Monona Grove Stuns Catholic Memorial in Instant Classic Fashion
Final Drive Sends Silver Eagles to Semifinals
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Memories are made not by simply living in a single moment, but by making that moment last for a lifetime through, at times, an unbelievable set of circumstances.
With a little under five minutes to go in Monona Grove’s season, quarterback Tyler Blang and the rest of the Silver Eagles made a lifetime of memories on the game clinching 83-yard drive to defeat the defending Division 3 state champions, the Catholic Memorial Crusaders, 20-17 in the quarterfinal contest.
“Make a memory, make a memory with this drive,” shouted senior lineman Jalen Thomas on the sideline before taking the field for the final time.
Moments later, Thomas rushed to the sideline to celebrate a ten-yard, fourth down and goal touchdown pass after Blang found fullback Brock Offerdahl at the front pylon of the end zone.
“I had confidence in (Offerdahl) to make that catch, I just wanted to make sure I put it on him,” Blang said. “Yea it was actually the same play as our third down. I just left that one a little high but I knew our line would block correctly again and it was just up to me to make the throw this time.”
Blang led the Silver Eagles on a magnificent, 13-play, 83-yard drive down to the Crusaders ten yard line before Monona Grove faced the fourth down attempt. On the drive, Blang hit wide outs Jackson Riley and Mitch Bernarde five times and four times respectively en route to the game winning score.
“He did a great job all night hitting us when we were open but we just struggled to catch the ball early on,” Riley said. “In the second half we settled down and especially on that last drive, we knew he would get it to us and all we had to do is catch it and get the first down every time.”
Throughout the game, Silver Eagle receivers struggled mightily to secure would be touchdown passes on numerous drives in both the first and second half.
On Monona Grove’s first two drives of the night and two plays in the second half, Trey Powers dropped deep passes down field that could have resulted in scores.
Powers later redeemed himself as he caught the two point conversion after the Silver Eagles final score of the night.
“I have complete confidence in all of my guys so I knew if I got it to him he would catch it,” Blang said. “Trey has been one of our best players so really it was just a matter of time before he made a play for us.”
Monona Grove trailed 17-6 after Tommy Garza bounced an 8-yard run to the outside after breaking a gang tackle by Eagle defenders on the first play of the fourth quarter.
However, the Silver Eagles answered right back as Toren Young scored on a 6-yard run, his second score of the night, that capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with just over eight minutes to play.
“We knew it was going to be a battle, they are the best team in the state,” Monona Grove coach Mike Stassi said. “Just the resiliency of this team here tonight is something to truly be proud of. To be honest with you, I had complete confidence from the start with my guys. I knew we would win, we just had to go out and do it.”
Monona Grove remains unbeaten and now advances to take on La Crosse Logan next week in the state semifinal, site and time still to be determined.
“This certainly isn’t the most talented team I have ever coached but boy are they persistent and hungry for a championship,” Stassi said. “The fight this team has shown all season long is just outstanding. We weren’t even picked to win our conference but we never let that stop us. We’ll just keep on rolling.”
By: Tyler Zavadsky
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