Coon Rapids’ (3-5) hopes of winning a Section 5-6A game were dashed in an opening round with a 51-23 loss at Totino-Grace Oct. 25 in a rematch of the season opener in Fridley.
Coon Rapids hung with Totino-Grace in the opener in late August after the defense generated several first half turnovers. But instead of forcing four first-half turnovers, Coon Rapids surrendered 36 points on five touchdowns in the opening half of the section game.
The section opener was also a bit different because the Eagles (7-2) had its full roster.
Cardinals coach Jon Young said his team was excited for another crack at Totino-Grace. “We didn’t care who we played,” he said.
Coon Rapids entered sections winners of two of its last three games. “Despite the numerous season/career ending injuries we were getting better,” Young said. “Our kids were excited to play them again; the first game of the year was physical and we had many opportunities to win that game.”
Totino’s post-season experience showed early.
“Offensively, we did some good things but made just enough mistakes to kill drives,” Young said.
The mistakes included a dropped punt to set up a touchdown.
Coon Rapids opened the game with a nearly perfect offensive drive, but stalled on the six-yard line and missed a field goal. The Cardinals defense held Totino-Grace to a third-and-five situation, but Totino-Grace converted it and eventually scored a touchdown on the drive.
The Eagles took a 22-0 lead in the first quarter on a pair of passing touchdown passes from quarterback Seth Sullwold after running back Kai Barber scored from 12 yards out for the first score of the game.
Sullwold passed for three touchdowns. Carlton Djam had eight carries for a game-high 109 yards and Lance Benick scored twice on four carries for 43 yards.
Coon Rapids running back Will Elliot scored twice with six carries for a team-high 83 yards.
Cardinals quarterback Austin Anda completed 17 of 39 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Anda found Tykeise Johnson on a 15-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to make it 36-7 at the half.
Johnson had a game-high 10 catches for 91 yards to give him 17 catches for 260 yards and three touchdowns over the final two games of the season.
Alex Boxwell had five catches for 75 yards.
The Cardinals finished the season with three wins one year after going winless and losing players like receiver Taylor Croal, running back Deshon Johnson, tight end Jeremy Becker, offensive lineman Calvin Shipapaseth, lineman Mike Zawislak, safety Andy Clark and linebacker Charlie Pope to injuries.
Young pointed to the increase of number of players as another reason for the improved season.
The offensive line comprised four juniors and one senior, so expect continued growth in the off-season including Blake Weber, Young said.
According to Young, there was continued improvement by linebacker Tyler Hipp, who had a breakout opening game against Totino-Grace and made big plays throughout the season.
Safety Nick Gervais came on strong at the end of the season and Young expects him to be a solid contributor next season, he said.
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