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Football: Woodbury, East Ridge win in first round of playoffs

Senior wide receiver Drew Pearson jumps in the air for the ball as Woodbury defeats Eagan 20-0 on Friday night. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 6
Senior Ethan Pillar holds the ball up after recovering the fumble for East Ridge. The Raptors defeated Forest Lake 44-16 on Friday night. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 6
Senior running back Andrew Kraemer runs around the Eagan defender on Friday night. Woodbury defeated Eagan 20-0 as the Royals advance to the next round of the playoffs. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 6
Senior quarterback Zach Zebrowski finds an open receiver in the end zone for the score. East Ridge defeats Forest Lake 44-16 to advance to the next round of the playoffs. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 6
Patrick Lynott and Zach Zebrowski jump in the air to celebrate a touchdown on Friday night. East Ridge defeated Forest Lake 44-16. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 5 / 6
Raphael Orubo and Tucker Rinehart work together on tackling the Eagan running back in the 20-0 win for Woodbury. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 6 / 6

Friday night

East Ridge 44, Forest Lake 16

It wasn't an ideal night for football with rain, wind and cold temperatures. That didn't effect East Ridge on Friday night as the Raptors hosted Forest Lake in the first round of the Class 6A State Football Tournament.

The Raptors used all parts of their game with offense, defense and special teams to pull out a strong 44-16 victory and advance to the next round of the playoffs.

"Our defense stepped up when we needed them most," said head coach Dan Fritze. "Our offense was able to put up some points after those key turnovers. It was a great team effort tonight."

The first quarter was centered around the running game as East Ridge was able to head into the second quarter with a 14-0 lead. Then, the offense disappeared for the early part of the second quarter, but the defense made sure to do its' job and hold Forest Lake's offense.

The defense did just that and also caused a few turnovers for the Raptor offense to take advantage of before the half ended. The defense scored a safety, while the offense scored two more touchdowns to make it a 30-3 lead heading into the half.

"Our defense came up big for us this game," said senior running back Emmanuel Okeleye. "Our offense appreciates this defense and the ability they have to stop drives."

That defense continued their success in the early part of the third quarter as they caused three straight turnovers in the first three drives for Forest Lake. East Ridge intercepted two of the passes and recovered one fumble on the Forest Lake side of the field giving the Raptor offense great field location to start their drive.

The offense took full advantage of the turnovers as they scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to extend the lead to 44-10.

Forest Lake came back in the fourth quarter to score one more touchdown and make it a 44-16 final. It was a good win for the Raptors has they can take a small sigh of relief and prepare for next week's game.

"Anytime you can get the first win in the playoffs that's really important," said senior quarterback Zach Zebrowski. "Now, we need to focus again and get ready for another tough game in the playoffs."

That next game will be against the No. 3 seed Eastview, but the game will be played at East Ridge since the Raptors are the No. 2 seed. The game will be on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.

The players and coaches for East Ridge aren't worried about next Friday and the upcoming game. Instead, they're focused on Monday morning with lifting and going through practice to be fully prepared for Eastview and their next game.

"We just take it one game at a time and one day at a time in practice," Zebrowski said. "We will enjoy the win tonight and get ready for a tough Eastview team next week."

Woodbury 20, Eagan 0

After coming off a regular season as Metro East district champions, the Woodbury Royals earned the No. 1 seed in the Section 6A State Football Tournament.

The first opponent came on Friday night against the No. 8 seed Eagan, who went winless during the regular season.

The Royals were able to fight off the horrible conditions on Friday night with rain, wind and cold temperatures to defeat Eagan with a 20-0 final score. This allows Woodbury to advance to the next round of playoffs next week and earn its first playoff win since 2012.

"Our defense was strong throughout the entire game," said head coach Andy Hill. "We moved the football well on offense, but we can't commit as many flags on our drives."

The first half of the game focused on the two defenses as the halftime score was 7-0 in favor of Woodbury. The Royals were able to get a score near the end of the first quarter as quarterback Charlie Wilson ran up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown.

The Woodbury defense played a key role in keeping Eagan's offense in check with key turnovers and big stops to force punts.

In the second half, the Royals defense continued that momentum in stopping Eagan. The Woodbury offense made sure to extend that lead with a touchdown in the third quarter by Andrew Kraemer for a 1-yard touchdown. Wilson went into the end zone again late in the fourth quarter to solidify the win for the Royals.

"We shot ourselves in the foot with the amount of flags," Hill said. "Once our offense got rolling, I liked what they did with moving the football."

Now, the Royals focus on a week of practice heading into their next battle against No. 4 seed Wayzata on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Woodbury High School. The Trojans defeated No. 5 seed Centennial on Friday night with a 45-0 win.

If the Royals win next Friday, they would play in the quarterfinals at Osseo High School on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.

Tuesday night

Hill-Murray 46, Academy Force 8

The Academy Force season came to an end on Tuesday night as Hill-Murray defeated Academy Force 46-8 in the first round of the 3AAAA football playoffs.

Academy Force was looking for its first win of the season, but weren't able to get it against Hill-Murray. Even though the season is over, the season consisted of a lot of learning from the players and head coach Noah Dombrovski is hoping that will lead into the 2019 season.

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

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