By Ren Clayton

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been quite the ride for the Orono football team. They are getting ready to play in the Class AAAA state semifinals this weekend despite only winning two games before the postseason started.

“We’re on fire,” said Orono head football coach Joe McPherson.

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After the Orono football team went 2-6 in the regular season, things have changed in the playoffs.

“I’d say we really just hit a groove. I mean we’re clicking and the perfect time right now. The run game’s strong and the passing game’s strong right now.”

The Spartans played a tough schedule. Five of their eight regular season games were against team a class higher than them.

“It was hard. You could see it in their faces, they wanted to win,” said McPherson. “Everyone wants to win. But they stayed with our philosophy of just getting better. And now it’s just fun.”

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They also dealt with a healthy share of injuries and inexperience.

“We have a lot of young players and they’ve just started to play really good,” said senior running back Aidan Mueller. “They’ve been good the whole season. But they had a lot of potential in the beginning and they’re starting to play as well as we know they can play, which is really cool to see.”

Junior quarterback Charlie Kraus is a new starter this year. He had his ups and downs with more ups lately as Orono is on a five-game winning streak.

“A lotta people that were once hating on us are kind of shutting their mouth a little bit on that side. So that’s pretty fun to hear,” said Kraus. “A lot of really good support, a lotta texts, in the hallways, seeing kids, ‘hey congrats man, so yeah that’s been awesome.”

The Spartans play their state semifinal game against Hutchinson on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Ren Clayton