Raiders, Irish put on a show

Brian Meyers
sports writer

For those who preach that high school sports are a more pure form of athletic competition, the state semifinal football game between Roseville Area High School and Rosemount High School last Thursday at the Metrodome was a perfect example for that argument. Two groups of players giving it their all for their teams and their schools put on quite a show.

Roseville, making its first appearance in the state semifinals, went toe-to-toe with one of the top two teams in the state but came up just short in a 35-28 loss. The red eyes and tears on the faces of the Raiders on the field after the game told the story of the night better than any words could.

"I will be honest I held back the tears," said Roseville head coach Chris Simdorn. "To see the boys like that, it’s tough because they are a special group and they’ve been through so much. I don’t know if it will quite sink in until later on."

Despite the loss, Simdorn said this team will always have a special place in Roseville athletic history.

"This team right here will never be forgotten," said Simdorn. "What they’ve done, I can’t list the number of firsts they’ve accomplished this year as the Roseville football team."

Among the accomplishments: The most victories in one season, the first Suburban East Conference championship, the first trip to the state semifinals.

"Last week with TCF and this week, these kids have had the experience of a lifetime," said Simdorn.

Roseville entered the game a decided underdog considering that Rosemount had won 10 in a row and hadn’t allowed more than two touchdowns in a game since week three of the regular season. It turned out that offense wasn’t a problem for Roseville as it rolled up 394 yards and four scores.

Defense was neither team’s forte as Rosemount put up an identical number of offensive yards and points.

The difference, as it turned out, was a special teams play in the second quarter. Rosemount’s Dimitri Williams broke free for a 77-yard punt return touchdown. Aside from that play, the rest of the game was a draw.

"We always talk about the importance of special teams and how they play a huge role in the game," Simdorn said. "That was a big play there in the first half."

Roseville tried to make the punt return a moot point by mounting a potential game-tying drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Trailing by seven, the Raiders forced Rosemount to punt and took possession at their own 20-yard line.

On second down, senior quarterback Jacques Perra dropped back to pass but saw too much open space on the left side of the field to ignore. He took advantage of the gaping hole in the Irish defense and ran for 45 yards.

Roseville eventually got to the Rosemount 19 before facing a fourth down. After a timeout, Perra had Jesper Horsted open on the right side but with the Irish pass rush closing in his pass was at Horsted’s feet and fell incomplete.

Horsted got his hands on the ball but wasn’t able to pull it in. He was single covered on the play, one of the few times all game he was able to have any space to operate.

Rosemount came into the game knowing that it had to find a way to slow down Horsted. He had caught 19 passes for 293 yards in Roseville’s quarterfinal victory over Maple Grove a week earlier.

"We were just trying to mix things up on them," Rosemount head coach Jeff Erdmann. "You can’t take everything away from those guys. They’re a tough offense."

While the Irish were able to put the clamps on Horsted, who caught five passes from 52 yards, Perra found plenty of other targets for his passes. Tommy Arcand became the go-to guy as he hauled in eight passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Andrew Colvard added five receptions, two of which went for scores.

Roseville’s rushing attack was stymied much of the night. Perra finished with 80 of the Raiders’ 98 rushing yards on 14 carries.

While the Raiders did most of their damage through the air, Rosemount presented a contrasting approach. The Irish rolled up 323 yards on the ground and were led by Williams, who carried the ball 15 times for 135 yards. The passing wasn’t much of a factor as quarterback Jackson Erdmann complete four of 10 passes for 71 and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions.

The loss gives Roseville a final record of 9-3.

With its victory, Rosemount advances to the Prep Bowl and chance at its first state championship since 1981. It will be Rosemount’s first trip to the finals since losing to Wayzata in 2010.

Awaiting the Irish is Eden Prairie, a 47-22 winner over Totino-Grace in the other semifinal. Eden Prairie is gunning for its third consecutive state championship.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

Class 6A state football tournament

Quarterfinals

Game 1 - Eden Prairie 42, Lakeville North 14
Game 2 - Totino-Grace 34, Osseo 33
Game 3 - Rosemount 38, Eastview 7
Game 4 - Roseville 24, Maple Grove 21

Semifinals

Game 5 - Rosemount 35, Roseville 28
Game 6 - Eden Prairie 47, Totino-Grace 22

Championship game,
Nov. 29, 7 p.m. at Metrodome

Game 7 - Eden Prairie vs. Rosemount

 

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