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UPDATED: Delano falls to Becker in a playoff thriller

By Matt Kane
Sports Editor

DELANO – Neither team wanted to be finished with the 2017 season.

Play on the field at Tiger Stadium Saturday night, when Delano hosted Becker in the Section 6-4A semifinals, told the fans so, as the Tigers and Bulldogs exchanged bites and big plays through 48 minutes.

In the end, the “Dawgs”, as it states on the Becker helmets, were still standing in the crisp, cool air after a 36-28 win over the higher-seeded Tigers.

Delano senior Calvin Wishart tries to soak in the final score, a 36-28 loss to Becker, Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. Photo by Matt Kane

Delano senior Calvin Wishart tries to soak in the final score, a 36-28 loss to Becker, Saturday night at Tiger Stadium.
Photo by Matt Kane

“We’ve played each other so many times; they know us and we know them. They have good players and we have good players. It really comes down to one play somewhere, and we happened to make that one plays somewhere along the line to win the game. We could do it again tomorrow and it might be their game,” said Bulldogs coach Dwight Lundeen, who is in his 47th season as the head man at Becker. “I have tremendous respect for Merrill Pavlovich and his Delano program. We love their field here, and it was a perfect night for football — for the players. The fans got a little cool, maybe, but not the players.”

It was Becker’s sixth playoff win over Delano in eight meetings since 2004.

Delano (7-2) was the No. 2 seed behind No. 1 Zimmerman, which was also upset Saturday night.

The Thunder, which gave the Tigers their only regular-season loss in Week 1, fell to No. 4 Big Lake 28-6 in Zimmerman. That leaves Becker and Big Lake to battle for the section championship in Monticello Saturday, Nov. 4, at 1 p.m.

Becker (6-4), the No. 3 seed in the section playoffs, scored touchdowns following three Delano turnovers. Two of those situations came in the fourth quarter, and helped the Bulldogs complete the comeback win.

In the fourth quarter, an interception by linebacker Lucas Dertinger with less than eight minutes to play in regulation led to Becker’s go-ahead drive. The pass went through the hands of Delano’s Calvin Wishart and to the hands of Dertinger, who returned the ball to inside the Delano 10-yard line.

A penalty set the ball up at the 5-yard line, where, on the first play, Sidney Boros, took the hand off and found the end zone. The touchdown and two-point pass from Dertinger to quarterback Josh Fobbe turned the score around, from a 22-21 Delano advantage to a 29-22 Becker lead.

Becker's Lucas Dertinger intercepts a pass intended for Sam Kern Saturday night in the fourth quarter of the Section 6-4A semifinal game at Tiger Stadium. Dertinger intercepted three passes in the fourth quarter. Becker won the game 36-28. Photo by Matt Kane

Becker’s Lucas Dertinger intercepts a pass intended for Sam Kern Saturday night in the fourth quarter of the Section 6-4A semifinal game at Tiger Stadium. Dertinger intercepted three passes in the fourth quarter. Becker won the game 36-28.
Photo by Matt Kane

Dertinger, who had three interceptions in the fourth quarter, intercepted his second-consecutive pass from Delano quarterback Mike Shoultz in as many plays on the Tigers’ responding possession, but, on the return, fumbled the ball back to Delano.

The Tigers gave the ball right back on the next play, when Sam Kern, who recovered the Dertinger fumble, fumbled, himself. Bayden Weber recovered the football for the Bulldogs at the Delano 48-yard line. Four plays later, Becker was back in the end zone on a three-yard run by Alex Blomgren, who also ran in a touchdown in the first quarter.

Dertinger’s extra-point kick extended Becker’s lead to 14 points, 36-22.

The Bulldogs needed the cushion, as the Tigers answered on the next possession, ending an eight-play, 62-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Shoultz to Garrett Kramp.

The two-point conversion run failed, settling the final score at 36-28.

Delano had one more possession with less than two minutes to play, but Dertinger’s third interception, this one on a leaping one-handed snag with 37 seconds remaining, ended any chance of a Tiger comeback.

Four Delano turnovers were certainly key to Becker’s victory, but, so, too was the field-position game.

“We punted more tonight than we probably punted in the first nine games. We usually like to go for it, but, with their stingy defense and us trying to make them go 90 yards, that was part of our game plan, to punt it in and down it,” said Lundeen, who was inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame a week earlier. “I think there were four or five times they had to start inside their own 10-yard line. That was a big part for us.”

The Bulldogs punted the football four times and downed the ball inside the Delano 10-yard line all four times. A fifth Tiger possession began inside their own 10 following a third-quarter interception by Paulson.

