Saturday, June 23, 2018
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Swedes power past Chadron

Gothenburg advances to third round of playoffs

CHADRON—It isn’t smoke and mirrors.

Gothenburg football coach Craig Haake says it wasn’t some kind of magic trickery that got his team into the Class C-1 state playoffs and no witchcraft was involved in the Halloween shutout victory at Chadron last week to advance the Swedes into the third round.

It was simply hard hitting, never-back-down football.

“It wasn’t a fluke,” Haake said of Gothenburg’s 12-0 second-round victory over Chadron. “We beat the crap out of Cozad in the first round and we beat the crap out of Chadron in the second round. If we played them again, I don’t think it would be any different.”

The Swedes are on a roll, he said. It’s as simple as that.

And Gothenburg rolled past the Cardinals on the road Oct. 31, leaving no doubt who controlled the game.

“We were able to disrupt the timing of their passing plays,” Haake said. “We got up in their faces, we bumped them off their route and we pressured the quarterback every play.”

The Swedes used a three- or four-man defensive line, leaving more players for coverage against Chadron’s pass-heavy offense.

“It’s not very often you can put your defensive end out in pass coverage,” Haake said.

Tanner Borchardt, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, was intimidating against Chadron’s 6-foot-6 main receiver Spencer Eliason.

“Normally (Eliason) is the biggest kid on the field but we were able to shut him down with an even bigger kid,” Haake said.

The Swedes held Chadron to 81 yards rushing and 69 yards passing for a total of 150 yards offense while more than doubling the Cardinals by racking up 477 total yards themselves.

“I was pretty sure we’d be able to run the ball,” the coach said. “I had no idea we’d be able to run that successfully.”

Five Swedes ran for 364 yards with another 116 added through the air.

Gothenburg used both attack possibilities to score.

In their second drive of the game, the Swedes received a punt and marched the ball into the endzone with 12 consecutive ground plays from their own 14 yard line.

Quarterback Blake Ristine scored on a keeper play from the 1 yard line with 10:52 left in the second quarter.

The two-point conversion failed, leaving Gothenburg with a 6-0 lead.

Chadron posed little threat in the first half, gaining only 18 positive yards.

“We completely took them out of their offense,” Haake said.

Gothenburg opened the third quarter with a solid drive, marching from the Swede 23 yard line to the Chadron 1 yard line, fueled by a 30-yard scamper by Preston Franzen.

But a fumble two plays later had Gothenburg sweating as Chadron’s Colin Deines picked up the fumble and headed down field.

He ran 31 yards before he was caught by the ankle by Swede nose guard Adam Speck.

Gothenburg forced the Cardinals to punt but fumbled on the return, giving them a second chance.

Chadron gained 11 yards on the next drive and reached the Swede 13 yard line but was forced to settle for a field goal attempt.

The kick was blocked by Ristine to prevent the score.

Chadron threatened again at the end of the third period but Ristine picked off a pass to stop the drive and end the quarter with a 6-0 Swede advantage.

After a long series of running plays in which Ristine watched the clock to make sure and use up every second possible, the Swedes turned the ball over on downs at the Cardinal 30 yard line.

Another interception by Ristine turned back the Cardinals and set up Gothenburg’s second scoring play.

On third-and-4, Ristine connected with Logan Koehler for a 64-yard scoring play.

The two-point conversion run failed but Gothenburg had a comfortable 12-0 lead with just under three minutes to play.

Preston Franzen finished with 147 yards rushing on 18 carries and Logan Sheets added 108 yards on 19 carries.

Ristine completed 5-of-6 passes for 113 yards including two receptions for 78 yards total by Koehler.

“If we continue to play the way we played against Chadron, we could be playing awhile,” Haake said.

The win advanced the Swedes to the third round of the Class C-1 state playoffs, facing Boone Central/Newman Grove in a Tuesday afternoon matchup that finished after press time.

Haake said he expected his young team to go into the game against the No. 1 seed in the west bracket with pride and confidence.

“We don’t mind being the underdog,” the coach said. “I’m guessing with a pair of playoff shutouts, we’ve already caught their eye. We’re just going to go play our game as best we can and be proud of the effort regardless of outcome.”

Complete results of the Tuesday game at Albion will be in next week’s issue of The Times.