Rebels return to Prep BowlSecond-ranked ML-WR (13-0) will play in its third Prep Bowl in four years on at 1 p.m. Friday, when they collide with top-rated Caledonia (12-0) at the Metrodome. The Warriors have won four of the last five state.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
MINNEAPOLIS – Standing at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, B.J. Young isn’t the biggest football player. Still, playing every snap last Thursday, the Moose Lake senior made a huge impact.
Young rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries, including nine during the fourth quarter, as the backup running back moved Moose Lake-Willow River past Jackson County Central 27-20 in a Class AA state semifinal last Thursday afternoon at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
Relieving superstar running back Jake Disterhaupt for moments in the final quarter, Young ran the ball five times on a deadening drive ending with a 4-yard Mike Gassert touchdown. Young added four more attempts in the next series to help the Rebels run down the clock.
“I was tired, but I just kept fighting for my team,” said Young, admitting he hasn’t played an entire game since beginning football in seventh grade. “My coaches just kept getting the ball to me. The line was playing so well, they made huge holes. I just had to run through them.”
Second-ranked ML-WR (13-0) now runs to its third Prep Bowl in four years, when they collide with top-rated Caledonia (12-0) at 1 p.m. Friday at the Metrodome. The Warriors have won four of the last five state championships, including last year’s title over the Rebels 27-0.
The Caledonia Warriors barely beat the BOLD Warriors 26-24 in last Thursday’s semifinals, as ML-WR players rooted for Caledonia in the tunnel, waiting to play.
“The kids have set the goal all year to get a rematch with Caledonia; they were very determined to get that rematch,” Rebels Coach Dave Louzek said. “They were asking for updates because it came down to the wire. When Caledonia won, there was a little cheer.”
Perhaps no one was cheering louder during the fourth quarter of the Rebels’ game than Disterhaupt. Admitting he was gassed in last week’s hot environment, the Division I-recruit said the substitution by Young was strategy for their team late against the Huskies.
“We took a risk by getting rid of something they were keying on [me] and seeing how they would respond,” Disterhaupt said afterward. “And it was very effective. Jerry is a great running back – he’s short and super shifty. That’s what we needed, a little more surprise at the end.”
Disterhaupt led the Rebels’ 300-yard rushing rampage with 105 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, while Michael Pender added 87 yards on 24 attempts and two first-half scores. Gassert finished with 42 yards on 10 tries; pounding in ML-WR’s only touchdown of the second half in a game they trailed 7-0 before leading 20-13 at halftime, never to look back.
Jackson County Central finished 10-3, paced by Darick Vancura’s game-best 182 yards on 23 rushes and two touchdowns. Vancura totaled 1,806 yards this fall, yet was stuffed on fourth-and-four on their final play.
“We knew we were going to have to outscore them, and we just about pulled it off,” Huskies Coach Tom Schuller said. “If we would have scored that last time, we certainly would have gone for two – and the win.”
The Rebels didn’t allow that opportunity.
“We gave them everything we had,” said Schuller outside the locker room. “It’s a daunting task to stop them. They’re big up front and definitely don’t have a shortage of guys who can run fast.”
“We have great athletic ability at wingback – five really good seniors that all should get carries,” Louzek said. “B.J. really stepped up. Having him in there was a little different look than Jake, and it took away their keys. Jackson County really keyed on Jake – and most teams are going to, obviously – but that threw them a curveball that they weren’t expecting.”