June 15, 2024

Knights head to Prep Bowl, first time since 1999

Cole Anderson gathers in a pass for a toiuchdown. Photo by Kendra Anderson

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Senior Hunter Norby stopped a Maple Lake run play in the end zone for a safety in the third quarter, which ended up being the game-winner in the Class 2A State Semifinals against Maple Lake on Friday, Nov. 12, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Trailing 6-7, the Knights’ safety gave them an 8-7 victory to earn a spot in the Class 2A Championship against Chatfield at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

It’s the Knights’ first time being back in the Prep Bowl since West Central Area was runner-up back in 1999.

“We preach battling through adversity,” said WCA/Ashby head coach Nate Wood. “It might not always be your day, but you can trust your teammates…It wasn’t our greatest offensive day, but our defense stepped up. We’ve had other days where our offense has come through and done what they needed to do. We just trust each other.”

“Hunter has been kind of a rock for us this whole year,” Wood added of Norby, who had another big stop on a sack late in the fourth quarter. “He doesn’t say a lot, and he just kind of does his best every play. This is probably the most emotion you’re ever going to see from Hunter Norby after he made those plays. It was awesome to see. He’s dependable. He does his job so well, and those were huge plays in the game.”

After going 0-2 in their first two drives, the Knights finally broke through on a drive midway through the second quarter. After a Mattson Hoff interception gave the Knights the ball back on its own 42 yard line, WCA/A drove 58 yards on 10 plays to capture the game’s first score. Anthony Sykora had 24 rushing yards on the drive while Mattson added 10. On fourth-and-one, Sykora connected on a halfback pass to Cole Anderson for a 16 yard touchdown to give the Knights a 6-0 lead.

The Eagles’ lone score came in similar fashion when an interception turned the ball over around midfield with under two minutes left in the first half. Maple Lake converted a fourth-and-five and then handed it off to Boden Simon, who recorded the three-yard touchdown.

The Knights defense forced four turnover-on-downs in the second half with the only other Eagle possession being the game-winning safety by Norby, who finished with nine tackles and three tackles for loss.

Nas Dotts had team-high 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass break up. Mattson Hoff had nine tackles and an interception while Colten Lindquist and Carson Spangler each had sacks.

Sykora ran for 97 yards on 17 carries. Hoff had 25 yards in seven carries on the ground and added another 27-yard reception from Evan Paulson, who was 2-for-10 for 34 yards in the win.

      WCA/A – 8

   Maple River – 7

WCA-ASHBY 0 6 2 0 – 8

MAPLE RIVER 0 7 0 0 – 7

TOTALS – WCA-ASHBY – Offense – 52-185; Rushing – 39-135; Passing – 3-13, 50 yards; First downs – 11; MAPLE RIVER – Offense – 66-247; Rushing – 44-91; Passing – 14-22, 156 yards; First downs – 17

WCA-ASHBY OFFENSE – PASSING – Evan Paulson – 2-10, 34 yards, 1 INT; Anthony Sykora – 1-3, 16 yards, TD, 2 INT; RUSHING – Anthony Sykora – 17-90; Mattson Hoff – 7-25; Hunter Norby – 5-15; Evan Paulson – 5-5; Carson Spangler – 1-2; RECEIVING – Hoff – 1-27; Cole Anderson – 1-16, TD; Sykora – 1-7

WCA-ASHBY DEFENSE – Nas Dotts – 11 tackles, 1.5 TFL; Hunter Norby – 9 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks; Hoff – 9 tackles, INT; Carson Spangler – 8 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack; Sykora – 6 tackles; Tyler Stone – 6 tackles; Cole Anderson – 5 tackles; Colton Lindquist – 5 tackles, 1 sack; Torin Olson – 5 tackles; Beau Robinson – 3 tackles; Brady Lindquist – 3 tackles; Sam Heeter – 2 tackles; Isaac Kreft – 2 tackles; Reubens Swanson – 1 tackle; Ryder Staples – 1 tackle; Justin Blascyk – 1 tackle

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