Becker had only one possession begin inside its own red zone, at the beginning of the second quarter. Two Bulldog possessions begin inside the Delano 10-yard line, both resulting in touchdowns.

Another problem the host Tigers struggled to deal with was the Bulldog running game, which features 1,000-yard rusher Sidney Boros.

Against Delano, Boros added 229 yards and two touchdowns to his season total.

“They have that Boros kid, who has some excellent speed,” said Delano’s Pavlovich of Becker’s running attack. “Several times, when he got to the edge, he busted it.”

Entering Saturday’s section title game against Big Lake, Boros has 1,509 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Becker ran for 310 yards against the Tigers, and, with 79 passing yards from Fobbe, finished with 389 total yards.

Both offenses were strong, as the Bulldogs and Tigers combined for 742 yards.

The passing game led the way for the Tigers, as Mike Shoultz completed 13-of-24 passes for 199 yards. Shoultz threw for three touchdowns, but was victimized by the three Dertinger interceptions.

Senior tight end Hunter Hart had a breakout game for the Tigers, catching six passes for 102 yards. He had two huge catches that helped keep Delano’s final scoring drive alive. The first went for 20 yards on a 3rd-and-10 play from midfield, and the second was an 18-yard catch-and-run on first down from the Becker 25-yard line.

Hart was left open underneath in the middle because of Becker’s insistence that Wishart, the state’s leading receiver, not tear the Bulldog defense apart all night.

“We double-teamed him every play and he still managed to catch several balls. One of the best high school receivers I’ve seen in awhile. He has great ups and great hands,” Lundeen said of Wishart, who caught four passes in the game for 45 yards and the touchdown. “I was very happy. We gave him a few catches and that was OK. We knew we would have to bend but not break with him.”

Wishart finished his one-and-only season with the Tigers with 1,296 yards and 14 touchdowns receiving.

Shoultz ended up with 1,484 yards and 20 touchdowns passing for his senior season.

Delano’s leading rusher, Kern, led the Tigers Saturday with 117 yards on 21 carries. He finishes his junior season with 999 rushing yards.

Delano’s ground game tallied 154 yards and one touchdown in the loss.

The host Tigers led first in the cat-vs-dog fight.

Following an interception by Jack Paulson — the first of two for the senior — on Becker’s first drive after the opening kickoff, Delano took an 8-0 lead on a one-yard run by Caden Link and a conversion run by Kern.

A three-yard touchdown run from Blomgren on the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession and a safety in the second quarter allowed Becker to tie the game, 8-8.

Delano stopped the extra-point conversion following the Blomgren touchdown, and the Tigers led by two points, 8-6. The game-tying safety came after a controversial reversal by the officials, who originally ruled a Becker punt as a touchback, only to change the call and determine that the ball was downed by a Bulldog cover man at the Delano 2-yard line.

On the first play, Kern was tackled by Brady Seeley in the end zone for the safety.

In the second half, the Bulldogs recovered a David Gerecke fumble at the Delano 8-yard line, and, three plays later, Fobbe was in the end zone on a six-yard run.

The kick by Dertinger gave Becker a 15-8 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was a slugfest.

Delano regained the lead on the first possession of the second half, capping a six-play, 68-yard drive with a 40-yard touchdown strike from Shoultz to Kern. A jump-ball connection from Kern to Wishart gave the Tigers a 16-15 lead.

That lead was short-lived — it lasted 20 seconds — as Boros took the ball 68 yards to the end zone on Becker’s first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive. The failed conversion left the Bulldogs with a 21-16 lead with nine minutes to play in the third quarter.

It was Delano’s turn, and the Tigers responded as expected, with a 54-yard touchdown drive. Wishart won a jump ball on pass from Shoultz for a five-yard touchdown pass. A failed conversion left Delano with another one-point lead, 22-21.

Paulson gave the Tiger offense a chance to add to the lead with his second interception, which came at the Tigers’ 7-yard line, but Delano was forced to punt on the sixth play of the possession.

Paulson is one of 17 senior who played his final game in a Delano uniform. The others are Shoultz, Wishart, Kramp, Gerecke, Tucker Hart, Cole Schansberg, Brendan Kalous, Camden Tschudi, Austin Ahlstrom, Andrean Ostrovsky, Steven Hajas, Jacob McDonald, Spencer Nelson, Billy Emmer, Wyatt McClay and Chase Carlson.

Hajas and Ostrovsky finished their final games with 12 tackles each. Paulson had eight tackles to go along with his two interceptions.

Hajas finished the season with 121 tackels.

