PREP FOOTBALL: Dutchmen declaw Wolverines
MARSHALL -- DC Claar didn't sleep much Thursday night.
"I probably woke up three times and stayed up for a half an hour to an hour," said Claar, who is a junior on Edgerton/Ellsworth's football game. "I fell back asleep, wondering if it was game time yet. I was so anxious for this game.
"I was more anxious than nervous. Coach told us, it's like taking a test. You have to be prepared and we were prepared. I wasn't nervous at all and we were ready to play."
From the opening drives, the Dutchmen proved they were ready.
After E/E stopped the Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley offense on the first possession, the Dutchmen offense marched down the field for a quick touchdown and an early lead.
That was as close as Friday's Section 3 9-man championship game was all day.
E/E took control early and rolled to a 30-8 victory Friday at Mattke Field on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University to qualify for the state tournament for the second consecutive season.
"It feels great," E/E running back Blake Jouwstra said. "I can't explain it. I didn't think we were going to win by this much."
C-G-B came with sporting a powerful running attack, but the E/E defense kept the Wolverines in check.
"We've been working real hard in practice on stopping that run," E/E's Devin Hulstein said. "I don't know many times our scouting offense ran dives and counters all of practice. We worked hard all week."
C-G-B had a mere 68 yards in the first half.
"They are a powerhouse running team," E/E senior Casey Schilling said. "They don't throw the football, they are just a smash mouth team. Our line did a great job and our linebackers filled in great. Our defense really won us this game."
The Wolverines finished with 266 yards in the game, but minus one long run, weren't able to have many sustained drives.
"I think with this group of guys, they work hard and something we talk about every week is that we want to be nervous on Wednesdays and Thursdays and practice hard and practice with some fear," E/E head coach Andrew Fleischman said. "Then on Fridays, just relax and play. We know no matter what would have happened on Saturday and what would have happened today, we've done all the work we can do. There would be no regrets. If we get beat, it won't be because we didn't work hard.
"Test anxiety generally is for people who didn't study. And we studied. We just had to relax and play and have fun and enjoy it. It's a beautiful field, the crowd was here and we had a great crowd. It's an exciting day. We say, we just hope all the hard work leads to some memories and today is a good one, obviously."
Meanwhile, E/E was able to move the ball with ease.
Hulstein led the Dutchmen with 89 yards rushing on 12 carries.
"It's his best game of the year," Fleischman said. "He did a good job. He was patient and kind of let that ally develop. Once that ally developed, he hit it hard and made some big plays. He had a really nice catch on our second touchdown drive against the wind that was a really, really big play. It was pretty exciting for us."
E/E had 321 yards of total offense on the day.
"I thought I did pretty good and coach gave me the ball," Hulstein said. "I had some great pulling linemen. DC pulls for me on every run and Blake Jouwstra is always there, too. They make a good hole for me to run behind."
Jouwstra added 46 yards rushing and Derek Voge had 51.
"The line did great," Jouwstra said. "We had huge holes to run through, it's easy."
The Dutchmen kicked off to start the game, and immediately made a defensive stand. C-G-B went three-and-out and had to punt.
On the E/E ensuing possession, Hulstein ripped off a 19-yard run on the first play.
"It was great," Hulstein said. "I had a good run right away behind some great blocking. A couple plays later, we got in the end zone."
Three plays later, Hulstein capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run, giving the Dutchmen the lead. Isaac Heard (12-for-18 passing, 135 yards) completed the two-point conversion to Schilling, giving E/E an 8-0 lead.
"We talked about if we could come out right away and set the tone early, our day would be a lot easier," Fleischman said. "For us to shut down their run and run the ball right down the field on them was huge for us."
Claar made a big hit on the first play of C-G-B's next drive as the Wolverines were again forced to punt.
E/E wasn't able to move the ball on its second possession, but the defense forced a third consecutive punt on the next drive.
Taking the ball on the C-G-B 37, E/E was again able to sustain a drive.
Heard completed a pass to Hulstein (four receptions, 35 yards) for six yards to start the drive. The quarterback scrambled for a big 20 yard gain, and three plays later, Schilling (six receptions, 63 yards) caught a four-yard touchdown strike. Jouwstra ran in the conversion, pushing the lead to 16-0.
"We came in ready to play," Claar said. "All you heard about was how they were stronger and faster and that kind of fueled us to get a faster start than normal. Coach said we had to get a fast start, and we did. Times got tough, but we came back and hit them harder next time."
The Dutchmen forced another Wolverine punt early in the second quarter before the offense embarked on a long drive.
E/E began the possession on its own 17-yard line and needed 14 plays to march down the field. Johnny Menning (two catches, 37 yards) had a key 18-yard reception on the drive.
Mixing passing and running plays, E/E used nearly seven minutes of clock. The drive was capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Heard to Schilling.
"They were in a cover three, so it was a little difficult," Schilling said. "But when you have those windows, you have to hit them. Isaac did a pretty good job of throwing me the football. With the wind right now, we did a really good job."
Neither team scored in the final minutes as E/E had a 22-0 lead at halftime.
"We were pleasantly surprised," Fleischman said. "We were very excited about it. It was just a credit to how we played. We did a lot of really good things out there. Defensively, our d-line played great all day and our linebackers filled. On offense, we did a good job of sealing some holes. We had some nice passing plays and it's nice to watch it all kind of come together like that."
The Wolverines scored their only touchdown of the day on their first possession of the second half. Jason Montonye broke free for a 58-yard touchdown run, and Austin Maanum ran in the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 22-8.
"We thought we limit them in big plays," Fleischman said. "We gave up the one big play, but they are a good team and they are going to make plays. Getting the lead right away was huge for us."
But E/E wasn't done.
The Dutchmen continued to move the ball on the ground, having a drive stall inside C-G-B territory late in the third quarter. Leading 22-8 in the fourth, E/E added one final score.
"We didn't want to take our foot off the pedal, we wanted to keep going, no matter what," Claar said. "We out powered them and our line is phenomenal and our backs ran hard. Jouwstra had one heck of a game. It was just great all around."
Jouwstra capped a seven-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 9:38 remaining in the game.
"We like running that wedge," Jouwstra said of the touchdown. "The line just blows everybody up and it's an easy run."
Heard ran in the conversion, giving E/E a 30-8 lead.
The Dutchmen defense made a late goal-line stand, sealing a trip into the state tournament with a section title.
"Back to back championships is great," Claar said. "We're all flying high, but by this time next week, we have to turn the page and get ready for Section 2."
E/E will face Section 2 winner Nicollet at 5 p.m. Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
"We'll go to practice every day and practice hard," Jouwstra said. "Our coaches prepare us very well, so I think we'll do just fine against Nicollet or Madelia."
A year ago, the Flying Dutchmen lost by a single point in overtime in the state quarterfinals.
"We're not going to let that happen this year," Schilling said. "We had that feeling once, it's not happening again."
C-G-B 0 0 8 0 -- 8
E/E 16 6 0 8 -- 30