|11/13/2017 10:18:00 AM|
Vikings battle Crusaders, clock in final game
There is an old saying in sports that sometimes you don't lose a game. You just run out of time.
Mount Horeb/Barneveld was in that position Friday against #2 seed Catholic Memorial in Level 3 of the WIAA Division 3 playoffs and unfortunately, time was not on their side.
The Crusaders controlled the score and eventually the clock then survived a challenge from the #3 seeded Vikings, 26-20.
The Vikings got an up close look at UW-Madison recruit C. J. Goetz, a 6-3, 205 linebacker who had one main job Friday. Stop Malik Winston.
Winston, a solid running back saw the no trespassing and lane closure signs put up by Goetz and his teammates was limited to 86 hard fought yards on 28 carries and he was shut out of the scoring column.
MHB coach Ryan Kleppe knew what to expect but negating it was a different story
"Seeing them on film, we knew that their linebackers flowed as fast and as well as any team we had faced this year and they didn't disappoint," said Kleppe. "Goetz, made sure they were downhill very quickly and made the lanes that Malik normally has had this year shrink almost instantaneously. We had to be great with our vision up front and make sure that we sealed some edges consistently and their defensive ends and outside linebackers made that tough to do all night."
"We also knew that they played off quite a bit on the edge in the secondary and so we took advantage of that through some quick passing game and getting the ball on the edge in that fashion," Kleppe said. "It's always a chess match to try and mix things up enough to keep defenses honest throughout the game and I thought we did a solid job against a team of their caliber."
With Malik bottled up chances to score fell on senior quarterback Luke Hagelin and he more than answered the call with 17 completions on 26 attempts for 174 yards. He was bounced hard often but stayed with the plan, throwing three touchdown passes.
Hagelin combined with senior Tyler Crubaugh for a 50 yard score at 10:47 in the first quarter. He followed with a pair of scoring strikes to Travis Klassy, one a 10 yarder in the second quarter and the last a four yarder with 2:47 left in the game.
Kleppe had plenty of praise for the gutty Hagelin.
"That dude is tough as nails," Kleppe said about Hagelin. "He showed a ton of heart and was ultimately selfless for the sake of his teammates all night long. He was taking some shots, but continued to stick in the pocket and make tough throws while also putting his shoulder down and getting every yard he could in the running game. I am so proud to see him develop throughout the year and made some critical plays to keep us in that game."
The Crusaders scored three times on passes from Ben Nimz. Luke Fox caught two of them, one at 7:41 and one at 4:38 of the first quarter.
After being tied at 13 both teams battled until Tate Kopulos broke loose with 19 seconds left in the third.
Nimz then hit Goetz with a 14 yard strike for what proved to be the game winner.
The final Hagelin to Klassy scoring pass came late in the game to put the Vikings in a position to win but they couldn't fight both the Crusaders and the clock.
Kleppe knew the Vikings had the heart to have a shot.
"Our group was doing what they have done all year long and that is fighting for each other and literally emptying everything they have in the tank on that field," Kleppe said. "We had an emotional talk in the locker room at halftime knowing that some guys weren't going to be able to go in the second half. Everyone is going to have to play more snaps than they're used to---find a way to get the job done. We needed to protect the football, take the ball away and hit some shots when we had the chance."
"I cannot be more proud of a group than what they showed on the field," Kleppe added. "The defense got some critical stops, Caden Lee had a huge interception return. Klassy is catching balls with essentially use of only one arm and Hagelin is putting the ball into tight windows....I really thought when we got the ball back that we were going to go down and win the game--unfortunately it wasn't meant to be."
Kleppe felt the praise for playing a solid game should be shared.
"It's about the entire crew in a game like that," he said. "You're always going to have guys who get into the box score and get the accolades, but Luke doesn't make those plays without our O-Line, tight ends and wide receivers doing their job. Our linebackers aren't able to flow fast and make tackles without our D-Line filling their gaps and doing their job. "I'm just so proud of everyone on our team for that performance. Whether it was the scout team being selfless in their work to prepare us this week, special teams players doing their job or reserve players preparing themselves to get snaps when injuries occur, it is an entire program effort and I'm proud of this entire group. "
The solid game ended the season for the Vikings.
"I cannot thank our senior group enough for their full commitment to this MHB program,"Kleppe said. "Last year left a sour taste in our mouth after being so close to winning that playoff game and so a lot of those to-be seniors dedicated themselves to our off-season program to be physically prepared to make an impact and did they ever. They busted their tails day in and day out and kept each other accountable during that process. They showed a lot of people in the state what MHB is all about and that we can compete with anyone in the state in Division 3. I hope the returning players remember this feeling and use that as fuel to prepare themselves for next year."
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