DELANO 36, BECKER 28

Saturday, Oct. 28

Tiger Stadium

1 2 3 4 – F

Becker 6 9 6 14 – 36

Delano 8 0 14 6 – 28

Scoring

First Quarter

6:08: D – Link 1-yard run (Kern run), 8-0

2:13: B – Blomgren 3-yard run (run failed), 8-6

Second Quarter

6:36: B – Safety by Seeley, 8-8

3:34: B – Fobbe 6-yard run to Dertinger (Dertinger run), 8-15

Third Quarter

9:22: D – Shoultz 40-yard pass to Kern (Kern pass to Wishart), 16-21

9:02: B – Boros 68-yard run (pass failed), 16-21

5:01: D – Shoultz 5-yard pass to Wishart (run failed), 22-21

Fourth Quarter

9:30: B – Boros 5-yard run (Dertinger pass to Fobbe), 22-29

7:45: B – Blomgren 3-yard run (Dertinger kick), 22-36

4:43: D – Shoultz 19-yard pass to Kramp (run failed), 28-36

Statistics

TEAM Total Yards: Delano 353; Becker 389. Rushing: Delano 38-154 TD; Becker 45-310 5TD. Passing: Delano 13/25-199 3TD 3INT; Becker 6/12-79 2INT.

INDIVIDUALS Rushing: Delano — Kern 21-117, Wishart 3-30, Link 6-27 TD, Gerecke 1-0, Shoultz 8–20. Passing: Delano — Shoultz 13/24-199 3TD 3INT, Otto 0/1-0; Becker — Fobbe 6/12 2INT. Receiving: Delano — Hart 6-102, Kern 2-42 TD, Wishart 4-45 TD, Kramp 1-19 TD. Interceptions: Delano — Paulson 2; Becker — Dertinger 3.

FB: Tigers finish regular season with win over Watertown-Mayer

Matt Kane
Sports Editor

DELANO — Delano will roll into the Section 6-4A playoffs off a seven-game winning streak thanks to a 26-6 home win over Watertown-Mayer Wednesday night at Tiger Stadium.

The overmatched Royals (1-7), whose roster is thin, gave the host Tigers (7-1) a battle early, as the game went scoreless until midway through the second quarter.

Delano scored two touchdowns in that second quarter and one each in the third and fourth.

“It was a focus thing. We came in thinking we would dominate them. It took the first two quarters to get it rolling,” said senior safety Jack Paulson, who had a big interception that led to the Tigers’ first touchdown. “We got the W and it’s on to sections now.”

Delano senior Jack Paulson intercepts a pass in the second quarter Wednesday night during Delano's regular-season finale against Watertown-Mayer. The interception and return set up the Tigers' first touchdown. Delano won the game 26-6. Photo by Matt Kane

Delano senior Jack Paulson intercepts a pass in the second quarter Wednesday night during Delano’s regular-season finale against Watertown-Mayer. The interception and return set up the Tigers’ first touchdown. Delano won the game 26-6.
Photo by Matt Kane

The Tigers broke the ice with 6:20 to play in the first half, on a one-yard sneak by quarterback Mike Shoultz.

The missed extra-point left Delano with a 6-0 lead.

Shoultz’s touchdown run came on the ninth play of a 27-yard drive. The short field came courtesy of Paulson’s interception and 54-yard return.

“That was probably the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. That feeling is just great,” said Paulson of the pick. “Then, having the offense score and finish the play was amazing.”

Watertown-Mayer answered the Delano touchdown run with a drive that took the ball to the Tigers’ 15-yard line. The drive stalled with no points when a field-goal attempt by Derrick Bakke shot to the left of the goal post.

The Tigers made the missed field goal hurt more with a touchdown drive that covered 80 yards in just five plays.

The trip down the field was made quick by receiver Calvin Wishart, who caught a 44-yard pass from Max Otto on a halfback pass, and two plays later, caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Shoultz.

The conversion failed, and Delano took a 12-0 lead into halftime.

The Tigers scored a touchdown in each of the final two quarters. Caden Link ran the ball in from three yards out with three minutes to play in the third quarter, and Camden Tschudi scored on a three-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Delano’s post-touchdown woes continued all game. The only extra points the Tigers scored came on a pass from Shoultz to Wishart following the Tschudi touchdown.

At the request of the Watertown-Mayer coaches, the fourth quarter was played under a running clock. The only question about that final quarter was whether or not the Tiger defense could pick up the shutout, which would have been the first of the season.

The Royals put an end to that thought with a 62-yard drive that came on the heels of Tschudi’s touchdown.

