It was a weird night of high school football.
With two minutes gone in the second half of the Class AAAAAA State Quarterfinal, Blaine was looking to expand on its 14-2 halftime lead on Eastview. With snow falling and about a quarter inch of fluffy snow on the ground, the lights in the White Bear Lake High School stadium flickered.
About half of the lights went out. The scoreboard also flickered and then went out.
The game stopped, and about five minutes later the rest of the lights were out; the players and fans were in total darkness.
Eventually, the players were sent back into the locker room while everyone waited to find out what would happen next. About an hour passed and then players, coaches and fans were told the game would resume Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.
The first half – even before the lights went out in White Bear Lake – was full of interesting developments – including a player ejection.
The first points of the game were scored on a safety. As Eastview punted, the Blaine return man misjudged the ball or maybe bailed out on trying to catch the ball due to the conditions. Either way, instead of having the ball around the 20 they were inside the five-yard line. One play later the Lightning were on the board. Mikey Kamano broke into the backfield and dropped the Bengals’ ball carrier in the end zone.
Up 2-0, the Lightning had an excellent opportunity to broaden the lead. After the free kick, they had great field position and had moved the ball inside the 30-yard line. The drive would stall there after Blaine defensive end Lucas Becker – who dominated in the first half – sacked the Eastview quarterback on fourth down.
After a slow start, the Bengals’ offense began to adjust to the conditions. Running out of the spread, they got the offense going by feeding running back Will Fredrickson. Moving down the field mainly between the tackles, Fredrickson found room behind Alex Byers for a short touchdown run.
Up 7-2, Blaine was in business again off the kickoff. Brennan Koste reached in a stripped the Eastview kick returner of the ball and his teammate Hunter Hake recovered the ball at the twenty-yard line.
Blaine was unable to capitalize on the great field position, but the game took its first strange turn on the next drive.
Eastview running back Quintcy Suggs, possibly the team’s best offensive player, was ejected for throwing a punch. After taking a handoff, Suggs was getting driven back by a group of Blaine players. They continued to drive him back after the whistle. It was not the first time this was done to Suggs during the game. This time – however – Suggs got frustrated with the extracurriculars. A frustrated Suggs threw his arm in a punching motion, which was enough for the referees to disqualify him.
Now down a valuable offensive weapon, the Lightning offense began to struggle.
The Blaine special teams would make yet another big play to flip field position. Jason Kaul uncorked a 55-yard punt pinning the Lightning deep. Unable to get out of their own end, Eastview had to punt late in the first half.
Haring – who despite the conditions – threw a nice ball both from the pocket and on the run. One of his best throws came right before the end of the half. He connected on a post pattern to Derek Heldman for a 25-yard gain. It gave Blaine the chance to score before the half. A pair of runs by Fredrickson – the second for six-yards and a touchdown – gave the Bengals a 14-2 lead with thirty seconds to play in the half.
What tomorrow will bring is anyone’s guess. Stranger things can happen, however – proven by the strange evening in White Bear Lake.