Coming off back-to-back in-season losses for the first time since 2011, the question was, how Chaska would respond in its final two football games?
How about 37 first-half points in a 44-0 running time win over Apple Valley?
How about 35 first-half points in a 49-0 running time win over Bloomington Jefferson?
When adding in the fourth quarter in week four at Chanhassen, the Hawks football team has now scored 106 consecutive points into next week’s Section 2-5A playoffs.
Does the 2020 Chaska team have the makings of the 2018 team that won the section title as the four seed?
The Hawks, at 4-2 overall, losses to Orono and Chanhassen — teams with a combined 10-2 record — are the No. 3 seed in the section tournament. With sixth-seeded Bloomington Jefferson forced to halt their season due to an administrative decision, Chaska now has a bye.
The next game is now versus unbeaten Mankato West in the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m.
So, what has changed for Chaska over the last nine quarters?
They’re tougher upfront on both sides of the ball. The return of Hunter Brackee helps, but Josh Baughman continues to make big plays on defense and maintain solid blocking on offense.
Junior Ryan Mercer, who had a key block in a 32-yard screen catch-and-run from Jack Boyle in the second quarter, along with Mike Langford and Kaleb Rector, are opening up holes for lead backs Boyle and Dewandis Youmans.
Chaska has also shored up its run defense with Yousif Hamza and Cole Zwiefel clogging up the middle, and the linebacking crew containing the outside. Grant Sussner continues to be all the over the field, landing big hits and making plays with his hands at safety.
Add that up and Chaska is just beating teams right now.
That’s how Bloomington Jefferson felt.
The first drive, aided by a roughing the punter penalty, ended in a 7-yard Spencer Goetz touchdown run.
The second drive saw Youmans cutback inside, finding the end zone from 17 yards out.
The third drive was the Boyle screen pass touchdown on a 3rd-and-13 play call at the Jefferson 32.
Add in a 9-yard fade route touchdown throw from Brayden Sanders — starting in place of injured quarterback Matthew Paul — to Ethan Bachmann, and a Nic Snuggerud 21-yard option pitch from Sanders and the lead was 35-0 at halftime.
Chaska scored twice in the third quarter, a 40-yard run from Sanders on 2nd-and-23 following a Zwiefel fumble recovery; and a 11-yard score from Youmans to cap the scoring at 49-0.
An interception from Trevor Oetter with under two minutes to play sealed the second consecutive shutout for Chaska.
The game was moved from Bloomington Stadium to Chaska High School due to snow on the Jaguars’ home field. It was the fifth home game in six contests this season for the Hawks; the only road contest up Audubon Road at Chanhassen High School.
LAST TWO WEEKS OF THE REGULAR SEASON
Due to COVID concerns, Chaska and Southwest Christian varsity volleyball teams did not compete the week of Monday, Nov. 9.
Nov. 19: vs Bloomington Jefferson (7 p.m.)
Nov. 20: vs Chanhassen (5:30 p.m.)
Nov. 24: at St. Louis Park (7 p.m.)
Nov. 25: at Bloomington Jefferson (5 p.m.)
Nov. 28: vs Wayzata (Noon)
Southwest Christian Stars
Nov. 19: at Tri-City United (5:30 p.m.)
Nov. 20: Norwood Young America (7 p.m.)
Nov. 23-24: TBA
Nov. 27: at Mayer Lutheran (6 p.m.)