Polars headed to State

Polar seniors Sam Rousseau Syring (8) and Louie Varland (11) attempt to stop down Mahtomedi’s Lucas Honebrink (26) in the second quarter Section 4 Class 5A final. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Polar seniors Sam Rousseau Syring (8) and Louie Varland (11) attempt to stop down Mahtomedi’s Lucas Honebrink (26) in the second quarter Section 4 Class 5A final. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
North High senior running back Isaiah Koran (16) perseveres for a touchdown against Mahtomedi in the first quarter. The Polars won the Section 4 Class 5A final 16-10 at home Oct. 24. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
North High senior running back Isaiah Koran (16) perseveres for a touchdown against Mahtomedi in the first quarter. The Polars won the Section 4 Class 5A final 16-10 at home Oct. 24. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

North’s close win over Mahtomedi lifts team to next level

North 16 - Mahtomedi 10

When asked if he knew when the North High Polars had last advanced to the state football tournament, an energized Eric Longtin replied, “It was in 1998, but I don’t remember the game. I was in Texas at the time.”

The North head coach had every reason to be excited. His team had just won the Section 4 title game to gain a spot in the Minnesota State Football Tournament in Class 5A.

In a tight contest Saturday, Oct. 24, North managed to run past Mahtomedi, 16-10, at Polar Field. North is now 8-2 and will face St. Thomas Academy, 9-1, in the Class 5A tournament quarterfinals on Friday, Oct. 30.

“Today we just wanted to get it done. This team has carried us through the entire season,” Longtin said.

St. Thomas will be a familiar foe; the Polars lost a regular-season game to the Cadets, 35-14, on Aug. 28.

“The kids are having fun now,” Longtin said as he watched his players celebrate. “It doesn’t matter who we play next. I’m happy to just be there.”

He continued, “The kids played the whole game. We had a good attitude that every time [Mahtomedi] did something good, we just said, ‘We’ll get them next time; we’ll get them next time.’ And the kids did that.”

Mahtomedi coach Dave Muetzel was gracious after the Zephyrs’ tough loss. “We played hard, and North St. Paul played hard, too. It was a close, hard-fought game.

“I just told our kids both teams won today. I was proud of them. It was a close, hard-fought game right to the end, and North St. Paul just scored more points than we did. No team really lost.” 

It was the second time the teams had met this season. The first game, back on Oct. 25, was a similar war between the rivals. In game one, during the regular season, the Polars topped the Zephyrs by nearly the same margin, 14-10. 

Fifth-seed Mahtomedi won the right to play in the section finals by defeating first-seed SBM (a cooperative team of players from St. Paul Academy, Blake and Minnehaha Academy) a 10-7 setback.

The Polars drew first blood in the game, which took place on a cool, pleasant autumn afternoon. Senior running back Isaiah Koran broke free into the end zone from the Mahtomedi 6-yard line for a touchdown. The Zephyrs smothered the extra-point attempt, so with just 2:31 remaining in the first quarter, North was up 6-0.

Early in the second quarter the Zephyrs capitalized on a drive when junior quarterback Anthony Praml put a nice pass into the wide-open hands of sophomore Adam Devore, who waltzed into the end zone from 34 yards out. The PAT by Chase Sullivan was true, and the Zephyrs — just 2:28 into the quarter — moved to a slim 7-6 lead.

When a North drive was stopped, the Polars elected to go for a field goal. Ywg Xeng Lor booted the ball 25 yards and with 3:04 remaining in the second quarter, North regained the lead, 9-7.

The Polars recovered a fumble at their 1-yard line. They drove the ball out of danger, but the Mahtomedi defense held. A short punt gave they Zephyrs the ball at the North 35.

A drive carried them to the North 10-yard line but with time running out on the half, Sullivan came on and booted a 27-yard field goal to give Mahtomedi a 10-9 margin heading into the halftime intermission.

In the third quarter, the Polars had another drive that culminated with Koran breaking across the goal line from 12 yards. Lor made good on the extra point and North retook the lead — this time for good — at 16-10.

The teams battled through the final 12 minutes with neither team gaining an advantage, and the Polars began a celebration that will carry them into their first football state tournament in 17 years.

 In the game, the Polars had 198 yards on 48 plays from scrimmage, while the Zephyrs picked up 200 total yards on 53 plays.

In the game Koran had 129 yards, while Mahtomedi’s T.J. Tumbleson had 34. In passing yards, North’s quarterback Jim Bothwell completed two of three attempts for 18 yards. Mahtomedi’s Praml passed 18 times for 120 yards on six completions.

After losing their first two games this season, the Polars have put together a string of eight straight wins.

The two Metro East Conference foes — St. Thomas and North — will square off at 7 p.m. Oct. 30, at a neutral site, Woodbury High School.

Simley 33 - Hill-Murray 13

The Pioneers traveled Oct. 20 to Simley for a Section 4 Class 4A football semifinal contest and took it on the chin to the tune of 33-13.

The Spartans wasted no time in establishing themselves as a dominant force, scoring the first 33 points of the game.

In the opening quarter Jamie Warrick went into the end zone from 12 yards out. Brad Rechtzigel put the PAT through the uprights for a 7-0 margin.

Next it was Jack Warrick who fell on the ball in the Hill-Murray end zone for a two-point safety.

Following the Hill-Murray punt after the safety, the Spartans went on a drive that culminated with a 17-yard run by Jamie Warrick, and with Rechtzigel’s boot the score at the half was 16-0 Simley.

In the third quarter Jamie Warrick found Jake Binley for an 11-yard aerial strike and a TD. Rechtzigel’s PAT pushed the score to 23-0.

Play moved into the fourth stanza and the score mounted for the Spartans when Joe Matthews pulled down a 13-yard pass from Jamie Warrick. The PAT advanced the Simley margin to 30-0.

The Spartans’ final score came after a drive bogged at the Hill-Murray 23-yard line. Rechtzigel kicked a 40-yard field goal through the uprights for a 33-0 leeway.

The Pioneers avoided a shutout when Randy Clintsman put the ball across the goal line on a 1-yard run. A try for two-points failed, and the count read 33-6.

Clintsman scored again from 1 yard out, and when Charlie Orloske booted the point after, the final of 33-13 went up on the board.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7826.

 

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