Cromwell-Wright has an elite-level team, without doubt. The Cardinal starters haven’t played a down in the fourth quarter all season, which has given Gronner a chance to test his vaunted sophomore class. And they’ve done well.
“At the beginning of the year we were rusty but our games got stronger physically and mentally. We didn’t win as much as we liked but some of our matches were 5-2, 4-3, and a lot of three-set matches where we came up short.
What made the victory even more remarkable was that Cloquet played without three starting offensive linemen and tight end Evan Erickson out due to injury. Sophomore Brady Doran started at center — in his first varsity game and in his first season playing the position.
“For us to be successful we have to come out and capitalize on good play early on,” Clark added. “That is the psyche this team has. If we get a goal or two or whatever in the first 20 or 30 minutes, we can cruise from there. But we struggle when we don’t finish.”
Couture retired as a sergeant and headed home in 1953 to finally get his diploma from Denfeld, which he got through taking a series of exams. A hockey player and later a much beloved coach, Couture stayed with snow and cold for the rest of his working life.
“Almost the exact same thing happened to us in 2011 when we went to state for the first time,” he said. “We got drubbed at Hermantown with a big, tough senior class. We fell into that same trap and got pushed around. They came to our place and it was a different story. It took them down a peg and propelled us forward. But we can’t be afraid of a shoulder charge or two — we need to be more emotional.”
“We thought they were the best team on our schedule,” he said. “South Ridge beat Floodwood, who is our next opponent, but by scores of games we really haven’t been tested yet.”
“In past years when I started coaching we would generally beat Cloquet,” she said. “But in recent years they have been very good and did better against us, so it definitely feels good to come out on top this time around.” Esko faces Barnum on Thursday and will host its own eight-team tournament on Oct. 8.
“We hit the ball too hard, we hit it too long because we are looking to hit a winner rather than stay in the point and it isn’t time to go for that winning shot,” he said. “Part of learning the game is learning when you have the opportunity to take the shot which can win you the point. It’s also difficult in doubles, when you have to learn the strategies of playing with two.”
“We had fog come in at halftime and they were trying to pass the ball on us and they couldn’t do it,” Fawcett said. “Then they put it on the ground, kept our defense on the field for 40 minutes and they beat us.”