MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hundreds of times in his mind, Levi Schmitz went through the routine of kicking a game-winning field goal to give Caledonia a state title.
He did just that on Friday.
Schmitz kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired and Caledonia beat Moose Lake/Willow River 25-22 in the Class 2A championship at the Prep Bowl.
It is the third straight title for Caledonia and fifth title in six years. The Warriors beat Moose Lake/Willow River 27-0 last year.
In a battle among the top two teams in the final Associated Press state poll, the top-ranked Warriors (13-0) took over on the Rebels’ 47 with 3:11 remaining. Quarterback Alex Varney and the offense took seven plays to get to the 8-yard line with 1 second remaining.
The snap was good. The hold was proper. The kick split the uprights with plenty of room to spare and Schmitz quickly found himself under a pile of joyous teammates.
“I had complete trust in my line and I was just focused on what I had to do,” said Schmitz, who like many of his teammates sported a blond mohawk.
It is the second straight game in which Schmitz made a big play. He recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown in Caledonia’s 26-24 semifinal win over BOLD.
Moose Lake/Willow River has lost in the final three of the last four years.
“We gave Caledonia everything that they could handle,” said Rebels coach Dave Louzek.
The Warriors tied the game with 5:45 to play when Varney — also a starting safety — returned an interception 14 yards to make it 22-22. The score came three plays after Varney was stopped at the Rebels 3 on fourth down.
“I felt like I just read it right and it happened,” Varney said. “I just came up and jumped it. Luckily it got tipped and I caught it for a pick-six.”
Trailing 15-7 at halftime, Moose Lake/Willow River (13-1) used two long scores to take a lead into the fourth quarter.
Jake Disterhaupt scored on a 71-yard run and Michael Pender added the 2-point conversion to tie the game midway through the third quarter. Disterhaupt, one of 10 finalists for the Mr. Football Award, finished with 97 yards rushing.
Late in the quarter, Rebels quarterback Tony Adamczak lofted a third-down pass to Isaac Coil, who caught the ball at his own 45 and outraced Varney down the left sideline to complete an 84-yard touchdown. It was the only completion of the game in 10 attempts for Adamczak.
“We made some big plays in the second half when we needed to. This year we played with them toe-to-toe. They just showed with their experience as champions they’re still the best in the state,” Louzek said.
Brad Strub scored from 1 yard out midway through the first quarter, but Disterhaupt countered with a 2-yard run to put the Rebels up 7-6. A 36-yard field goal by Schmitz put the Warriors ahead 9-7 midway through the second quarter.
Caledonia, which had a 179-42 advantage in first-half yardage, went up 15-7 when Varney and Strub connected for a 25-yard score with 1:33 to go.
In his final high school game, Varney finished with 131 passing yards and 64 rushing.
“I have all the confidence in the world in that man,” said coach Brent Schroeder.
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