The team celebrating with their trophy after the championship win.  SAM CLEMENS/CHATFIELD NEWS
The team celebrating with their trophy after the championship win. SAM CLEMENS/CHATFIELD NEWS
For the fourth time in school history, the Chatfield Gophers are the state football champions. The Chatfield Gophers had to 'wait' 17 years for this most recent state championship, but from what I could tell from the players, fans and's been well worth it. "I'm so proud of these kids", Coach Jeff Johnson told me in an interview for KFIL radio's Coaches Corner. "They've worked so hard, and put in the time needed to get to this point. A great win!" Chatfield defeated Minneota/Lincoln HI, 17-7, and are now 2-0, all-time, against the Vikings. The Gophers first win over the Vikings came back in 1994, in the state Class C quarterfinals, at Minneota.

First quarter....

Chatfield's first two possessions of the game started in Minneota/Lincoln HI territory, but both resulted in 'no points'. Jayme LaPlante recovered a fumble for the second possession. Nate Skare missed a 34 yard field goal concluding the second possession. Just before the end of the first quarter Jake Neis intercepted his first pass. The quarter ended with the score tied at 0-0. Ian Morrison had a tipped pass on defense that forced Minneota into a punt on the Vikings first possession.

Second quarter...

Chatfield got the only score in the first half, a one yard run by Jake Neis. The scoring drive took 2:36, seven plays and covered 65 yards. Highlights of the scoring drive included a 26 yard run by Neis and a 'hook-and-ladder' play from Nate Skare to Drew Hurley, who pitched it to Jake Neis for a 21 yard pickup. Skare kicked the extra-point and the Gophers took a 7-0 lead into the intermission. Defensive highlights in the 2nd quarter included a tackle for loss(Alex Haffner, Dalton Schwier), tipped pass(Morrison) and a quarterback sack(Schwier). Chatfield only had 12 offensive plays in the second quarter.

Third quarter...

Chatfield only had six offensive plays in the entire third quarter. With 5:51 left on the clock, Minneota/Lincoln HI would start a drive that would finish off the third quarter. The Vikings got down to the Chatfield one-yard line when the quarter ended, Chatfield 'hanging on' to a 7-0 lead. Minneota/Lincoldn HI had 16 offensive plays in the quarter, but was still scoreless.

Fourth quarter...

The fourth quarter started with a defensive stop by the Chatfield Gophers on their own one yard line. Brandon Adler is credited with the stop, but a host of defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs came to the aid of Adler and stopped the quarterback sneak with zero yards. That stop, and the ensueing 97 yard drive that ended in a Chatfield field goal, is probably the 'the straw that broke the Vikings back'! Nate Skare 'finished off' the drive with a 19 yard field goal, and a 10-0 lead for the Gophers. Highlight of the drive was a 47 yard pass from Skare to Hurley.

On Minneota/Lincoln HI's next possession, Jake Neis intercepted his second pass, setting up another score for the Gophers. Starting on the Vikings 19 yard line, Chatfield ran seven plays and consumed 2:46, finishing off their final scoring drive with a Nate Skare 'naked rollout' for the final blow. An absolute 'perfect call', that stifled the Minneota defense and solidified the victory for the Chatfield Gophers. Another key play in the drive; on fourth and three, Jayme LaPlante would carry the ball on an 'end around' for a five yard gain and a Gopher first down on the Viking seven yard line.

Minneota/Lincoln HI would score on its final possession, completing seven of 10 passes for their only score of the game. Chatfield was in a 'prevent defense', almost allowing the Vikings to move down the field 'at will', knowing full well that the game was theirs, and the state championship.

Ryan Meeker consumed the final six seconds of the game on the kickoff return following the Vikings only score.

Individual stats...

Rushing: Jake Neis, 24 carries/105 yds, 1 TD; Alex Bradt, 16 carries/69 yards; Jayme LaPlante, one carry/five yards; Nate Skare, 3 carries/-1 yds, 1 TD.

Passing: Skare, 2/7, 68 yds, 1 INT.

Receiving: Drew Hurley, 2 catches, 68 yards; Neis, 0 catches/17 yards(hook-and-ladder play).

Scoring: Neis, one touchdown; Skare, one touchdown, 1 field goal, 2/2 PAT's.

Special teams: Nate Skare(PAT's, 2/2; 1/2 field goals; punting, 3/47.7; kickoffs, 4/58.2, 2 touchbacks); Jake Neis(punt return, 1/9.0; kickoff return, 1/22.0); Ryan Meeker(kickoff return, 1/8.0)

Defensive stats...player, # of tackles(special notes): Drew Hurley, 9; Carter Duxbury, 7; Alex Haffner(1 tackle for loss, 2 pass breakups); Hank Friederichs, 5(1 sack); AJ Riley, 4(1 tackle for loss); Jake Neis, 4(2 INT's, one pass breakup); Dalton Schwier, 3(1 sack); Michael Mabe, 2; Ryan Meeker, 2; Brandon Adler, 2; Jayme LaPlante, 2(1 sack, 1 fumble recovery); Ian Morrison, 1(2 pass breakups); Ethan Wright, 1; and Alex Bradt, 1.

Team stats...

Chatfield Minneota/Lincoln HI

First downs 11 18

Rushing 44 carries/178 yds 28 carries, 62 yds, 1 fum.

Passing 2/7, 68 yds, 1 INT 20/33, 204 yds, 2 INT

Total offense 51 plays, 246 yds 61 plays, 266 yds

Turnovers 1(1 INT) 3(2 INT, 1 fumble)

Penalties 2, 30 yds 1, five yards

Time of poss. 24 min., 14 sec. 23 min., 46 sec.