’Jacks jump past Tigers, onto HawksAustin Gotchnik rushed for 152 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns, as the red-haired Cloquet senior led the Lumberjacks to a 20-6 victory over Princeton in a Section 7AAAA prep football semifinal at a breezy Bromberg Field in Cloquet.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
There have been times this football season where Austin Gotchnik’s long hair has caused his helmet to slip off.
Saturday, though, there was nothing off about his game.
Gotchnik rushed for 152 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns, as the red-haired Cloquet senior led the Lumberjacks to a 20-6 victory over Princeton in a Section 7AAAA prep football semifinal at a breezy Bromberg Field in Cloquet.
Gotchnik, a 6-foot, 185-pound running back, barged in for third- and fourth-quarter scores of 7 and 4 yards to cap Cloquet’s come-from-behind victory, avenging a 35-29 overtime loss to the Tigers which eliminated them a year ago.
“We knew what it was like to have our season ended by them,” said Gotchnik, who leads the Lumberjacks in touchdowns this fall. “We didn’t want it to happen again.”
Third-seeded Princeton happened to score first Saturday when Wyatt Dahlheimer’s second-quarter run made it 6-0, before Cloquet senior quarterback Maxx Brenner hit classmate Nate Niemi six minutes later and Gotchnik later plunged in twice during Cloquet’s 20-point outpouring.
“We’re clicking on all sides of the ball,” Gotchnik said.
Cloquet Coach Tom Lenarz agreed, crediting both his offensive and defensive lines against a potent Princeton team that defeated a pair of Class AAAAA schools.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage,” said Lenarz.
Controlling will be most important on Friday when second-seeded Cloquet (8-1) — winners of five straight — faces top-rated Hermantown (8-1) for the Section 7AAAA championship. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Corey Veech Memorial Field.
The Hawks were responsible for Cloquet’s lone loss in week four; however, Cloquet’s continued improvement is a key.
“There are things they do well and we do well,” Lenarz said. “Hopefully our best stuff is better than their best stuff.”
“We feel like we’re a lot better than we were in week four,” added Brenner. “And now there’s a state tournament bid on the line — we have every reason to be fired up.”
Esko meanwhile, upended Duluth Marshall in a 14-0 shutout at home Saturday in a Section 7AAA semifinal.
Marc Peterson’s two touchdown tosses were plenty, as the second-seeded Eskomos (7-3) now enter the 7 p.m. title contest at Malosky Stadium tonight (Oct. 31) with Proctor (7-2), a rematch of last year’s finale that Esko won 28-26 in the waning seconds.
“They remember that one,” said senior Brandt Hintsala.
“Sometimes the best teams win and sometimes the lucky teams win,” added Esko Coach Bill Hudspith. “We’re back in the finals. And you have to be here if you want t