Willmar mauled by Tigers

WILLMAR -- Willmar fans got a look at one of the state's premier football programs Tuesday night. It was sobering. The Hutchinson Tigers gave up an early field goal, and then rang up the next 31 points in a 31-3 victory in the Section 2AAAA playo...

WILLMAR -- Willmar fans got a look at one of the state's premier football programs Tuesday night.

It was sobering. The Hutchinson Tigers gave up an early field goal, and then rang up the next 31 points in a 31-3 victory in the Section 2AAAA playoff opener before a crowd approaching 900 fans at Hodapp Field.

The Tigers are aiming for an incredible 10th straight slot in the Class AAAA state tournament. Starting in 1997, they are unbeaten in 27 section games. Still, Willmar was convinced it could end the Tigers' reign.

Linebacker Justin Schwie-ger found no consolation in losing to a certified state powerhouse.

"We wanted to end this dynasty," said the senior, who was credited with 22 tackles (about six above his average) in his final game. "But they pretty much stuck it to us. We just got outplayed."


Hutchinson's efficient running game rolled up 375 yards in 49 totes and had 438 total yards to Willmar's 200.

Fleet-of-foot Josh Wendland, a first-year quarterback, ran the option to perfection in the first half. When he threw, he was on target.

"We didn't cover the quarterback on the option and he was running free," explained Schwieger. "Their line gets into their blocks and really drives. They're not big, but solid on fundamentals."

The Cardinals opened the game impressively. Starting at their own six after a holding penalty on the kickoff, quarterback Michael Dunham directed a drive that got all the way to the Hutchinson 10-yard line.

Dunham, who missed the Moorhead start with an ankle sprain, dashed 14 yards to the 38. The drive stalled at mid-field, but a five-yard roughing the punter penalty picked up a first down at the Hutchinson 40. Cory Hanson sliced for six yards and then Dunham, who completed his first five passes, threw to Brown in the flat for a 24-yard gain to the 11.

But Willmar had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Jordan Smith.

Hutchinson took their first possession 65 yards for a 7-3 lead at 1:21 of the first quarter. Five running plays, including a 23-yard keeper by Wendland, were followed by a perfect pass from Wendland to Tait Adams as he crossed the goal line.

The Tigers then stopped Willmar and marched 66 yards in 12 plays for another score. A short dive by Brian Renkes finished it off.


Willmar had good field position after each Hutchinson score, but couldn't move the ball. Adams intercepted Dunham at the 20 and the Tigers beat the clock down the field to set up a 36-yard field goal by Brian Meuleners for a 17-3 halftime lead.

The Tigers took the second-half kickoff down the field for a 24-3 lead. Fullback Jay Thunstrom, a stocky fullback, did all the damage in the second half, running for all but 30 of 203 his yards.

The only time Willmar got anything going post-intermission was after Hanson stripped the ball from Thunstrom and ran to the Willmar 26. A couple of Hanson first-down runs and a 15-yard pass to Smith got it to the 15. But Hanson suffered a hip bruise on a shovel pass and the effort ran out of downs.

"It's the worst way for your senior year to end," said Andy Boersma, one of four three-time senior letterwinners. "They just wanted it more. That was obvious."

The players, especially the 22 seniors, seemed to take little solace that their four wins ranked as the most since the 2000 Cardinals and the 4-3 Central Lakes record also the best since that team.

Hutchinson 31, Willmar 3

Hutchinson (5-4)............7 10 7 7 -- 31

Willmar (4-5)...................3 0 0 0 -- 3


Wil - Jordan Smith 26 field goal

Hut - Tait Adams 25 pass from Josh Wendland (Brian Meuleners kick)

Hut - Brian Renkes 1 run (Meuleners kick)

Hut - Meuleners 36 field goal

Hut - Renkes 1 run (Meuleners kick)

Hut - Jay Thunstrom 1 run (Meuleners kick)


Team statistics


First downs: 19 ... Rushing: 49-375 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 4-8-63-0 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 6-45

Individual statistics

Rushing: Jay Thunstrom 27-203, Corey Shufelt 7-29, Josh Wendland 10-119, Brian Renkes 3-6, , Mark Runke 2-18 ... Passing: Wendland 7-8-63-0... Receiving: Tait Adams 2-41, Brady Hendricks 2-22 ... Punting: none ... Interceptions: Hendricks ... Fumble recoveries: Eric Westlund


Team statistics

First downs: 11 ... Rushing: 33-112 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 8-14-88-1 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 4-35

Individual statistics

Rushing: Levi Brown 3-6, Alec Saunders 3-10, Brenden Jahnke 3-23, Cory Hanson 13-66, Michael Dunham 5-10, Andy Boersma 4-(-3) ... Passing: Dunham 8-14-88-1 ... Receiving: Jordan Smith 2-32, Boersma 2-13, Brown 1-24, Jon Leaks 1-5, Hanson 2-14 ... Punting: Jordan Smith 2-32.0... Interceptions: none... Fumble recoveries: Hanson ... Tackles (solo-assist): Joel Schendel 0-1k, Mitch Schneider 2-1, Cory Hanson 2-5, Jarod Hennen 6-4, Adam Lindblad 1-1, Brett Blomquist 2-0, Adam Schow 1-4, Josh Mead 1-6, Branden Jahnke 0-1, Ben Lippert 3-10, Justin Schwiger 7-15, Jake Morris 0-1, Noel Anderson 1-0, Kent Underland 0-2, Adam Kremer 1-6, Thomas Boike 0-1 ... QB sacks: none

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