The Gophers’ seniors celebrate. They are, in front from left, Alex Haffner, Dalton Schwier, AJ Riley and Jake Neis. In back are Cody Bly, Jayme LaPlante, Michael Mabe, Nate Skare, Sawyer Prinsen and Brandon Adler
The Gophers’ seniors celebrate. They are, in front from left, Alex Haffner, Dalton Schwier, AJ Riley and Jake Neis. In back are Cody Bly, Jayme LaPlante, Michael Mabe, Nate Skare, Sawyer Prinsen and Brandon Adler
It started Friday night when the Chatfield football team pulled off a 'mild' upset, defeating Caledonia, 13-10, in overtime, advancing the Gophers to the 'big dance', state tournament, and a date with the Jackson County Central Huskies Friday night at the Regional Sports Center, on the campus of RCTC. Chatfield had lost to Caledonia, 19-18, in the first game of the season, so this game was expected to be close from the opening kickoff. The game 'shadowed' predicted 'billing'.

Saturday, Christian Bance finished 17th in the Class A Cross Country Meet, qualifying him for All-state honors in cross-country. The top 25 places at the state meet receive all-state status.

And also on Saturday, the Chatfield volleyball team nearly defeated Kasson-Mantorville in the Section 1AA championship match, losing to the KoMets three games to one, and missing the State Tournament by 'that much'.

Streaks End

Three streaks ended last Friday night with the Chatfield win over Caledonia, in the Class AA football finals...1) the 36 game winning streak for Caledonia is now over. The consecutive win streak started back in 2011, after Caledonia had lost to Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the season opener...2) The Gophers ended a 10-game losing streak to the Warriors, which started back in 2007. The last win over Caledonia was 12-7 during the regular season in 2006...and, 3) The six-year 'run' to the state tournament for the Warriors has ended, thanks to the Gopher overtime win. In Caledonia's six straight trips to the state, they won five state championships.

Chatfield will now play Jackson County Central Friday night, 7:00 p.m., on the campus of RCTC.

The Gophers took the opening kickoff and drove 47 yards in 12 plays, before turning the ball over to Caledonia on a fumble. The Warriors took full advantage of the Chatfield turnover, scoring on their first play on an 80-yard 'aerial strike'. AJ Riley was the Chatfield defender on the long Caledonia pass, and the only reason I mention AJ specifically, is because he will get his vindication on the last play of the game. Also, in defense of the Gopher defender, the Caledonia quarterback threw a 'perfect pass', hitting the receiver 'in stride'.

After an exchange of a few punts, Chatfield got on the board and tied the score at 7-7 when Jake Neis ran 40 yards for a score. Sawyer Prinsen kicked the extra-point for the tie. Chatfield had the last drive of the first half, going 68 yards before missing on a 33-yard field goal. The score was deadlocked 7-7 at the intermission.

All of the scoring in the second half, three points for Caledonia, six for Chatfield, was the result of field goals.

The Warriors took the lead with a 26-yard field goal at the 2:49 mark of the third quarter. Chatfield 'returned the favor' with a 36 yarder of its own (Nate Skare) on their next possession, tying the score at 10-10, one play into the fourth quarter.

Caledonia missed two field goals in the fourth quarter, keeping the score at 10-10 when the buzzer ended regulation play.

Chatfield had the ball first in the overtime. On fourth down, Nate Skare 'booted' a 27-yard field goal, giving the Gophers a 13-10 lead. Caledonia tried a pass on its first possession of the overtime...enter AJ Riley. Riley stepped in front of the intended Caledonia receiver, intercepting the pass, ending the Chatfield drought, and giving the Gopher's a berth in the state tournament, their first since 1999.

Chatfield head coach Jeff Johnson summed up the contest like this..."It was like two heavyweight boxers exchanging punches all night. Each team has great players that took turns making great plays. Proud of our kids resiliency", he concluded.

Neis ended up with 129 rushing yards on 26 carries in the game, including the 40-yard 'scamper' in the second quarter. Alex Bradt carried eight times for 35 yards and Nate Skare ended the night with 21 rushing yards on five carries. Alex Haffner (-4 yds.) and Jayme LaPlante (8 yds.) had one carry each in the overtime win.

In the passing department, Nate Skare was 5/11, 93 yards, including a longest throw of 44 yards to Drew Hurley. Hurley had two other receptions, for a total of 83 yards. LaPlante and Neis had one catch each for six and four yards, respectively.

Team scoring

Chatfield 0-7-0-3-3 = 13

Caledonia 7-0-3-0- = 10

Team stats

Chatfield Caledonia

First downs 10 13

Rushing 41 carries, 189 yds. 36 carries, 133 yds.

1 TD, 1 lost fumble 0 TD's, 0 fumbles lost

Passing 5/11, 93 yds. 9/16, 180 yds.

0 INT, 0 TD's 1 TD, 1 INT

Total offense 52 plays, 282 yds. 52 plays, 313 yds.

Penalties 6, 50 yds. 5, 35 yds.

Turnovers 1(fumble) 1(INT)

Individual stats...Rushing: Jake Neis, 26/129; Alex Bradt, 8/35; Nate Skare, 5/21; Alex Haffner, 1/-4; Jayme LaPlante, 1/8. Passing: Skare, 5/11, 93 yds. Receiving: LaPlante, 1/6; Drew Hurley, 3/83; Neis, 1/4. Special teams: Skare (field goals, 2/3; punting, 4/35.3; kickoffs, 3/53.7); Neis (ko returns, 2/19.0; punt return, 1/10.0); AJ Riley (kickoff return, 1/11.0)