Bucs win a fight to the finish
Blue Earth Area head football coach Randy Kuechenmeister called the Buccaneers’ last playoff battle on Oct. 28 with Waterville-Elysian-Morristown “a classic high school football game.” The heart-pounding finish proved to live up to that billing.
BEA quarterback Hunter Bleess threw two touchdowns in the first half. The first scoring strike happened in the first period when senior receiver Jacob Vaske hauled in a pass of 15 yards. In the second quarter, Bleess found Jonah Legred for a six yard touchdown connection.
However, WEM evened up the score with touchdowns in the second and third quarters. From there, both teams fought tirelessly to a stalemate as the game was knotted at 14-14 well into the fourth quarter.
On their last offensive possession of the ballgame, Blue Earth Area marched into field goal range with about one minute remaining. Facing a fourth down, BEA coach Kuechenmeister entertained the thought of a 31-yard field goal attempt to break the tie.
With six receptions to that point and a touchdown earlier in the game, Jacob Vaske confidently told his coach that he could get open if given the opportunity. The coach decided to roll the dice and trust in his leading receiver.
“He thought he could get open on a come back route, so we just called what he was comfortable with,” Kuechenmeister said. “The defense was blitzing us the whole game, but our offensive line handled the pressure and gave Hunter enough time to deliver the ball.”
The result of the play was a 13-yard touchdown pass to Vaske that gave Blue Earth Area a 21-14 advantage. With 106 yards receiving on the night, Vaske became the first Buccaneer receiver to eclipse the 100 yard plateau in a game this season. The excitement was only beginning as the stout Bucs defense now had to preserve the lead.
Starting from their own 37-yard line and with timeouts remaining, Waterville was able to have success moving the ball against Blue Earth Area’s prevent defense. Waterville was closing in on the red zone of BEA when they eventually faced a fourth down situation.
With Blue Earth Area’s 15-yard line being the line to gain, BEA’s top tacklers Joe Schavey, Koby Nagel, and Trevor Oppedal buckled up their chin straps and got to work.
The rugged team of tacklers sniffed out a slip screen to the running back and swarmed to the football. They were able to secure the tackle a few yards shy of the first down marker with six seconds remaining in the contest.
After the game, coach Kuechenmeister spoke of how well his team performed under pressure against the second seeded team in their section.
“Emotions always get involved in a game like that, but you’ve got to be able to stay as calm as possible,” Kuechenmeister said. “The kids played really well in that situation and they’ve earned the right to play another playoff game.”
Blue Earth Area challenged top-seeded Maple River (8-1) in Janesville on Friday, Nov. 3 for the Section 2AA Championship and a trip to the state tournament.
Results and photos from that playoff game will be available in the next edition of the Faribault County Register.