Cromwell Cards get huge upset to win titleThe first time Cromwell-Wright played McGregor in football this fall, the result was stunning. The second time, the result was stunning for a completely different reason.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The first time Cromwell-Wright played McGregor in football this fall, the result was stunning. The second time, the result was stunning for a completely different reason.
On Oct. 1, the Cardinals were blitzed 34-13 by the Mercuries in McGregor. Last Friday night, the same Cardinals shocked the previously unbeaten and fourth-ranked Mercs 21-0 to earn a berth in this weekend’s state quarterfinals.
“It’s satisfying,” Cardinals coach Jeff Gronner said. “We had a very tough start to the season (Cromwell-Wright lost four of its first six games) and even in those two wins we didn’t play well. It was not a fun first month and a half of the season.”
Since then, though, the senior-laden Cardinals have won four straight games and outscored their opposition 119-30.
Running back Jordan Suhonen, who was injured and held to just 8 yards rushing the first time the two teams met, scored on first-half runs of 1 and 55 yards on the way to a 177-yard night. Cromwell-Wright built a 14-0 lead in the second quarter and finished things off on a 1-yard plunge by Mike Hedin before the half.
Meanwhile, Cromwell-Wright’s defense throttled the state’s second-highest scoring team.
“I didn’t expect a shutout,” Gronner said. “Coming into the game I was confident we could win, if we played like we had been playing. But, to expect our team to shut out an opponent averaging 48 points a game, well, I didn’t expect that.”
The Cardinals’ defense starts eight seniors, and as a result they were well familiar with the Mercuries’ offense.
“We play them a lot,” Gronner said. “We just repped their main plays over and over in practice. The first time we played them they threw the ball a lot and it killed us since we didn’t have a pass rush. This time we sacked their quarterback three times and made him uncomfortable a lot of other times.”
Cromwell-Wright’s control of the line of scrimmage made all the difference.
“Their line controlled us the first time, but this time we dominated them,” Gronner said. “We played much, much better.”
The win earned the Cardinals a berth in the state tournament, with a quarterfinal matchup against Mountain Iron-Buhl (10-1) on Saturday at Duluth’s Public Schools Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
The Rangers lost to Floodwood early in the season but have since reeled off seven straight wins including a forfeit against Babbitt-Embarrass. They steamrolled eighth-ranked Cook 28-6 last week in the Section 7 title game.
“We are familiar with them (MI-B),” Gronner said. “We played them this summer in a passing tournament and they have good speed and the best player on the field in (quarterback) Ryan Buria. He runs the option very well. We’re close to playing as well as we can, but if we play like we did on Friday I like our chances against anybody.”