A pass completion from Jackson Lague to Mason Pothen covered 30 yards of the 11-play drove. A six-yard pass from Lague to fullback Zac Neaton resulted in the touchdown.

The extra-point kick by Bakke was blocked, settling the score at 26-6.

Delano’s defense was stingy all night, limiting the Royals to 180 yards of offense. Pothen had 67 yards receiving for Watertown-Mayer.

The lead Tigers were seniors Steven Hajas and Jacob McDonald, both of whom made 10 tackles.

Hajas had a quarterback sack, as well. His 10 tackles gives him 109 for the season, ranking him second in the state.

“Defensively, I thought we did alright,” said Delano coach Merrill Pavlovich. “Offensively, at times we moved the ball. I thought we could throw the ball a lot more than we did.”

The offensive success for Delano came on the ground, where five runners combined for 238 yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries.

Junior Sam Kern led the Tigers with 86 yards on 12 carries.

The Tigers threw for 125 yards, and finished with 363 total yards of offense.

Only two receivers caught passes for the Tigers.

Wishart caught seven passes for 121 yards and the touchdown. Christopher Glunz caught one ball for four yards.

Wishart passed the 1,000 yards mark five days earlier, with a 303-yard night in a win at Litchfield. His performance Wednesday night increased his state-leading receiving numbers to 1,251 yards and a 156 yards-per-game average. Wishart’s 13 touchdown catches is fourth best.

To put into perspective how impressive Wishart’s single season has been, consider his 1,251 yards on 52 catches is just four yards less than the 1,255 yards Kraft gained on 53 catches during his junior and senior seasons combined.

Thanks to his brother-like connection with Wishart, Shoultz, too, is moving up the Delano passing list.

Shoultz’s second-quarter touchdown pass to Wishart gives him 25 career touchdown passes, which is one more than Toby Hanson threw for in two season (2012-2013).

Hanson’s career passing yards mark of 2,139 yards is also in jeopardy. After throwing for 81 yards Wednesday, Shoultz is 10 yards shy with 2,129 yards in two seasons.

Shoultz’s has 1,285 yards passing and 17 touchdowns for the season. He sits just 151 yards shy of the single-season mark of 1,436 passing yards thrown by Hanson during that 2013 campaign, and is one touchdown pass shy of Cody Mathisen’s 18 thrown in 2011.

(The Hanson and Mathisen statistics are tops for statistics found online, dating back to 2008. They are not official records.)

While these individual numbers are impressive, coach Pavlovich made sure his players know football is a team game.

“I told our kids, ‘We are a good football team.’ In the huddle, I told them that everybody made contributions. It wasn’t about Calvin’s big year or Kern having a big year or Mikey Shoultz, everyone made a valid contribution to allow those things to happen,” the coach said. “It’s still all about team.”

The team effort helped Delano recover from a less-than-impressive first half.

The Royals made things difficult for the Tiger offense early via the two first-quarter interceptions on passes intended for Wishart.

Pothen intercepted both passes. He picked off an overthrown ball on Delano’s first play from scrimmage, and, later in the quarter, was in the right place when Jake Hanley broke up a pass to Wishart at the goal line.

I’ve got a lot of respect for Watertown,” said Pavlovich. “With that number of kids, I thought those kids were well-prepared and they played hard.”

For Delano, which received the No. 2 seed  for the section tournament, it is time to relax.

“I gave the kids four days off. I’m going fishing. I don’t care what they do, just get away from football for four days, and get away from me,” said Pavlovich. “Come back Monday ready to go.”

Delano will play either No. 3 Becker (4-4) or No. 6 Princeton (0-8) Saturday, Oct. 28, at home at 7 p.m.

Zimmerman (8-0), which handed Delano its only loss of the season on Week 1, is the No. 1 seed and also has a bye Tuesday night. The Thunder will host either No. 4 Big Lake (3-5) or No. 5 Foley (2-6).

What’s nice about not playing Tuesday is we have a full week to prepare. Those teams playing on Tuesday will have to play on Saturday, and that’s a lot of football,” said Pavlovich. “This sequence of Wednesday-Tuesday-Saturday is a lot of football.”

