Many of them were making their second state tournament trip, as a part of the Lumberjacks' third appearance in four seasons. "Everyone down there is good," said Lenarz of the state tournament. "And our kids certainly earned the right to be there."
The defense will need to stand up and be counted in Thursday’s state semifinal against Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran (12-0), which beat Hillcrest Lutheran Academy 39-22 in its state quarterfinal. Junior quarterback Carter Kopet leads an aerial circus which will be unlike anything the Cardinals have yet faced.
In Virginia Wednesday, Nov. 2, the Deer River Warriors edged the Carlton Bulldogs in a five-set Section 7A semifinal, scoring a 18-25, 27-25, 25-17, 12-25, 15-8 victory, ending Carlton's playoffs run.
The Lumberjacks boys finished eighth overall and senior Isaac Boedigheimer came in sixth place, diving to his best finish ever. Cloquet senior Anja Maijala made her final run in Northfield, clocking a seasonal-best time of 19:23.5 in the girls field. Cloquet eighth-grader Lauren Cawcutt clocked a 20:37.8 in her inaugural state trip, good for 112th place.
Moose Lake cross country runner Ethan Olson, in his third consecutive state appearance representing the small Moose Lake-Willow River-Barnum cooperative program, was just over five seconds behind state champion Declan Dahlberg. In the girls' field Saturday, Carlton senior Erika Fox finished her final state meet in 26th place, topping the list of county participants.
The Lumberjacks scored a thrilling 41-27 victory over Princeton in the Section 7AAAA final last week at Chisago Lakes High School. Cloquet now faces Benilde-St. Margaret's (7-3) in a Class AAAA state quarterfinal Friday at 7 p.m. on the same Chisago Lakes artificial turf where they tore up the Tigers for 359 rushing yards and all six of their touchdowns on the ground last week.
Fox finished officially at 19:52.9. Along with winning team Proctor at 91 points and runner-up Ely at 103, Carlton County state qualifiers with Fox included: ML-WR's Savannah Gamst (fifth) in 20:10.3, Carlton's Brittny Hillstrom (10th) in 20:42.1 and Taina Koivisto of the South Ridge-North Woods-Northeast Range cooperative, taking the last individual slot in 11th at 20:45.6.
"School has gone by so slowly," said Boedigheimer, making a fourth state trip in a row to finish his high school tenure. "Every minute that passes is another minute closer to us being in that moment. I still can't believe we did this. I'm still trying to process it."
"We're taking things one game at a time," said Hoeffling. "But I've always been told to mentally prepare ahead of things, just in case we see Cook County again. I really hope we do.
Cardinal quarterback Zion Smith has thrown 25 touchdowns this fall without an interception, while he is also on a first-team defense that hasn't given up a single touchdown as of yet.