Cardinals storm past Warriors to advance to state semifinals

Published 12:35 am Friday, November 12, 2021

ST. PAUL  — Things didn’t start out perfect for the Cardinals, but it ended in celebration as LeRoy-Ostrander used a giant push in the second quarter to upend Wheaton/Herman-Norcross by a score of 57-26 in the Minnesota Class Nine Man quarterfinals on a snowy night at Macalester College Thursday.

WHN (9-3 overall) led 6-0 after the first quarter and the Warriors took a 12-7 lead when Clint Determan hauled in a 15-yard pass from Zachary Braaten with 9:23 left in the second quarter, but the Cardinals dominated from that point on as they would score the game’s next five TDs. 

L-O (10-2 overall) will now get to play at US Bank Stadium next week, which isn’t a bad feat for a school that didn’t field a varsity team six years ago and hadn’t played in a state tournament game since 2004.

“It’s a dream come true,” L-O senior Hayden Sass said. “Win or lose next week, I’m going to bring my best, but just to come this far is something that a lot of people in our area used to never think we could do. We were the laughing stock of the conference and now we’re the best in the conference. It’s amazing.”

L-O took control in the second quarter due to the play of senior quarterback Chase Johnson, who hit Tristan Lewison for a 40-yard pass down the sideline for TD that made it 15-12 with 8:27 left in the half. Tanner Olson used a 34-yard TD run to put the Cards up 23-12 with 3:04 left in the half, and the Cards went 53 yards in just over a minute to close the half on a five-yard TD pass from Johnson to Layne Bird that made it 29-12.

Johnson, who also ran for 319 yards and two scores, only threw eight times, but three of those throws went for over 15 yards. His first pass of the game was intercepted, but that was his last mistake.

“We just stuck with the plan,” L-O head coach Trevor Carrier said. “This was a big game at a weird sight against an opponent where we weren’t really sure what they were going to do on defense. Once we figured it out, we started picking them apart a bit. Chase threw the ball well and they were blitzing off the edge. We knew if we could block the edge, we’d get a one-on-one on the outside.”

Lewison finished with 100 yards receiving and he also pulled in a key interception on the defensive side of the ball.

“I had it in my mind that I could have some big plays, but I wasn’t sure they would come. Chase is pretty good and he can throw that ball precisely. I didn’t have to break stride at all,” Lewison said. “We’re all brothers. I don’t want to let the seniors down and they don’t want to stop playing. We’re going as far as we can this year.”

L-O’s defense started off a little slow, but the team eventually found its rhythm as Gavin Sweeney had 2.5 sacks and Olson, who ran for 145 yards and four scores, had a half a sack. Sass played defensive tackle between those two and had his motor running in full gear all night long.

“You have to use your arms to shed blocks, find the ball and hit,” Sass said. “It’s dirty in the trenches, but it’s got to get done. (Olson and Sweeney) are absolutely amazing. They are hogs. We wouldn’t be the same without those two.”

The Cardinals will play either Kittson County Central or Ogilvie at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 18, in US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in the state semifinals. 

“We didn’t have a team six years ago and we went through so much hardship,” Carrier said. “We’ve had dedication, heart and leadership from our captains.”

L-O 0 29 14  12  —  57

WHN 6  6   0   14  —  26

First quarter

(W) Bryant Callenius 44 pass from Zachary Braaten (kick blocked) (3 plays, 44 yards) 3:53

Second quarter

(LO) Chase Johnson 6 run (Sweeney kick) (9 plays, 80 yards) 11:55

(W) Clint Determan 15 pass from Braaten (pass failed) (6 plays, 52 yards) 9:23

(LO) Tristan Lewison 40 pass from Chase Johnson (Bird from Johnson) (3 plays, 55 yards) 8:27

(LO) Tanner Olson 34 run (Olson run) (6 plays, 72 yards) 3:04

(LO) Layne Bird 5 pass from Johnson (pass failed) (5 plays, 53 yards)

Third quarter

(LO) Olson 1 run (Johnson run) (7 plays, 59 yards) 7:54

(LO) Olson 6 run (run failed) (7 plays, 52 yards) 2:18

Fourth quarter

(W) Andrew Walker Hannemann 21 pass from Braaten (pass failed) (8 plays, 66 yards) 11:33

(LO) Johnson 51 run (Johnson run) (4 plays, 60 yards) 10:24

(LO) Olson 19 run (kick failed) (6 plays, 70 yards) 5:38

(W) Determan 16 pass from Braaten (Callenius from Braaten) (11 plays, 65 yards) 1:14

LO STATS

Rushing: Chase Johnson, 24-for-319, 2 TDs; Tanner Olson, 19-for-145, 4 TDs; Layne Bird, 1-for-(-2)

Passing: Chase Johnson, 6-for-8, 110, 2 TDs, INT

Receiving: Lewison, 4-for-100, TD; Layne Bird, 1-for-5, TD; Gavin Sweeney, 1-for-5

Defense: Gavin Sweeney, 2.5 sacks; Tanner Olson, .5 sack; Tristan Lewison, 1 interception; Chase Johnson, 1 interception

Penalties: 7-for-50

WHN STATS

Rushing: 61

Passing: 232

Penalties: 7-for-35