LAVINA — Down two halftime touchdowns against the two-time defending state champion, Broadview-Lavina football coach Brian Heiken gave his players in the locker room a simple command.
With the Pirates back to the wall, perhaps a reminder to let go was just what they needed. And with Heiken having coached the senior class since college, he perhaps knows their football instincts better than anyone.
That advice worked wonders – and Broadview-Lavina is having a great time now.
The Pirates broke through and earned a thrilling 35-34 win over Froid-Medicine Lake in their 6-man semi-final on Saturday, giving them a date at Big Sandy (who beat Bridger on Saturday) next weekend in their very first state title. game appearance.
Broadview-Lavina (11-0) senior quarterback Kade Erickson threw for five touchdowns, none more important than the last. Down 34-28 with his high school career on the line, Erickson raced down the field and threw an even touchdown to running back Connor Glennie on the goal line with 34 seconds left. Moments later, he connected with schoolmate and tight end William Sanguins in the end zone for a 1-point conversion to put the Pirates ahead.
Froid-Lake (8-4) had just 28 yards to score on his last practice after the Pirates missed a kickoff, but Broadview-Lavina stopped the junior quarterback’s final pass attempts Mason Dethman to seal his place in history.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Heiken said of the Pirates’ achievement. “It was a hell of a game. (Froid-Lake) there, they played a monster game. Going out in the second half like we did, it changed everything and we really played our type of football in the second half. That meant a whole lot.
The Pirates beat the Redhawks by a 52-6 margin in Week 2, but Froid-Lake has been much more phased since, starting a seven-game winning streak on Saturday after starting 1-3.
And early on, Broadview-Lavina discovered exactly how much Froid-Lake had improved. Redhawks senior running back Austen Hobbs had a full day, taking two kickoffs for touchdowns and catching three more scores from Dethman to put the visitors in the driver’s seat with a 28-16 lead at intermission .
“We struggled a lot in the first half,” Erickson said. “We regrouped in the locker room and went out and played like we’ve been doing all season. And that’s what’s good about this team is that we can all understand together and stay calm and just show up.
Broadview-Lavina showed up in the second half, okay.
Erickson threw a 20-yard score to tailback Hank Tuszynski on the Pirates’ first offensive possession of the half, then Sanguins recovered a bouncing ball that Froid-Lake couldn’t correlate to the kickoff that kicked off. followed. Five plays later, Broadview-Lavina hit paydirt to tie the game as Erickson hit senior Jace Jansen from five from six yards out.
The Redhawks launched a mammoth 15-game campaign in response to regain the lead with 7:54 left, and when they stopped Broadview-Lavina in fourth in defense, the game seemed firmly within Froid-Lake’s reach. But a Redhawks 3-and-out gave the Pirates life, and Erickson delivered in the game’s final stretch.
“Right now there is a lot of trouble,” said Froid-Lake coach Michael Reiter. “But hopefully when they get home on the bus tomorrow they get that pride back, because they have no reason to be ashamed. … Not far from revenge (Broadview-Lavina), no reason to be ashamed . They should be proud.”
While Froid-Lake can hold his head high after at least three consecutive trips to the last four, perhaps Saturday also marked a changing of the guard in terms of 6-Man’s power dynamics.
As the Redhawks won back-to-back state titles the past two seasons, Broadview-Lavina faced the pain of back-to-back first-round outings. Now it’s the Pirates who are next in line to compete for glory.
Mighty Big Sandy gets in the way of Broadview-Lavina, but the senior Pirates aren’t keen on ending their careers with a loss either.
“It’s not just our first state championship (game), it’s this community’s,” Erickson said. “It means just as much to us as it does to them. … Big Sandy are a great team, man. We have to pick our performance this week, but we can celebrate a bit tonight.”
Photos: Broadview-Lavina takes on Froid-Medicine Lake for the 6-Man semifinal
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