Coming off a week four win in which Chaska was held scoreless for more than 47 minutes, a last-minute touchdown and win at Waconia, being more creative offensively, finishing off opportunities were keys in week five Oct. 1.
Chaska threw the ball on first down. Brayden Sanders got chances to go deep to receiver Colin Dussault. And the Hawks’ maintained its strong rush game, totaling 320 yards, in a 58-7 blowout win over Cretin-Derham Hall.
The Raiders are in their first year in Class 5A after years of opting up to the top class.
Chaska, ranked No. 7, is one of six unbeaten teams in Class 5A.
“When we got opportunities we finished. We got opportunities last week, but we just didn’t execute them. We did tonight. That was the theme all week. When plays are there we have to make them. We have to manufacture explosive plays and the kids certainly did that tonight,” Chaska coach Bryan Dahl said.
Chaska scored four times in its first five drives, a penalty inside the 10-yard line halting the second possession. Meanwhile, Cretin-Derham Hall had zero first downs in its first four drives.
Chaska led the Raiders 37-7 at halftime, two rushing touchdowns from Jack Boyle, who was team leader with 98 yards.
Sanders had a career game, throwing for 187 yards on 7-of-11 passing, adding 45 rushing yards, a 20-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
Sanders and Dussault hooked up on a fade route in the back corner on the opening drive, while a catch-and-run of 82 yards from Karver Miller, who totaled 128 yards on three receptions, adding a 43-yard run, went for the 14-0 lead.
“Brayden’s doing a great job making his reads and making it through his progressions, getting those guys the ball in places they can make plays. Karver can run on the edge, is fast and is speedy, and isn’t afraid to go inside. And then Dussault on the edge, he’s going up and attacking the ball better. We’re certainly excited to these type of weapons, and we’re going to continue to use both of them in this way,” Dahl said.
Boyle (45 yards), Reese Turner (24 yards) and Aaron Nash (26 yards) added second-half rushing scores, running time in effect in the fourth quarter.
Chaska had five backs with 40 or more yards with Nash rushing for a career-high 74 yards.
After giving up two first-team touchdowns in the season opener against Bloomington Jefferson, and 181 passing yards, Chaska has allowed two first-team scores in the last four games, posting two shutouts.
While the secondary has been solidified by the play of safeties Myles Meiller and Kaiden Rector, and cornerbacks Nolan Kemp, Miller and Trevor Oetter, who had an interception in the win, it is the play of the front-seven that has stuffed opponent’s running games.
Only Chanhassen has topped 100 yards rushing against the Chaska defense. Two teams, Bloomington Jefferson and Cretin-Derham Hall, were held under 50, while Waconia star back Max McEnelly totaled just 61 yards, 80 below his season average.
“We’re pleased with how we’ve progressed. Where we started, we had a lot of new guys starting, and it took some time. The speed of the game, how physical it is, we were playing catch-up the first week. The kids practice hard, they have a goal of stopping the run each week, they really have a mindset of being physical,” Dahl said.
Linebackers Max Hatfield (48), voted homecoming king, Ben Bowe (34) and Christian Rolff (24) lead Chaska in tackles, while Brendan Suhr is second behind Bowe with three tackles for loss.
Preston Lorenz anchors the three-man defensive front at nose tackle, flanked by a rotation of two-way players Ryan Mercer, Colton Rada, Leo Smalley, and Kaleb Rector.
“These guys don’t like giving up points. We’re getting better every week, and that’s really a true positive,” the coach added.
Chaska will move into the top-five in Class 5A, with losses from Rochester Mayo and Mahtomedi, in advance of a road game at Orono on Friday, Oct. 8. The Spartans are 1-4, falling 22-21 to St. Louis Park in week five.
Orono has been a thorn in the side of Chaska since district play was introduced, defeating the Hawks in 2015, 2018 and 2020.
“As a team, we want to play as long as we can, but we’re not looking forward past each game. That first week, yeah we set goals for the season. But now it’s having that mindset each day of doing what we can to be better. The struggles we’ve had at times offensively, we’re learning from, and that’s good for when down the road we’re in tight ball games, we’ll know how to respond,” Dahl said.