on Nov. 19, at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Cardinals now know what the atmosphere is like in U.S. Bank Stadium and they’ll surely feel even more intensity in the Prep Bowl. Sweeney had been to the big stadium just once before Thursday and said it was something to behold.

“Stepping out on the field is a different level. It’s crazy to play on,” Sweeney said. “Once you start playing, you don’t really think about what’s going on around you, but you take a look around and your whole town is there. It’s a great feeling.”

The Cardinals lost to Grand Meadow and Lanesboro in the regular season, but bounced back to beat them both in the postseason. That has Carrier and the Cardinals feeling pretty confident.

“We got beat twice this year and thankfully did,” Carrier said. “We got to see a lot of corrections that we needed to make and we made those corrections.”

SCORING SUMMARY

Kittson 0   0  0  0  –  0

LeRoy-Ostrander 16  12 15 6  –  49

First quarter

(LO) Chase Johnson 2 run (Johnson run) (5 plays, 68 yards) 10:18

(LO) Johnson 8 run (Johnson run) (11 plays, 74 yards) 5:00

Second quarter

(LO) Tanner Olson 1 run (run failed) (7 plays, 29 yards) 3:10

(LO) Olson 6 run (kick failed) (8 plays, 50 yards) 4:30

Third quarter

(LO) Olson 5 run (Johnson run) (7 plays, 66 yards) 3:25

(LO) Johnson 49 run (Sweeney kick) (6 plays, 83 yards) 2:24

(LO) Hungerholt 5 run (run failed) (12 plays, 96 yards) 8:29

Fourth quarter

(LO) Camden Hungerholt 5 run (12 plays) 1:04

L-O STATS

Rushing: Chase Johnson, 21-for-229, 3 TDs; Tanner Olson, 22-for-111, 3 TDs; Layne Bird, 7-for-56; Carson Roe, 2-for-9, Camden Hungerholt, 1-for-5, TD

Passing: Johnson, 4-for-6, 66

Receiving: Bird, 2-for-38; Gavin Sweeney, 2-for-28

Defense: Sweeney, 8 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss; Tanner Olson, 8 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss; Camden Hungerholt, 1 interception

Penalties: 3-for-30

KCC STATS

Rushing: 63

Passing: 128

Penalties: 1-for-5