Posted On: 10/6/18 5:14 AM
Andy Hill had a feeling about the second-half kickoff.
The Woodbury coach had just watched White Bear Lake tie the game at seven before halftime with a touchdown. His starting quarterback was out of the game with an ankle injury. But rather than agonize about another round of adversity against his team, Hill came out of the locker room, winked at his wife and told her not to worry.
Talk about coach’s intuition.
Senior Andrew Kraemer returned the second-half kick 93 yards for a touchdown, sparking Woodbury to a big third quarter and a 33-15 road victory over White Bear Lake.
“We work on it a lot and he’s [Kraemer] is really explosive,” Hill said. “When he gets a crease, he’s got a good chance of going.”
Kraemer’s return helped backup quarterback Charlie Wilson settle into the game. Wilson relieved an injured Jake Wenzel on the Royals’ second offensive possession, but admitted after the game he wasn’t fully comfortable until Kraemer’s big play.
“In the locker room, I kind of calmed myself down,” Wilson said. “The kickoff return helped a lot, because I’d only got like three varsity snaps before this.”
The Royals special teams kept making plays after Kraemer’s return too.
Drew Pearson’s long punt return into White Bear Lake territory set up a Cade Keesling 22-yard field goal that pushed the lead to 17-7. On the ensuing possession, the Bears’ punt snap went out of the end zone for a safety. The Royals next drive began at the White Bear Lake 36-yard line.
Brock Rinehart ran 29 yards for a touchdown shortly after to extend the Woodbury advantage to 26-7.
“I’m really liking our resiliency,” Hill said. “We’ve been in games where weird things have happened and they just keep fighting, keep going.”
The cool, wet weather had turned the opening two quarters into a penalty-filled, defensive battle with both teams taking advantage of good field position on their scoring drives.
Kraemer opened the scoring with a 13-yard plunge after multiple Bears miscues gave Woodbury (5-1) the ball at the Bears 24-yard line. WBL’s Zach Griebel provided the equalizer with two minutes before half to finish a 40-yard drive.
The Bears wouldn’t score again until senior quarterback Cooper Anderson connected with Kevin Boeing for a 73-yard touchdown that trimmed Woodbury’s lead to 11. A fourth-quarter drive spanning more than six minutes put the game away for the visitors, with Wilson scoring his first-career touchdown on a two-yard run.
“I’m so proud of him because the moment wasn’t too big,” said Hill. “He was ready for it.”
The win was the Royals fourth-straight, dropping the hosts in front of a festive homecoming crowd that packed the stadium for the surprising Bears (4-2). White Bear Lake never led, however, and was outscored by 11 in the decisive third quarter.