 

DELANO 26, Watertown-Mayer 6

Wednesday, Oct. 18

Delano High School

1 2 3 4 – F

Watertown 0 0 0 6 – 6

Delano 0 12 6 8 – 26

Scoring

First Quarter

No scoring

Second Quarter

D – Shoultz 1-yard run (kick failed), 6-0

D – Shoultz 37-yard pass to Wishart (run failed), 12-0

Third Quarter

D – Link 3-yard run (kick failed), 18-0

Fourth Quarter

D – Tschudi 3-yard run (Shoultz pass to Wishart), 26-0

WM – Lague 7-yard pass to Neaton (kick blocked), 26-6

Statistics

TEAM Total Yards: Delano 363; Watertown-Mayer 180. Rushing: Delano 45-238 3TD; Watertown-Mayer 27-71. Passing: Delano 8/14-125 TD 2INT; Watertown-Mayer 11/17-109 TD INT.

INDIVIDUALS Rushing: Delano — Kern 12-86, Link 19-76 TD, Shoultz 5-39 TD, Gerecke 5-30, Tschudi 4-7 TD; Watertown-Mayer — Neaton 4-29, Nolan 9-28, Entinger 8-18, Lague 1-2, Nowlan 4-1, Dulas 1–7. Passing: Delano — Shoultz 7/13-81 TD 2INT, Otto 1/1-44; Watertown-Mayer — Lague 7/12-71 TD INT, Dulas 3/4-25, Nolan 1/1-13. Receiving: Delano — Wishart 7-121 TD, Glunz 1-4; Watertown-Mayer — Pothen 5-67, Neaton 2-15 TD, Hanley 1-14, Entinger 1-8, Nolan 2-5. Tackles: Delano — Hajas 10, McDonald 10; Watertown-Mayer — Juusola 10. QB Sacks: Delano — Hajas. Interceptions: Delano — Paulson; Watertown-Mayer — Pothen 2.

One injured in Highway 12 crash

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, MN – A Buffalo woman was injured in a crash at the intersection of Wright County Road 14 and Highway 12 around 5:58 p.m. Thursday.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, a 2002 Saturn 200 sedan driven by Loretta Mulqueen, 64, of Buffalo, was southbound on County Road 14 when it pulled out from the intersection and was struck by a westbound 2003 Ford Explorer driven by Lillian Mae Sarkinen, 77, of Waverly.

Mulqueen was transported to Ridgeview Hospital in Waconia with non-critical injuries.

Sarkinen was not injured.

Both were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash and alcohol was not a factor, according to the State Patrol.

The Wright County Sheriff’s Office, Delano Fire Department, and Ridgeview Ambulance assisted at the scene.

Bicyclist hit by car on Highway 12

DELANO, MN – A Delano man was injured when he was hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle across Highway 12 Wednesday morning.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, a 2001 Honda Civic driven by Timothy Gosswiller, of Cokato, was eastbound on Highway 12 and traveling in the right turn lane near Seventh Street when it struck a bicycle ridden by Mark Kangas, 44, of Delano.

Kangas was transported to Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia with non-critical injuries. Kangas was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Gosswiller was not injured.

Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, according to MSP.

The Wright County Sheriff’s Office and Delano Fire Department assisted at the scene.

The crash occurred at about 7:08 a.m.

Independence man charged following prostitution sting

ST PAUL, MN – An Independence man is among four who have been charged with prostitution following a sting in St. Paul, according to a formal complaint.

Joshua Duane Kiecker, 36, of Independence, was charged by summons for agreeing to hire an individual younger than 16 to engage in sexual contact.

According to the complaint, law enforcement officers posted an advertisement on backpage.com in the dating section of “Women for Men,” a section commonly known for prostitution ads.

The posting advertised an 18-year-old girl and pictured a very young looking female.

Kiecker allegedly texted the number on the ad requesting availability and rates Aug. 3. When he asked how old she was, the undercover officer responded that she was 15.

Kiecker reportedly agreed to meet the girl at a hotel in St. Paul, where he was arrested by waiting law enforcement.

Kiecker is due to appear in court Thursday, Oct. 19.

If convicted, Kiecker could face up to 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.

Dennis John Fix, 46, of Pine City; Deangelo Jermaine Verdell, 33, of South St. Paul; and Kevin Allen Frahm, 49, of Hutchinson, were also charged in connection with the sting, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Pipe bomb discovered in mailbox in Watertown Township

WATERTOWN TOWNSHIP, MN – Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson reports that at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, deputies responded to investigate a report of an undetonated “pipe bomb” inside a mailbox located near the intersection of Carver County Road 20 and County Road 127 in Watertown Township.

The responding deputies summoned assistance from Bloomington Police Department Bomb Squad and Watertown Fire Department.

The Bloomington Police Bomb Technicians responded to the scene and safely detonated the device.

Deputies collected debris and thoroughly checked the area for additional undetonated devices, debris or other evidence.

There were no injuries or permanent property damage in this incident.

The matter remains under investigation by the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.