No. 8-ranked B.E. Area football steamrolls to state

SWARMING BUCS — Blue Earth Area defensive back Cameron Anderson (on ground) brings down Medford running back Jerone Chavis (22) as Bucs’ linebacker Jack Frundt (50) advances to finish off the tackle during the Section 2AA football championship game Friday night in Janesville. Blue Earth Area defenders Luke Mertens (52), Nick Frank (55), Adam Schavey (11) and Caelan Sanders (21) seal off all the angles on the play. (Photo by Greg Abel)

JANESVILLE – After a one-year hiatus, Blue Earth Area head coach Randy Kuechenmeister and his Class AA No. 8-ranked Bucs football team trampled their way over Medford and into the state quarterfinals.

Running back Koby Nagel erupted for a game-best 152 yards and three touchdowns, while quarterback Gavin Storbeck threw for 150 yards – including one scoring strike apiece to Caelan Sanders and Cameron Anderson – to power top-seeded Blue Earth Area to a 59-15 running-time rout over the No. 6-seeded Tigers in Friday night’s Section 2 football championship game.

Blue Earth Area (9-2) advances to play No. 3-ranked Minneapolis North (10-0) in a 5 p.m. state opener Saturday, Nov. 9, in Kasson. The Polars defeated No. 6-ranked St. Agnes, 56-0, for the Section 4 crown.

“Qualifying for the state tournament never gets old,” said a grinning Kuechenmeister, who reached the state quarterfinals in 2017, losing a down-to-the-wire 19-12 decision to Pipestone Area. “Our guys executed on both sides of the line of scrimmage and we get to play another week.”

The hard-running Nagel established the playoff clash’s high-scoring tempo by taking the initial handoff, found a seam and sprinted 66 yards up the middle of the Janesville turf surface to set up his ensuing 5-yard TD trot with only 26 seconds elapsed. Sanders then lofted a 2-point conversion pass to Max Ehrich for a quick 8-0 lead.

“The guys upfront in our offensive line – center Luke Norman, guards Kean Hicks and Nick Frank, and tackles Luke Mertens and Adam Griffin – really created some big holes to run through tonight,” said Nagel. “It feels good to be going back to state after making it when I was a sophomore. I started on defense in the secondary back then, but now it’s nice to have a bigger role on the team as a senior.”

Nagel put his defensive skills on display, intercepting a Willie VonRuden pass and returning it to the Medford 41 only three snaps later. Storbeck zipped an 11-yard quick-out pass to Anderson before Nagel slashed his way 16 yards to the end zone for the second of his three TDs on the night. Storbeck fired the ensuing 2-point conversion pass to Sanders to double the gap to 16-0 with 7:18 remaining in the opening quarter.

Medford quickly countered when running back Jerone Chavis broke a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage before sprinting for a 55-yard gain to reach the Bucs’ 9. VonRuden later sprinted 7 yards around left end for a score. VonRuden then lofted a 2-point post pass to Kael Hermanstorfer to whittle the Tigers’ gap to 16-8 with 6:25 left in the first frame.

It took Blue Earth Area’s high-octane offense – which amassed 467 total yards on the sectional final – only 1:26 off the scoreboard to counter via Storbeck’s 43-yard completion to Cameron Anderson. Anderson caught the crossing route, pivoted on a dime, slashed left and outsprinted the Medford secondary for six points. Storbeck zipped a 2-point pass to Anderson to restore a 16-point advantage at 24-8 with 4:59 remaining in the first quarter.

In fact, Blue Earth Area proved highly efficient by producing points on all five of its first possessions to build a 40-8 halftime lead.

Linebacker Zac Murphy and defensive lineman Adam Griffin slammed the brakes on the Tigers’ next series to force a punt. Storbeck hit Sanders for key completions of 9 and 12 yards, Sanders contributed two long sweep runs and Nagel capped the drive with a 2-yard TD run. Storbeck then threaded the needle on a 2-point slant to Anderson with 9:12 left before intermission.

Griffin’s quarterback sack and linebacker Adam Schavey’s open-field tackle for a loss forced another Medford punt and the Blue Earth Area offense put another six points on the scoreboard.

Anderson opened the five-play, 59-yard drive with a 16-yard sweep run, Storbeck later connected with Sanders on an 11-yarder and Storbeck used a nifty high-step move to sprint for a 29-yard QB keeper for a TD. Sanders then weaved through traffic for a 2-point run and 40-8 lead with 4:56 to go before halftime.

Murphy’s sack for a 10-yard loss on the opening series of the third quarter created another Medford punt, and Sanders generated double-digit yardage gainers via a 15-yard end-around run and a 35-yard TD reception from Storbeck. Hicks kicked the PAT for a 47-8 lead.

With VonRuden reaggravating an ankle injury in the second quarter, Medford reserve quarterback Justin Ristau later completed a 27-yard TD pass to Josiah Hedenstein at the 5:54 juncture of the third quarter.

Jaxen Klinkner and Cole Warmka each contributed a 4-yard TD run to close out the Bucs’ scoring effort. Warmka’s TD was set up by Logan O’Hara’s late fumble recovery.

Storbeck completed 7 of 12 passes for 150 yards and two scores, Sanders pocketed a game-high five catches for 96 yards and a TD, while Anderson added two receptions for 54 yards and six points.

MED 8 0 7 0 – 15

BEA 24 16 13 6 – 59

Scoring Plays

1st Quarter

BEA-Koby Nagel 5 run (Max Ehrich pass from Caelan Sanders), 11:34.

BEA-Nagel 16 run (Sanders pass from Gavin Storbeck), 7:18.

MED-Willie VonRuden 9 run (Kael Hermanstorfer pass from VonRuden), 6:25.

BEA-Cameron Anderson 43 pass from Storbeck (Anderson pass from Storbeck), 4:59.

2nd Quarter

BEA-Nagel 2 run (Anderson pass from Storbeck), 9:12.

BEA-Storbeck 29 run (Sanders run), 4:56.

3rd Quarter

BEA-Sanders 35 pass from Storbeck (Kean Hicks kick), 9:05.

MED-Josiah Hedensten 27 pass from Justin Ristau (Jacob Andrews kick), 5:54.

BEA-Jaxen Klinkner 4 run (kick failed), 1:38.

4th Quarter

BEA-Cole Warmka 4 run (kick failed), 2:44.


First downs: BEA 17; Medford 4. Rushing: BEA 46-317; Medford 28-73. Passing: BEA 7-12-0-150; Medford 3-8-1-46. Fumbles-lost: BEA 0-0; Medford 4-1. Penalties: BEA 4-34; Medford none.


Offense: Rushing: Nagel (BEA) 18-152; Jerone Chavis (MED) 11-44. Passing: Storbeck (BEA) 7-12-0-150; VonRuden (MED) 2-5-1-19, Ristau (MED) 1-3-0-27. Receiving: Sanders (BEA) 5-96, Anderson (BEA) 2-54. Hedensten (MED) 1-27.

Defense: Interception: Nagel (BEA). Fumble recovery: Logan O’Hara (BEA).


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