Football: Woodbury advances to state, East Ridge falls in the section finals
Woodbury 16, Wayzata 14
There was about two minutes left in the game and No. 1 seed Woodbury was leading 16-14 over No. 4 seed Wayzata.
The Trojans had the ball and started their drive on their side of the field. With less than a minute left in the game, Wayzata converted a fourth down to continue the drive and their chance of winning the game.
The clock was winding down to 30 seconds and the Trojans made it onto Woodbury's side of the field. Wayzata decided to run one more play with 10 seconds left in the game, so they could get better field position for the field goal attempt.
During that last play, the Woodbury defense sacked the quarterback and Wayzata didn't have any timeouts to stop the clock. The field goal team wasn't able to get the ball snapped in time and the final score read 16-14 in favor of the Royals.
"It was a great win for our team, especially winning the last home game of the season," said Brock Rinehart. "Now, we need to focus on the next game and get ready for another tough game."
The win on Friday night allowed Woodbury to win the section championship and advance to the state tournament next week.
The last few games have been moments to remember for the Royals. The last game of the regular season was an opportunity for Woodbury to win the Metro East title for the first time in program history. The Royals won and brought that momentum into the playoffs.
The following week, Woodbury defeated Eagan in the first round of the playoffs to earn its first playoff win since 2012.
Now, the Royals won their second round playoff game and won a section championship to keep the season going into the state tournament. Obviously the goal is to continue playing each week until the end of November in the state championship, but each of these wins mean a lot to the team because they understand the importance.
"We are one big family and have a strong brotherhood," said Tucker Rinehart. "It's great to share these moments with this team, but we're not done. We are looking forward to the state tournament."
Woodbury relied on its kicker, Cade Keesling, throughout the game against Wayzata as he connected on three field goals and an extra point. The sole touchdown came from a 58-yard touchdown run by Brock Rinehart to start the second half.
The defense did its job in containing the running game and the quarterback as the two touchdowns came from long passes and rushes. Coach Andy Hill was happy with Woodbury's defense and looks to continue growing both sides of the ball during the next week of practice.
"I'm just so proud of these players and their fight in each game," Hill said. "Lakeville South is a great team and that's our focus for this upcoming week."
Woodbury will be playing the No. 6 seed Lakeville South, who has had a run in the first couple games of the playoffs. Lakeville South defeated No. 3 seed Cretin-Derham Hall in the first round with a 38-20 score and then defeated No. 2 seed Champlin Park in the second round with a 43-34 final score.
Woodbury and Lakeville South will play at Osseo High School as a neutral site on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. for a chance to play at U.S. Bank Stadium the following week.
"Lakeville South is a hot team right now and is scoring plenty of points in the playoffs," Hill said. "We're looking forward to the challenge next week."
Eastview 27, East Ridge 17
Brotherhood and family.
Those two words describe this East Ridge football team this season.
That togetherness was shown before, during and after Friday night's game as the No. 2 seed Raptors fell to No. 3 seed Eastview 27-17 to end their season in the section finals.
"It's not winning and losing," said head coach Dan Fritze. "It's that we don't get be around these players every day."
It was a night with two good teams and Fritze knew the key to success was to limit the amount of errors on both sides of the ball. East Ridge had a few mistakes with some interceptions and fumble recoveries that gave Eastview the opportunity to capitalize on them.
And Eastview did.
At the half, Eastview was up 13-10 and East Ridge came out in the third quarter ready to take the lead again. The Raptors did just that as Kendall Moore went in for a rushing touchdown and gave East Ridge a 17-13 lead in the third quarter.
Eastview didn't go away though in the fourth quarter and used a couple of interceptions from Zach Zebrowski to take the lead back and, eventually, win the game.
With this loss, East Ridge ends its season in the section finals. More importantly though, the Raptors lose 28 seniors on the varsity roster.
Those seniors mean everything to Fritze because to him, they're more than just football players.
"[The seniors] are just amazing humans," Fritze said. "That's really all there is to it. You don't find a group like that. They're unbelievable."
Even though the season has come to an end, East Ridge finished the 2018 season with a 5-3 regular season record. The Raptors went on a four-game winning streak beating some tough conference opponents like Stillwater and Cretin-Derham Hall.
The Raptors went on to win the first round of the playoffs last week with a 44-16 win over Forest Lake. For Fritze, he enjoys seeing the growth of each player on this team and hopes to continue seeing that in the future.
"We've known these kids since they were young players,' Fritze said. "And now to see them become awesome young men is the coolest thing ever. You just don't want it to end."