ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Football: It's New London-Spicer's big 'O' vs. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton's big 'D'

Wildcats' high-powered offense must deal with Rebels' sturdy, experienced defense in Class AAA title game at the Prep Bowl

NLS junior Lucas Swenson crosses the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown run during the Class AAA state semifinals against Watertown-Mayer on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
NLS junior Lucas Swenson crosses the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown run during the Class AAA state semifinals against Watertown-Mayer on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINNEAPOLIS — Down but never out. Finding a way.

Through four postseason games, New London-Spicer has trailed in all of them before marching their way to victories.

Related Stories:
Top teams: Class A - Big Lake, Class AA - St. Cloud
Top teams: Class AAAA - Hopkins, Class AAA - Benilde-St. Margaret's, Class AA - Providence Academy, Class A - Mountain Iron-Buhl
Wildcats earn their season-best team score in a dominating fashion
Prep wrestling report for Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in west central Minnesota. By beating the Crush, the Cardinals haven't lost a CLC dual since 2023

Now the Wildcats have punched their ticket into the Prep Bowl for the third time in program history, where they will face the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Rebels at 1 p.m. Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"My guess is nobody expected it except for us," NLS head coach Chad Gustafson said. "But, of course, our kids believe in each other. We're super excited to be representing (New London-Spicer) and be playing for the state championship."

The Wildcats, who are out-scoring their opponents 99-62 in the postseason, will look to score the game's opening touchdown Saturday for the first time in playoff play.

ADVERTISEMENT

NLS Wildcats vs. Pierz 102922.004.jpg
Wildcats senior split end Brycen Christensen looks to make a stiff arm play during a Section 6AAA playoffs game against the Pierz Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

NLS' 33-28 win over Watertown-Mayer in the Class AAA semifinals marked the first postseason game the Wildcats held a lead into halftime.

"The most impressive thing is (the kids) just don't get rattled. We've talked about being resilient. We've talked about believing in each other and supporting one another and it shows on the field," Gustafson said. "There's no panic at all when we don't score. They know that. They believe in each other that it's going to turn our way."

On the opposing sideline, D-G-F is one win away from topping off its historic season with a Prep Bowl title. The Rebels remain unbeaten through eight regular season and four postseason games.

Saturday's championship game will mark the Rebels' first appearance in the Prep Bowl in program history. Including this postseason, D-G-F has appeared in the state tournament eight times.

"(The kids) now have an opportunity in front of them to write a little bit of history," D-G-F head coach Anthony Soderberg said. "The kids have worked hard and this is a big opportunity. It's a big event for both communities and just making it to the game is pretty special."

D-G-F vs. Fairmont 111922.002.jpg
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton sophomore linebacker Caleb Johnson breaks up a pass attempt by Cardinals quarterback Brendan Schmidtke during a Class AAA semifinal against Fairmont on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

D-G-F enters the Prep Bowl with a core of experienced players.

Leafing the way is Rebels quarterback/free safety Owen Leach and running back/strong safety Jordan Summers. Both have played since they were freshman. Left guard/nose guard Victor Sosa has played both sides of the ball for three years. Right tackle/defensive tackle Max Baumgartner has played both ways for two years. These four seniors serve as D-G-F's captains.

"Experience is a big thing with this group," Soderberg said. "It's hard to frazzle this group. I think that's why we're at that 12-0 mark."

ADVERTISEMENT

That experience and mental toughness has helped the Rebels to win close games. Six of their 12 victories this season have come in one-possession games.

"We've definitely been battle-tested," Soderberg said. "We've had some close, nerve-wracking games to the point where it's not nerve-wracking anymore."

NLS Wildcats vs. Milaca 111022.004.jpg
NLS Wildcats junior running back Mason Delzer reaches his arm out for a stiff arm during a Class AAA quarterfinals game against the Milaca Wolves on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at Elk River High School in Elk River.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

D-G-F's defense has allowed 40 points through four postseason games.

The Rebels' defense will have the task of stopping an NLS offense that is averaging 24.75 points per game in the playoffs.

"I would say that's been the strength of the D-G-F football program for a long time," Soderberg said of his team's defense, which is coached by long-time defensive coordinator Jesse Barnacle. "It's playing sound, fundamental defense, focusing on tackling, keeping things in front of you and making people earn those points."

D-G-F operates as a run-heavy offense led by Summers, who ran for 168 yards and one touchdown on 33 attempts in the Rebels' 16-7 win over Fairmont in the Class AAA semifinals before exiting the game with a knee injury.

