Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.
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The New London-Spicer football team occasionally reflects back on its disappointing loss to St. Croix Lutheran in the Class AAA state championship game last season. The game even inspired the team’s motto for 2014, “New Team, Same Dream.” It was great motivation along the way as the Wildcats clawed their way back to the state title game at 1 p.m. today against Rochester Lourdes at TCF Bank Stadium. But now, their mantra is more along the lines of “One More Win.” “It’s still in the back of our minds sometimes,” said NLS all-purpose threat Shane Zylstra.
As the BOLD football team prepares to play for the Class AA state championship in its final game of the season, it was their first game of 2014 that provided significant motivation to getting the Warriors to this point. The 12-1 Warriors play 10-3 Holdingford for the state title at 1 p.m. Friday at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. BOLD is riding a 12-game winning streak, during which the Warriors have averaged 37 points per game while allowing fewer than 10 points per game.
EDEN PRAIRIE — All season long, the New London-Spicer offense made plays in a number of ways that kept defenses guessing. Trey Austvold, when healthy, pin-balled between the tackles, ducking and darting for tough yards. Quarterback Ethan Bohlsen flipped passes to Shane Zylstra, James Magnuson and other Wildcat receivers.
EDEN PRAIRIE — If ever a day was perfectly made for BOLD football, Saturday was it. Eden Prairie’s Aerie Field was snow-coated and slick and light snow fell throughout the day.
Moving from tight end to quarterback would seem to be a demanding switch, but for New London-Spicer’s Ethan Bohlsen it was merely getting back to what he knows best. “I’ve been a quarterback all my life,” said Bohlsen, a senior who will lead the 10-1 Wildcats against Glencoe-Silver Lake at 3 p.m. today in the Class AAA state semifinals at Eden Prairie High School. “Last year, with Ryan (Vraa) there, it was a little different for me. But I liked it.” Bohlsen, at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, is a prototypical prep tight end and he was the Wildcats’ backup quarterback behind Vraa.
New London-Spicer piled up 626 total yards and destroyed Esko 52-27 in the Class AAA quarterfinals on Saturday in St. Cloud.
ALEXANDRIA — The night was perfect for good, old-fashioned punch-‘em-up football and the BOLD Warriors proved to have the heavier hands. The one-loss Warriors and undefeated Hawley battled high winds and wet footing throughout the Class AA state quarterfinals game Friday, with BOLD emerging with a 21-9 win. The Warriors, now 11-1, advance to play Caledonia in the state semifinals at noon next Saturday at Eden Prairie High School. Caledonia (12-0) advanced with a 20-12 win over Maple Lake on Friday in Rochester. The last time the two teams — both nicknamed Warriors — met, Caledonia
The 2013 New London-Spicer football team had plenty of firecrackers it could spark up on offense: 2,400-yard rusher Adam Essler breaking ankles with his fits-and-starts style, quarterback Ryan Vraa firing passes to his fast-twitch receivers and fullback Ben Beuning bludgeoning the middle to open up all the outside stuff. Together, it was a powder keg that propelled NLS to the Class AAA state championship game. But most of those guys are gone, and this year the Wildcats’ offense has just Shane Zylstra back to reproduce all the eye-popping fireworks needed to dazzle — and defeat — opponent
New London-Spicer's Shane Zylstra scored three touchdowns and the Wildcats held Melrose's running attack in check in a 30-15 win in the Section 6AAA title game Saturday in St. Cloud
MORRIS — BOLD’s brand of smash-mouth offense, stingy defense football was perfect for the cold conditions on Friday at Big Cat Stadium. Brad Wolff scored four touchdowns and the Warriors’ defense limited Paynesville’s high-powered attack to about half its usual yards in a 34-8 victory in the Section 5AA championship game. BOLD took advantage of good field position and a Max Buchtel interception to set up four scores and the Warriors rolled up 170 rushing yards, just enough to keep Paynesville quarterback Matthew Quade and an offense that averaged 50 points per game on the sidelines. “