Annandale rushes their way into the State Championship game
Annandale 24, Dassel-Cokato 14
By: Jackson Boline
The Section 5AAA champion Annandale Cardinals (11-0) take on Section 3AAA champion Dassel Cokato (10-1) in the Class AAA State Semifinals at the U.S. Bank Stadium.
Both of these teams were eliminated in their section playoffs in 2022, but this year, only one game stands in their way for a chance at the state title.
The Cardinals changed the momentum early, after a great drive by Dassel-Cokato, marching their way down to the Annandale 13-yard line before the Cardinals poked the ball loose and recovered it.
On the very next play, Nick Walter throws a dart to Thomas Westman, who runs it in for an 80-yard touchdown, giving Annandale an early 7-0 lead.
The Cardinals scored again in the second quarter, taking a 14-0 lead but Dassel-Cokato marched down the field late in the first half, ending with Kobee Thielen flying around the edge to find the endzone getting the Chargers back within one score.
The second half started with another long scoring drive by Annandale, something that they do well, as their head coach Matt Walters said in the quarterfinal game, “We could be aggressive and force throws more, but why, we play to win the game and if running the ball and taking time off the clock works were going to do it .”
Dassell-Cokato needed an answer and that is exactly what they got, as Monte Gillman, who had 116 yards rushing heading into the fourth quarter found his way into the one-yard line, giving DC an easy shove into the endzone, 21-14 the Chargers got back within seven.
Although they let the Chargers creep their way back into the game, Annandale did what they do best and took a good chunk out of the clock, marching down to the 1-yard line, before having to settle for a field goal.
The Cardinals dwindled the clock to double 0’s and advanced to the state title game after a 24-14 win over their in-county rival Chargers.
“We have trust in our guys not to turn the ball over when we run, so when we want to chew some time off the clock, we can do it,” said Matt Walters.
The Cardinals’ defense has gone a stretch of four games where they have held teams to 15 points or less, and this game was no change.
“I don’t think our defense gets tackled about enough, I think they’re the best team in the state,” said Walter.
Annandale will face Stewartville at 1 p.m. on Nov. 25, right back here at U.S. Bank Stadium.