|QB Damon Gibson shares in that championship feeling at Mall of America Field, Minneapolis. Ethan Chase is #62. (Minnesota State High School League photo, from WJON-St. Cloud site)|
|Austin Maanum gets the handoff for CGB vs. Grand Meadow. Photo by Dan Hinrichs of The Examiner.|
The Clinton, Graceville and Beardsley communities are basking in the well-deserved glow of a state championship. The hard-working student athletes of CGB garnered it. The Metrodome in Minneapolis was the site for this, Friday (11/23).
The Wolverines of CGB and the Superlarks - love that name - of Grand Meadow took the Mall of America Field. Kickoff time was 10 a.m. The action was televised. At stake was the state nine-man championship.
"Black Friday" seemed a world away as the fans of the two vying communities anticipated the kickoff. Prep athletics was a far more virtuous cause than "Black Friday," the latter having been satirized nicely by Jimmy Kimmel ("It's Black Friday, Charlie Brown").
Could the CGB machine continue rolling forward? They certainly rolled through the semis as did Grand Meadow. Only one of these fine teams would have its arm collectively raised in victory.
The Wolverines worked to the triumph, savoring the final score of 40-22. And the recipe for that success? It was largely "big plays." What a weapon that can be.
The teams felt each other out for a time. This would be no cakewalk from start to finish for CGB. But they certainly turned on the jets toward the end of the first half. A pair of touchdown runs turned a 6-0 game into a healthy 20-point CGB advantage.
Jason Montonye, who earned superlatives from the TV announcers, gave much of the push. Montonye scored the first two CGB touchdowns, first breaking loose on a 51-yard run early in the second quarter, and then exploding from 49 yards away with 1:22 left in the half. So the score is 12-0.
The defense forced the Superlarks to punt with under a minute 'til halftime, then it was Austin Maanum's turn to excel carrying the football. This was like a knockout punch: a 73-yard run on the first play after the punt. Montonye took over again for the two-point conversion. CGB has high proficiency with two-point conversion plays.
Fans looked up to the scoreboard and its 20-0 score. It must have been a shock to the Superlarks and their fans who a week previous enjoyed 60-plus points in the semis win over South Ridge.
CGB was stopped on its first possession of the second half. The Superlarks then demonstrated they might be finding some of that offensive magic again. They mounted a lengthy drive into CGB territory. But a fourth down situation arose. It was a pivotal moment as Grand Meadow tried a pass at the CGB 16. It was incomplete!
So CGB's offensive troops resumed their offensive positions. They did so with resolve to run the ball with authority. They indeed accomplished just that, covering 84 yards in seven plays. Quarterback Damon Gibson scored this CGB touchdown, running 39 yards. The score now: 26-0.
The Superlarks picked up offensive momentum as this game drew toward its end but it was clearly too little, too late. Landon Jacobson caught a screen pass from Trenton Bleifus and scored on a 61-yard play. Bleifus found Collin Jacobson on a pass for two on the conversion. The score is 26-8 and CGB made sure the Superlark fans didn't get their hopes elevated too much.
Montonye turned on the jets on a kickoff return. He sprinted 82 yards to get that "touchdown" signal from the refs again, putting CGB over 30 points - familiar territory for them.
CGB had one touchdown left in them. It was Austin Maanum reaching the end zone on this final TD for the Wolverine cause. Maanum brought pride to the blue as he scored from the two. Montonye succeeded on the conversion play to elevate CGB to the 40-point plateau. The score as it stood now said more about the game's complexion than the final score.
Grand Meadow was able to add some points before it was all over. Mike Ojulu showed proficiency catching the football for touchdowns.
Bleifus had a decent morning passing the football as he connected on 18 of 28 attempts for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Ojulu had four receptions for 44 yards and a pair of scores.
CGB was a machine for producing rushing yardage on this day, surprising no one. They nearly reached 400 rushing yards. Maanum's output: 185 yards and two touchdowns. Montonye's output: 126 yards and two touchdowns. Signal caller Gibson came through with 69 rushing yards and a score.
The Wolverines outgained the Superlarks, 393 yards to 264.
The state championship is the highlight chapter in a pretty long history of gridiron impact by teams from that area. Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley was state runner-up in 2008. C-G (without Beardsley) reached state in 1993. Graceville by itself - remember the Shamrocks? - reached state in 1979 and 1982. The '86 fall saw Beardsley-Valley in the state picture.
Grand Meadow has been in state five times. The Superlarks finish 2012 with a 12-2 record.
CGB had an undefeated slate and can boast a final 13-0 record.
CGB is at the top of a mountain now; there's no higher they can climb. Playing on Mall of America Field, home of the Vikings, was a plum experience.
Reflecting on the championship game, defensive end Ethan Chase told the Star Tribune "we had a game plan and everyone executed it."
Chase had quite the memorable day, sacking the quarterback three times for 32 yards in losses. He was a cog in limiting Grand Meadow to 55 first half yards.
Montonye commented to the Star Tribune that "our offensive line was great. You could have driven a truck through those holes."
A hearty congratulations to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley football, the blue crew, for the 2012 title season. Click on the link below to view a photo album of the title game from The Examiner, with photos by Dan Hinrichs. You'll see an arrow on the first photo, and you click on it to advance. You'll see some ads along the way.
Click on the link below to read The Examiner's game coverage.
article/big-plays-give- clinton-graceville-beardsley- state-nine-man-championship
Click on the link below to view the CGB football page on Maxpreps:
schools/clinton-graceville- beardsley-wolverines-( graceville,mn)/football/home. htm
I invite you to read my Thanksgiving post for 2012 which is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Click on the permalink below. Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Viva Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley football for the unforgettable fall of 2012. Where does the time go? I still think of Damon Gibson as a little kid.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org