Lumberjacks out of playoffs after overtime lossPlaying with a slightly torn ligament in his right knee, Sean Kedrowski returned for overtime before his final fourth-down pass was deflected in a 35-29 loss to Princeton in a Section 7AAAA semifinal Saturday afternoon at Bromberg Field.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – Within the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Cloquet senior Sean Kedrowski suffered a potential season-ending knee injury. Still, the quarterback made sure his team didn’t finish flat.
Playing with a slightly torn ligament in his right knee, Kedrowski returned for overtime before his final fourth-down pass was deflected in a 35-29 loss to Princeton in a Section 7AAAA semifinal Saturday afternoon at Bromberg Field.
“The trainer wanted me to sit out, but I could run on it, so there was no way I was going to do that,” said Kedrowski, a 6-foot, 185-pound left-hander. “It’s now just sad to think that my football career is over and that I’ll never get to play another snap with those guys again.”
On his last snap, Kedrowski rolled to his left to buy time while he looked for senior teammates Kaleb Kadelbach and Nate Niemi in the end zone, but Michael Simonson of Princeton batted the ball down for victory. Kedrowski then laid face down in the turf, as his career came to a close.
“I was looking for Kaleb, then saw Nick, threw it in and [Princeton] just made a good play,” said Kedrowski, who finished 9-of-20 for 183 yards, two touchdowns and an interception Saturday. “There were a few plays we didn’t execute on and they came back to bite us. We played a good football game, but I guess you can’t win them all.”
Princeton (6-4) didn’t win any games in 2010 and 2011, but made their way to Friday’s section finals to face No. 1-seeded Hermantown. Trailing 21-13 at halftime, the Tigers used second-half scores from Austin Feero and Zack Ludwick to take the lead, before Cloquet’s Austin Gotchnik ran in with 1:52 left.
Kedrowski then tied things 29-29, hitting Kadelbach in the left corner of the end zone for a two-point conversion. Moments later, Kedrowski tore his MCL during a late interception throw, but returned for the overtime after Ludwig scored the eventual winner on a 1-yard quarterback keeper.
“We whacked him a couple of times and hit him hard, but he did a good job of standing in there,” Princeton Coach Roy Hanenburg said of Kedrowski. “He’s an excellent athlete and just a kid you want on your team. He’s a kid who we call, ‘a football player.’”
Kedrowski and fellow seniors hung around the field afterward, reminiscing, while Cloquet Coach Tom Lenarz remained positive.
“After a game like that, sure they are going to be disappointed, but it’s nothing to hang their heads about,” he said. “It was such a great football game. We put ourselves in position; you got to give Princeton credit. They didn’t quit either and just made one more play than we did. We certainly gave it everything; it just wasn’t enough that day.”
Cloquet finished 5-4; Jeff Sarkela rushed for a touchdown and 105 yards on 25 attempts, while Kadelbach caught two scores for 169 yards.
“We had a good season with a great group of guys; I’m going to miss them all,” Kadelbach said following his final game. “It was a tough way to end the career, but I trusted Sean; he made a good throw.”
Section 7AAA – Esko
Esko (7-2) threw visiting Aitkin around with a 36-8 victory in a Section 7AAA semifinal Saturday at Les Knuti Field in Esko.
Jared Mattson blocked two second-quarter punts leading to a pair of Esko touchdowns. Riley Mudek and Garrett Iverson each scored twice for Esko, which faces Proctor (8-1) in the finals at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Nov. 1) at Malosky Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“Proctor has a really solid program,” said longtime Esko Coach Bill Hudpsith. “We’re going to have to have our best game offensively and defensively, create some turnovers and maybe some more blocked punts.”