Cover photo from postbulletin.com
Going into the 2A championship game, the Pipestone Area Arrows were going to be big underdogs against the two-time state champion Caledonia Warriors. Pipestone losing a player before the title game and Caledonia getting another back for the first time in the playoffs made the mountain even taller for the Arrows. Here are five things that shaped Caledonia’s 57-6 victory.
Pipestone's starting quarterback Cody Thompson could not play. The Pipestone offense runs typically out of the shotgun and runs a no-huddle offense, but after the first series Pipestone went under center and were huddling. Down a starting quarterback and cutting the playbook down against a defense that has not lost a game in 40-straight contests put the Arrows behind the eight ball before the opening kickoff.
Pipestone lost a significant piece to their offense and Caledonia got one back. Wide receiver Sam Barthel was injured before the playoffs began and was making his playoff debut in the Prep Bowl. He was a game changer. In the first half, he caught five balls for 103 yards and three touchdowns in route to a 36-6 halftime lead.
Down 12-0 late in the first quarter, Pipestone dipped into its bag of tricks to attempt to get back into the game. At least for a time – they did. Pipestone Area's Tyl Wolder caught the kickoff on the left side of the field, took a few steps upfield and then started a Music City Miracle type of play. Wolder threw the ball all the way across the field to teammate Carter Nesvold. Nesvold picked up a couple of blocks and sprinted untouched 76 yards downfield for the touchdown.
Up 18-6 late in the second quarter, Caledonia faced a 4th and nine at the Arrows' 22-yard line. To this point, Caledonia's offense wasn't really stopped, but the blitzing Arrows' defense had the Warriors' offense slightly off for nearly two quarters. When quarterback Owen King beat a blitz up the middle with a quick pass to 10 for a touchdown, it just looked like they had figured out how to beat the Pipestone defense.
The Warriors had the game well in control by this point, but King made a play very few can make from the quarterback position. On third and long, King rolled to the right and didn't see anything he liked. He scrambled to the left, twice shaking off defenders and threw off his back foot into the end zone. Barthel beat two defenders to make the touchdown catch and put the Warriors up 30-6. King would finish his storied career with an 18-28 247 yard, five touchdown final game.