Eagles Finish Victorious Over Wildcats

Noah+Sanders+lines+up+under+center+getting+ready+to+lead+the+offense.

Connor Van Hulzen

Noah Sanders lines up under center getting ready to lead the offense.

The Eagles football team closed out their regular season with a win over Eagan, finishing the season with a 5-3 record. The win will help propel them into the playoffs, where they’ve received the #1 seed.

Despite missing key contributors like junior linebacker Kellan McKeag, senior defensive lineman Marlo Santos, and junior wide receiver Luke Martens, Apple Valley were triumphant in victory over the Eagan Wildcats.

The teams line up for the National Anthem prior to the game.
Connor Van Hulzen
The teams line up for the National Anthem prior to the game.

 

After each team’s first drive was unsuccessful, Eagan was able to turn a big play into points. Senior wide receiver Tim Yetzer caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hunter Weis to put the Wildcats up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Apple Valley responded with a drive of their own, set up by catches from junior wide receivers Justin Firpo and Nathan Macho. Noah Sanders rushed for a 13-yard touchdown and Isaiah Ewald made the point-after-attempt to tie the game at 7 in the second quarter.

With only 1:44 left in the second quarter, the Eagles started with the ball on the Eagan 40-yard line. Junior wide receiver Tyler Cardella caught a 15-yard pass and, on the next play, senior running back Mario Lewis caught a 25-yard pass for a touchdown.

Ewald made the extra point and kicked off to Eagan. As the returner was streaking up the sideline, Ewald saved Apple Valley from giving up an easy touchdown by tripping him up at the Eagles’ 46-yard line. The Wildcats’ drive ended shortly thereafter with an interception by junior cornerback Josh Arnold.

Apple Valley was able to drive to the Eagan 18-yard line and with four seconds left on the clock before halftime. Ewald attempted a field goal, but missed short. Going into halftime, the score was 14-7 in favor of Apple Valley.

Ewald and holder Jake Ertz lining up for an extra point.
Connor Van Hulzen
Ewald and holder Jake Ertz lining up for an extra point.

The Eagles started the second half with the ball at their own 13-yard line, but the drive did not last long, as a Noah Sanders fumble was recovered by Eagan’s Justin Buresh. Eagan used this to their advantage as senior running back Charles Askew ran for a 13-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.

The next series for the Eagles began at their own 35-yard line. Mario Lewis ripped off a 47-yard run, but Apple Valley was not able to turn it into points, turning the ball over on downs. However, the Eagles got the ball right back as senior defensive back Kory Miller picked off a deflected pass. After a 30-yard catch by Nathan Macho, Sanders ran for a touchdown.

During the fourth quarter, senior linebacker and captain Shane Sande injured his knee and was taken out of the game. As a result, Mario Lewis played the rest of the game at both linebacker and running back. Linebackers Ben Speece, Chris Antholz, and Jackson Green also all stepped up to help fill the void left with Sande’s absence.

The Eagles defense then closed the door on Eagan. Senior defensive end Tanyi Besong said, “Refining  our techniques in practice and staying outside in order to get to the quarterback were the keys to the successful defense tonight.”

Offensive coordinator Jeff Flugum added, “ Having Mario back, that was a real help, especially after Kellan (McKeag) got injured in the last game. Also, taking care of the football was important in the win.”

The Eagles have received the #1 seed and will play next Friday in their first game of the Class 5A Section 3 playoffs against either Hastings or Henry Sibley.