By Bob San
Maple Grove defeated Coon Rapids 39-14 in a Section 5 football game last Friday.
Coon Rapids was determined to keep the ball out of the hands of the explosive MG offense and started the game by running and controlling the ball the first 10 1/2 minutes.
“They did a good job controlling the ball and put us behind the eight ball a little bit,” Maple Grove coach Matt Lombardi said. “But we played with a little more urgency in the second quarter.”
The Crimson finally were able to stop Coon Rapids and their offense went to work in the second quarter and scored 20 points, including 13 in the final 2 1/2 minutes before halftime to break the game open. They added 19 points in the third to seal the win.
For the game, the Crimson had only 26 snaps on offense but they made good use of their possessions. Jack Wallick had a huge night with 142 yards on 19 carries and four touchdowns. Blake Skaja completed seven of 12 passes for 131 yards and Brycen Wojta had five catches for 50 yards and one touchdown.
“We ran the ball a lot better and that’s the part that’s most pleasing,” Lombardi said. “I think going into the playoffs we knew we had to get better with the running game and we did a much better job doing it.”
The Crimson now host Minnetonka at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, for the right to play at the state tournament in the Metrodome next week.
“It will be fun. I think if you asked the public it’s probably one of the bigger games that Maple Grove has had in a long time,” Lombardi said. “Minnetonka has a great program and coach Nelson does a great job with them. They played a very tough schedule. They lost to Edina in overtime and lost to Wayzata in a close game. They are a great opponent but they are an opponent we look forward to playing. We have to play our best game and we will prepare and try to do that.”
The Crimson will be seeking the school’s fourth state berth and the first since 2002. They have worked hard to produce a fine season and are now one win from state and the Dome.
“Really our main goal since the beginning of the season is to be good enough that at the end you are one of the teams with a shot,” Lombardi said. “We have gotten to that point and we have to take advantage of the situation we have.”
The winner advances to the state tournament at the Metrodome either next Thursday or Friday. Drawings for the state tournament will take place after Friday’s game.