Not that it matters, but unranked Lincoln Lutheran’s 21-12 Class C-2 quarterfinal win over previously unbeaten and fourth-rated Arcadia-Loup City didn’t look like an upset.
The Warriors (9-2) dominated both sides of the ball Friday night at Seacrest Field and advanced to the semifinals of the state football playoffs for the first time in school history.
“First time in the quarters, first time in the semis,” Warriors’ coach Greg Nelson said shortly after a raucous meeting with his squad. “We’re doing a lot of things for the first time. This is fun.”
Nelson’s voice, pushed to the limit, will welcome the rest before Friday’s semifinal game against another unbeaten team, top-ranked Centennial, a 26-16 winner Friday night over Central City.
“We can play with the best teams in C-2. We’ve played a couple of the best already and we’re a good football team, especially if we can get ‘7’ (running back Zach Clausen) back in the mix. He played a great game tonight, and if we can keep him healthy we can continue to be dangerous."
Clausen, who played in his first game since breaking his left foot in Week 3 of the season, rushed for 64 yards on 12 carries. The 6-foot-6, 185-pound junior led a Lutheran ground game that averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Receiver Logan Kreizel burned the Rebels’ defense with 12 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Cole Schaedel completed 18-of-26 for 164 yards as the Warriors piled up 322 total yards.
“I gotta give it all to the O-line,” Kreizel said. “They got the job done up front. We came into the game knowing we could pass, but Coach challenged us to run the ball and that’s what we did. With the passing game, we thought we could use motions and screens against their defensive backs. We were able to run quick routes and get the job done outside as well as inside.”
Lutheran’s offense was complemented by a defense that shut down Arcadia-Loup City’s rushing game. The Rebels (10-1) finished with 77 yards on 31 carries for an average of 2.4 yards per carry. Tige Calleroz, who entered the game with 1,071 rushing yards, managed only 19 yards on 17 carries as the Rebels finished with 170 total yards, including 35 in the first half.
“Our defense did an awesome job from the get-go,” Nelson said. “We challenged them to be physical and they met the challenge. We’ve seen good running teams before. In fact, we got our butts kicked by one (35-9 loss to Yutan) in Week 9, so we know what that looks like.”
Lutheran took a 14-0 halftime lead thanks to two straight touchdowns in the second period. Cole Schaedel opened the scoring on a 3-yard run early in the second quarter, and Colby Bliss scored on a 9-yard run with 5:06 left in the first half.
Arcadia-Loup City cut the lead to 14-6 following a 12-play, 64-yard scoring drive on its first possession of the second half. Lutheran’s offense answered the challenge with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Schaedel to Kreizel. That play capped a 71-yard drive and boosted the Warriors’ lead to 21-6 with 10:17 left in the game.
A fumbled punt on Lutheran’s 44-yard line set up Arcadia-Loup City’s final touchdown, a 3-yard run by Calleroz with 8:21 left in the game.
Photos: Lincoln Lutheran grinds its way past Arcadia-Loup City
The Warriors advanced to the state prep football playoff semifinals for the first time in school history with Friday's 21-12 win over No. 4 Huskies at Seacrest Field in Class C-2 state high school football playoffs quarterfinal action. Photos by Francis Gardler, Journal Star.