The Rocori Spartans trailed the Winona Winhawks 14-7 at halftime of their 4A semi-final game. The defense kept the team in the game, and then coming out of the locker room, the defense maintained its level, and the offense exploded for 41 points in the second half. They advanced to the 4A title game with a 48-24 victory. Here are five – actually nine – players who stood out.
Jack Steil Rocori quarterback/defensive back
Here are the first four offensive plays of the game for Rocori. Steil completed a quick pass to the outside. On a designed run off tackle, Steil picked up 15 yards. On the third play, he scrambled up the middle for 15 more yards. The senior finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. On a later drive, he showed his power by breaking a tackle on a run up the middle. Then, he rolled to his right and cut all the way back to the other sidelines for twenty yards. He showed his arm strength on a throw to the outside. On the run, he hit Colton Baumgarten on a deep ball for 33 yards. Steil broke multiple tackles when adding a 1-yard touchdown run. He continued to break numerous tackles on his third touchdown. He was on the money with a slant pass and then used his speed to get the edge and a 15-yard touchdown run. He capped off his offensive night by showing his speed on a 44-yard touchdown down the sidelines. He accounted for 308 total yards and five touchdowns. Defensively, he kept contain and allowed his teammates to make the tackle. He also drew a holding penalty rushing the passer.
Tucker Haakonson – Rocori wide receiver/defensive back
Haakonson ended the game with three interceptions. First, he picked off a deep ball down the middle of the field that could have been a Winona touchdown. Then he intercepted a pass on the sidelines and returned it for thirty yards. Near the end of the game, he topped that with an interception return for fifty yards. He also prevented a long run by making an open-field tackle. He contributed on the offensive side of the ball by making two catches for 39 yards. One of those catches included a catch off a tipped pass.
Brady Linn – Rocori running back
If Steil was the Spartans’ offensive Batman, Linn was Robin. Linn finished with exactly 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He opened with a quick run off tackle. Linn has excellent instincts and uses his cutback ability to maximize his runs. In what would become a theme, his cutback got him through a hole for big yards. He showed his speed with an explosive run down the sidelines on an option run. Not only a runner, he also threw a nice lead block on a quarterback run and then sealed the edge with another block on the outside.
Ben Primus, Caleb Schouviler, Blake Blattner, Jake Stauber, Evan Flint – Rocori offensive line
This group paved the way to a 300-yard rushing game against a defense that gave up less than 190 rushing yards per game in the regular season. Early in the game, I thought I was going to be focusing on Primus, Flint, and Stauber, as they paved the way on three consecutive runs for the Spartans’ first score. On one of the three runs, Schouviler helped with a trap block to spring the runner. As the game wore on, the Spartans’ offensive line was doing damage on both sides of the line. Schouviler and Flint both made an impact on the defensive side of the ball too. They both stuffed runs for little or no gain.
Isaac Massmann – Rocori defensive end
Massmann showed his speed by tracking down a play from behind for a short loss. Then he set the edge stringing out a play so his teammates could make the tackle. He put pressure on the quarterback multiple times. He recorded two sacks, once by again using his speed to chase down the quarterback from behind.