Recapping the Bucs magical march to state in 2017
As far as I can see, the summer months always pose a problem for your average football fanatic. While the regular season is right around the corner, there simply isn’t much to get excited about in the meantime.
That being said, allow me to try and fill in the gap by writing about the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers and recap their improbable postseason run in 2017. Simply put, it was a roller-coaster ride of emotions for Blue Earth’s hometown football team.
The Bucs got off to an inauspicious beginning, dropping their first two games of the campaign. In the season opener, BEA faced a familiar foe as they traveled to Fairmont to take on the Cardinals in a classic rivalry match-up.
Although it was a closely contested ballgame, throughout, the Bucs came up on the short end of a 13-0 final score. It was the third consecutive year in which Fairmont was able to defeat Blue Earth Area and retain the coveted Little Brown Jug.
In the season’s second game, the Buccaneers suffered a heartbreaking 27-26 defeat against Redwood Valley. A missed field goal on the Bucs final offensive drive sealed BEA’s fate.
Suddenly, the Buccaneers gained momentum and managed to win their next three ballgames. Not only did the Bucs enjoy consecutive victories over Jackson County Central, Martin County West and Windom, but they were utterly dominant during that span.
The Buccaneers outscored their opponents 73-20 over the course of their three-game winning streak. In my opinion, the 2017 Buccaneers established their identity during this stretch; running the ball effectively on offense while also forcing the opposition into third-and-long situations gave BEA a major advantage most of the time.
Just when BEA fans were feeling enthusiastic about their team’s new found confidence on the gridiron, the Buccaneers faultered as the calendar moved into October. The maroon and gold suffered two consecutive shutout losses; a 22-0 defeat against Luverne on Oct. 6, and a 7-0 loss to Pipestone on Oct. 13.
Heading into their Oct. 18 regular season finale against St. James, the Buccaneers record stood at a mediocre 3-4 on the year. What happened next was something not even the most optimistic Buc fan could have ever anticipated.
Blue Earth Area steamrolled right through the Saints of St. James on their way to a decisive 40-0 win. The Bucs carried the momentum from that game into the Section 2AA playoffs, where they treated the home fans to a dominant showing in their opening round win over the Medford Tigers, 34-15.
Playing as the third seed in their playoff bracket, the Blue Earth Area Bucs went on the road on Oct. 28 to face their namesake in the next round, second seeded Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
As it turned out, the maroon and gold Bucs defeated the other Bucs, 21-14 in a heart-pounding finish. With less than a minute remaining and the game tied at 14 apiece, BEA quarterback Hunter Bleess found an open Jacob Vaske on fourth down for a 13-yard touchdown to seal the victory.
As the Buccaneers advanced to the section championship against Maple River, they needed even more late-game heroics to qualify for state competition. It turned out that the Bucs got exactly what they were hoping for, but from a very unlikely source.
With 18 seconds to go, and the Bucs trailing 10-8, German foreign exchange student Alexander Reese picked the perfect time to convert his first field goal of the season. The junior nailed a 23-yard field goal from the right hash mark to clinch the section championship for Blue Earth Area.
To think that a young man, who spends most of his days adjusting to an entirely new culture, can just enter a pressure packed high school playoff game and boot the winning field goal to send his team to state, is virtually unheard of. If one was to write up a movie script, and insert that type of sub-plot into the script, film directors would likely claim the ending is too far-fetched to be believable.
Unfortunately for the BEA faithful, the Buccaneer season ended the following week with a 19-12 loss to Pipestone on Nov. 10. Nonetheless, I think I speak for a host of Blue Earth area residents when I say that the twists and turns of BEA’s 2017 high school football season were able to produce memories that I will not soon forget.