Varsity Football · Spartans Upset #1 Chaska 24-14

Orono came into the game as an underdog. On the road for the third straight week and facing a very tough Chaska Hawk team. The Spartans used that underdog role as inspiration throughout the week and on a chilly late October Friday night, delivered their own October surprise beating Chaska in every phase of the game. “We beat the defending 5A champs and #1 ranked 5A school this week – the players did their job all week preparing and I’m so proud of them for all the work they put in. You don’t get the opportunity to play the #1 team in the State every week and it was fun to get that opportunity this week to show how good our team can be.” Said Head Coach Joe McPherson after the game.
Orono got on the board first with their second possession in a statement drive. Starting at their own 15 yard line the Spartans got behind their dominating offensive line of Shea Albrecht, Johnny Harstad, Jacob Goman, Charlie Brophy, and Sam Swenson whose blocking led to 322 yards of offense for Orono.
The familiar formula of Aiden Mueller working the middle and Teddy Deters getting off the edge has been the Spartans hallmark and Friday night, the Hawk defense got a taste of how potent that rushing attack was as Orono rolled up 240 yards on the ground. Mueller led the way with 120 yards on 31 carries and 2 touchdowns. Deters was not far behind with 114 yards on 20 carries. Deters added laser precision to the passing game completing 3 out of 4 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. Noah Arneson caught all three of those passes for 82 yards and the score.
Orono faced 3rd and 2 at its own 22 and Deters delivered the first big play of the night finding room off the left edge with great blocking from Albrecht and Harstad along with a big edge block by Dave Wilfert. Wilfert’s lead blocking has been critical to the Spartan rushing attack all season. Deters picked up 40 yards on the run to the Chaska 23 yard line. Orono continued its dual threat rushing attack getting down to Chaska’s 8 yard line. On 3rd and 5, Deters found Noah Arneson on a slant for the first touchdown of the night. Jack Kalman nailed the extra point and Orono led 7-0.
Chaska’s offense got going on the next possession and tied the score at 7-7 with just over 8 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. Orono answered on the very next drive. Starting at their own 25 yard line, Orono kept up the rushing attack pushing downfield to the Chaska 49 yard line. On 2nd and 10, Deters dropped back and found Arneson again deep down the left sideline to the Chaska 5 yard line. Mueller took it in off the right side with great blocks from Goman, Swenson, Brophy, and Wilfert. With just 3 minutes left in the half, Chaska was able to string together a drive down to Orono’s 7 yard line. On 4th down with just :35 seconds remaining, a high snap gave the Orono defense the opportunity it was looking for. Dave Wilfert, Mike Wojciechowski, and Andrew Mandel stopped the play for no gain and Orono led 14-7 at the half. “Chaska is an option/power running team and we held them to only 88 yards rushing – our defense continues to dominate the line of scrimmage, our LB’s continue to fly to the ball and our DB’s continue to do a great job in coverage. With all those things coming together, we will win a lot of games if that continues,” remarked McPherson. The Spartans were led by linebacker Joey Tilzer with 14 tackles, Bradley Walker with 9 tackles and an interception, Shea Albrecht and Dave Wilfert each with 7 tackles and a tackle for loss, Noah Arneson with 7 tackles and Graham Beltrand had 5 tackles.
The Orono defense started the second half the way it ended the first and forced a Chaska punt on a 3 and out possession. A bad punt gave Orono the ball at its own 32 yard line. Unfortunately back to back penalties for a block in the back and holding pushed Orono back to it’s own 12 yard line. 1st and 30 was a challenge the Orono offense was ready for. Deters picked up 15 yards off the right side on 1st down. He added 3 more on 2nd down. On 3rd and 11 from the 31, Deters found Arneson for a 31 yard completion down to the Chaska 38. Three plays later on 4th and 1 at the Hawk 30, Deters picked up 5 yards to keep the drive alive. Facing 3rd and 6 at the 21, Deters went off the left side behind block from Albrecht, Harstad ,and Wilfert raced down to the 1 yard line where he was knocked out of bounds. On third down, Mueller, running out of a full house backfield behind Joey Tilzer and Dave Wilfert, found the end zone for the second time. Kallman converted the extra point and Orono led 21-7.
The Chaska offense put another drive together and closed to within one score at 21-14 with just over 10 minutes left in the game. With momentum shifting back to Chaska, the ensuing kickoff gave it right back to the Spartans. Gavin Gustafson grabbed the short kick at his own 22 yard line and raced up the right side before being brought down at midfield. Orono put it’s tried and true formula back to work. Let a big and dominant offensive line lean on a tiring defense with a punishing ground attack. Three straight Meuller runs gave Orono a 1st down at the Chaska 40. On 4th and 1 a few plays later, Deters went to his right again and find 5 yards for another first down. Mueller’s next two runs picked up 9. The Chaska defense made a huge play on third down forcing 4th and 3 at the 19. Deters went to his left behind Albrecht and Harstad down to the 14 for another first down. The Chaska defense was on it’s heals and while it found big stops on 1st and 2nd down, the Hawks were also burning precious time outs to conserve the clock. With the Orono drive in jeopardy a 3rd down a reverse to Arneson did not gain much but did place the ball in the center of the field. Coach McPherson sent his field goal unit in for a 34 yard attempt. A perfect snap from senior long snapper Peter Whiteman and hold by Deters was followed by a perfect kick from Jack Kalman. The Spartans had a two score advantage at 24-14 with just 3:02 remaining and a Chaska team out of time outs. Reflecting on the night Coach McPherson said “We have to give our offense so much credit for putting some great drives together, especially the last drive that sealed the victory – we took almost 7 minutes off the clock and did it running the ball. I knew Jack Kalman was going to hit that field goal – he has put so much time in training for that moment, I was so happy for him when he knocked the ball through the goal posts.”
The final Chaska drive of the game was gaining momentum hitting open receivers and using the sidelines well to conserve time. With the ball on the Orono 31 and 2:23 remaining, the Orono defense delivered the knockout blow. On 2nd down, defensive end Connor Chappell broke through for a huge sack. Orono sophomore linebacker Bradley Walker made a great read on the third down play and intercepted the ball at Orono’s 23 and returned it to Chaska 35, sealing a huge win for the Spartans.
“I told the players before the game “This will be a game you will never forget – a memory you will cherish for a lifetime” and I’m so glad the memory will be a great one!!” A very happy Coach McPherson commented after the game. While it was a big night, the season is only at the halfway point and McPherson talked about Orono’s next game. “Chaska was a great win and our players have the weekend to enjoy it but come Monday we have to prepare for another tough 5A opponent in Waconia. It will be our first home game of the year and will be fun to be back home playing under the lights.”