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Football: Willmar prevails against Delano

Cardinals score with 4:40 to play, then gets a big pick to win its homecoming game, 24-21

Willmar junior Cullen Gregory, left, goes for a stiff arm on a Delano defender during a North Central White District game on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Hodapp Field.
Willmar junior Cullen Gregory, left, goes for a stiff arm on a Delano defender during a North Central White District game on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Hodapp Field.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — The first three quarters were a defensive battle between Willmar and Delano. The last 12 minutes turned into a shootout by comparison.

Ultimately, the Cardinals were able to get the final strike for the homecoming victory.

With 4 minutes, 40 seconds to play, quarterback Cullen Gregory scored the go-ahead touchdown. Then with 3:41 left, Sam Raitz intercepted a pass at midfield to secure Willmar’s 24-21 victory at Hodapp Field.

Willmar senior Jacob Streed leads the Cardinals football team onto the field for its homecoming game against Delano on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Hodapp Field.
Willmar senior Jacob Streed leads the Cardinals football team onto the field for its homecoming game against Delano on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Hodapp Field.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

“It was a fun night,” said Cardinals head coach Jon Konold. “It was homecoming week and to be able to culminate that with a good football game was good to see.

“We made a lot of mistakes and Delano played a heck of a football game. But I told the kids after that with all the mistakes we made, their heart and spirit showed in the fourth quarter.”

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Gregory’s arm got the Cardinals their first score of the game when Raitz made a leaping grab in the end zone for a 4-yard score. Then in the second, Willmar went ahead 10-0 following a 30-yard field goal by sophomore Ezra May.

With halftime looming, Delano snatched the momentum. With 1:39 before the break, Luke Frank capped off the Tigers’ drive with a 9-yard touchdown run. On Willmar’s next drive, an incomplete pass from Gregory to Ramero Trevino was ruled a lateral, which was recovered by Delano’s Ben Engel. The Tigers got the ball down to the 2-yard line before time expired.

Following the intermission, Delano took a 14-10 lead when quarterback Cade Bruett hit Andrew Bruett for an 11-yard touchdown.

Over a two-minute span in the fourth quarter, the two teams traded the lead.

Willmar struck first when Gregory found Trevino running a go-route from the slot. The junior running back sprinted 80 yards for the score and the 17-14 lead with 10:15 left.

Willmar junior Dylan Staska, right, runs for the sidelines while Delano's Mason Henry goes for the tackle during a North Central White District game on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Hodapp Field.
Willmar junior Dylan Staska, right, runs for the sidelines while Delano's Mason Henry goes for the tackle during a North Central White District game on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Hodapp Field.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

“He showed not only his running ability as a power back and an elusive back, he kind of broke out in the passing game,” Konold said of Trevino. “He showed his speed in that touchdown and it really sparked us offensively in the second half.”

Gregory was 17 of 25 passing for 237 yards. He also ran 17 times for 76 yards. Trevino was his top receiver with 126 yards on five catches. He also had 92 yards on 23 attempts.

On the next drive, with 8:38 to play, Delano got its own deep pass as Cade connected with Jake Schultz for a 63-yard score.

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After Gregory’s go-ahead TD, Raitz was able to complete his night with the interception, bringing the ball down to the Tigers’ 22-yard line.

“Sam’s worked really hard and he’s playing more defense now,” Konold said. “He’s such a great athlete. It’s nice to see him have that success tonight. He doesn’t come off the field too much … and he’s a real competitor.”

Willmar has its home finale at 7 p.m. next Friday against Rocori. The top-ranked team in Class AAAA, the Spartans fell to fourth-ranked Hutchinson on Friday, 38-14.

Willmar senior Sam Raitz, 81, is mobbed by teammates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter during a North Central White District game against Delano on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Hodapp Field.
Willmar senior Sam Raitz, 81, is mobbed by teammates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter during a North Central White District game against Delano on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Hodapp Field.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Willmar 24, Delano 21

Delano (2-3)   0   7   7     7 — 21
Willmar (3-1)  7   3   0   14 — 24
Scoring Plays
W – Sam Raitz 4 pass from Cullen Gregory (Ezra May kick)
W – May 30 field goal
D – Luke Frank 9 run (Caden Connor kick)
D – Andrew Bruett 11 pass from Cade Bruett (Connor kick)
W – Ramero Trevino 80 pass from Gregory (May kick)
D – Jake Schultz 63 pass from C. Bruett (Connor kick)
W – Gregory 3 run (May kick)
Delano
First downs: 12 … Penalties: 4-35 … Rushing (Individual and team): Cole Schmidt 15-46, Luke Frank 4-18, Ben Engel 1-1, Cade Bruett 3-5. Total: 23-70 … Passing (Individual and team): C. Bruett 17-28-1 286, Teague Collings 0-1-0 0. Total: 17-29-1 286  ... Receiving: Jake Schultz 7-144, Collings 7-86, Schmidt 1-11, Andrew Bruett 2-46 … Interceptions: None … Fumble recoveries: Ben Engel 1  … Tackles (solo-assist): n/a … QB sacks: Michael Sundheim 1
Willmar
First downs: 18 … Penalties: 4-35 … Rushing (Individual and team): Ramero Trevino 23-92, Cullen Gregory 17-76. Total: 40-168 … Passing (Individual and team): Gregory 17-25-0 234 ... Receiving: Trevino 5-126, Sam Raitz 5-41, Jacob Streed 1-17, Dylan Staska 2-21, Mattix Swanson 1-6, Tyler Evans 3-23 … Interceptions: Raitz 1 … Fumble recoveries: None … Tackles (solo-assist): Swanson 6-2, Marlon Fernandez-Munoz 6-0, Jacob Flannigan 4-0 … QB sacks: none

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Check out a full breakdown of the Class AAA football championship on this week's WCT Sports Show

Related Topics: FOOTBALLWILLMAR CARDINALS
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