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Cloquet continues on State surge

'Jacks to joust with Delano Off to their first state tournament in 26 years, Cloquet's biggest dreams are still ahead of them. The Lumberjacks (9-1) are bracketed to face fourth-ranked Delano (9-1) in Friday's 7 p.m. Class AAAA state quarterfinal...

Section champs!

'Jacks to joust with Delano

Off to their first state tournament in 26 years, Cloquet's biggest dreams are still ahead of them.

The Lumberjacks (9-1) are bracketed to face fourth-ranked Delano (9-1) in Friday's 7 p.m. Class AAAA state quarterfinal at Husky Stadium at St. Cloud State University. Semifinals and finals will be at the Metrodome Nov. 14 and 29.

A pep fest send-off to wish the Lumberjacks luck is set for 12:40 p.m. Friday at Cloquet High School.

Cloquet, which hasn't qualified for State since 1987, is on a six-game winning streak, while Delano -- 30 minutes west of the Twin Cities -- has won four consecutive contests behind their large lineup.

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"We've seen a couple games of theirs," Cloquet Coach Tom Lenarz said. "They'll be bigger than us."

~ Tyler Korby/Pine Journal

Cloquet continues on State surge

HERMANTOWN -- It took 10 football seasons -- starting in the third grade -- to get Cloquet senior captain Logan Crowser to last Friday night's Section 7AAAA championship game.

It was worth it though, when the senior raised the ball in the air and signified the Lumberjacks' 23-14 victory past rival Hermantown Friday at a cold Corey Veech Memorial Field.

Crowser, a versatile 6-foot, 190-pounder -- who plays defensive end, special teams and is the punter -- recovered a fumble forced by teammate Treavor Lowther on Hawks quarterback Kole Zuidmulder in the game's final minutes.

The minutes soon turned to seconds and Cloquet stamped its first state tournament berth since 1987, sending smiling players jumping around and students storming the field.

Cloquet Coach Tom Lenarz was as proud as any.

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"They accomplished everything that we have always wanted for them," he said, teary-eyed. "It's so gratifying."

The Lumberjacks (9-1), which avenged an earlier 21-15 loss to Hermantown this season, used a flea-flicker on the night's first play to set the tone of a game they led 23-6 by the break and never trailed in a nerve-racking second half.

Having his best game of the fall, receiver Kyle Klatt collected 116 rushing yards on six tries and scored twice via Brenner's 14-yard first-quarter touchdown toss and the shifty Klatt's winding run for 64 yards in the second quarter.

"We talked all year about not letting anyone come in here and smack us in the mouth," Hawks Coach Daryl Illikainen said. "Hats off to them. They pushed us around."

"This is the team we wanted," Klatt said, "it's the icing."

Cloquet continues on to Friday's 8 p.m. Class AAAA state quarterfinal showdown with Delano (9-1) at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud -- their first state contest in 26 years.

These seniors were a part of the Cloquet Youth Football Association's inaugural class Lenarz began in 2003.

"I think I was on the green team," said quarterback Maxx Brenner, who was 7-of-8 passing for 79 yards against Hermantown last week.

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"I want to say green," added classmate Austin Gotchnik.

"The grey team," said Crowser of the youth program that fields around 200 area kids every fall season, grades 3 to 6.

Lenarz, who won a state football title at Blaine his senior year in 1988, said the CYFA has upped the football interest in town.

"And all of its volunteer parents," Lenarz added.

And kids like Crowser, who are willing to put in years of practice.

Minnesota Class AAAA Tournament

Nov. 8 8:00 pm Quarterfinals, Cloquet vs. Delano, at St. Cloud State University

Nov. 14 4:30 pm Semifinals, at Metrodome

Nov. 29 4:00 pm Finals, at Metrodome

Related Topics: CLOQUETFOOTBALL
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