Soderberg declined to comment on Summers' status for Saturday's title game Monday morning. If Summers is unable to go, it would come as a major loss for the Rebels' offense.

D-G-F vs. Fairmont 111922.003.jpg
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton senior running back Jordan Summers catches the ball during a Class AAA semifinal against Fairmont on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Summers has eclipsed 2,000 rushing yards with 2,186 yards and 22 touchdowns on 336 carries through 12 games. He is averaging 182.2 rushing yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry this season, according to MN Football Hub .

ADVERTISEMENT

"(Jordan)'s a tough kid. I can speak to that. He's a tough kid. He's a wrestler, so we'll see," Soderberg said. "He's got good vision and good feet. He's just a workhorse running back."

Gustafson wants his team to slow D-G-F's running game in order to control the time of possession and remain turnover free.

"(The Rebels) can really pound the rock. They are a really good running football team," Gustafson said. "They want to keep the ball as much as they can. I know they're going to be able to run some clock, but if we can minimize that and get a few stops, that would be huge."

More by Michael Lyne:
The Bulldogs have adapted the concept of 'Mudita,' while riding a 7-game winning streak and aiming for a top section seed
Prep hockey report for Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in west central Minnesota. Peyton LeMieur notches a pair of goals in Brainerd/Little Falls dominating victory
Prep girls gymnastics reports for Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in west central Minnesota. No. 6 Wildcats down Annandale with a 140.425-128.200 victory
Girls basketball report for Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in west central Minnesota. No. 2 Wildcats shut down No. 11 Thunder Hawks in a game with Section 3AA implications, 64-29

Soderberg also recognizes how crucial remaining turnover-free will be Saturday.

"We've got to protect the football. We can't turn the ball over," Soderberg said. "The turnover battle is huge."

NLS will look to add their second Prep Bowl title in program history. The Wildcats first state championship came in 2009.

"We're just excited to get down there, get in the stadium, give it everything we've got and see what we can do against them. They're undefeated, so nobody's figured them out yet," Gustafson said. "We look forward to the challenge.

"I feel like we played a good schedule this year, so hopefully that'll help us, but we know they're a really good program and a really good team."

NLS senior Hunter Downey, 33, chases down a Watertown-Mayer ball carrier during the Class AAA state semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
NLS senior Hunter Downey, 33, chases down a Watertown-Mayer ball carrier during the Class AAA state semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Starting lineups

New London-Spicer offense

QB: So. Blake Schultz
FB: Jr. Lucas Swenson
RB: Jr. Mason Delzer
WR: Sr. Gabe Rohman
WR: Sr. Brycen Christensen
TE: Jr. Grant Paffrath
OT: Jr. Marshel Johnson
OG: Sr. Luke Wosmek
C: Sr. Brycen Bergh
OG: Jr. Jack Hanson
OT: Sr. Isaiah Klein
K: Rohman
P: Rohman

New London-Spicer defense

DE: Swenson
DT: Johnson
DT: Sr. Wyatt Steele
DE: Jr. Brody Duke
LB: Paffrath
LB: Sr. Hunter Downey
LB: Jr. Luke Knudsen
CB: Christensen
CB: Delzer
S: Rohman

DGF offense

QB: Sr. Owen Leach
RB: Sr. Jordan Summers
RB: Jr. Nick Waale
WR: Sr. Drew Sheeley
WR: Summers
WR: So. Tommy Rehder
TE: Jr. Brody O'Keefe
TE: Jr. Thomas Thureen
OT: Jr. Aiden Edeen
OG: Sr. Victor Sosa
C: Sr. Bryce Fischer
OG: Sr. Kolton Wagner
OT: Sr. Max Baumgartner
K: So. Hayden Hauf
P: Leach

DGF- defense

DE: Wagner
DT: Baumgartner
DT (NG): Sosa
DE: O'Keefe
LB: Waale
LB: So. Ethan Hellerud
LB: So. Caleb Johnson
CB: Jr. Brody Friend
CB: Sheeley
SS: Summers
FS: Leach

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
What To Read Next
Top teams: Class AAAA - Park Center, Class AAA - Totino-Grace, Class AA - Holy Family Catholic, Class A - Cass Lake-Bena
Top teams: Class AA - Minnetonka, Class A - Warroad
Jan. 31 from StateOfHockey.com
Warriors' boys win with 396 points, girls take first with 397