Red-hot Rebels roll on to the Bank
If one were to scout Colton Little solely based on the high school football player's last name, that would be problematic.
West Central Area-Ashby found that out the hard way last week by watching the Moose Lake-Willow River senior play.
Defying his last name, Little was a big problem for the Knights last Friday, when the Rebels running back rushed for 289 yards and four touchdowns in ML-WR's 41-14 win in a Class AA state quarterfinal in frosty Brainerd.
In a game played in 19-degree weather with a wind chill of 5, the victory sends the red-hot Rebels (7-5) on to the semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 17, against Pipestone Area (11-1) in the much cozier confines of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
That could be problematic for the opposing Arrows, who will look to contain the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Little, who was seemingly unstoppable last week.
"He was really on fire," said Rebels coach Dave Louzek, now in his 19th season and owning a career record of 176-43.
In fact, Little scored on ML-WR's first offensive play, scooting through the line of scrimmage and bursting 53 yards for a touchdown. Come the second quarter, he exploded on scoring runs of 81 and 43 yards as the Rebels led 28-0 at half.
"I give the credit to the linemen," said Little, who had 24 carries in a game that was never close. "They create the huge holes to run through. I couldn't do anything without them."
Backfield junior Trent Juhl added 111 yards himself, as ML-WR didn't hesitate to hand the ball off. It may not be the flashiest style of football, but in Minnesota, it works.
And seeing the Rebels perform it perfectly is all the better.
"In my 19 years as coach, we've always looked to run, it's been our identity," said Louzek, who has advanced ML-WR to the state tournament 11 of the last 12 years. "It has really brought us success, so why would we ever go away from it?"
Louzek, too, has helped revitalize the success with his Rebels this fall. Following a 2-5 start, ML-WR hasn't lost a game the rest of season.
Friday, Nov. 17, will be the first time in program history — something not easy to do in this co-op — the Rebels will play in the glitzy new home of the Minnesota Vikings.
"To be honest, I didn't think we'd make it this far," said senior Thomas Gulso, who had two interceptions Friday, Nov. 10.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Louzek said.
IF YOU GO
State Class AA Semifinals:
Moose Lake-Willow River vs. Pipestone Area
11:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 17
at U.S. Bank Stadium
Listen at WMOZ 106.9 FM