CHERRY — The Cherry High School football team punched their ticket to the Section 7A championship game with a 68-8 7A semifinal win over Cook County Saturday at Tom Koskela Memorial Field.
The Tigers scored less than three minutes into the game en route to a 22-point first quarter, and they will now face Mountain Iron-Buhl in the title game on Friday at the Mesabi East Sports Complex.
“I’ve said it before that when you have athletes it makes the coaches look like we know what we’re doing,” Cherry coach Jason Marsh said. “We’ve got some playmakers.
“It’s fun. We added a few wrinkles here because we wanted to get in some practice and do a few new things. The kids responded well. I’m pleased.”
Cherry took the opening kickoff and only took one play to get on the board.
Quarterback Noah Sundquist hit Isaac Asuma with a 63-yard scoring strike to make it 8-0.
Cherry was off and running.
There was no rust having not played in nine days.
“We had a good week of practice,” Marsh said. “We gave them a few days off over MEA, and on Monday, they were raring to go.
“By the time we got to Thursday and Friday, they wanted to play a game.”
After that, Kaleb Rinerson had a 6-yard scoring run; and Mason Heitzman returned an interception 45 yards for a score and it was 22-0.
Cherry didn’t slow down in the second quarter, scoring four times.
Sundquist had touchdown runs of 10 and nine yards; Andrew Staples picked up a Vikings’ fumble and rumbled in from 45 yards out; and Sundquist hit Isaiah Asuma with a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 48-0 at the half.
We had a few guys in new spots, and we had a few new plays we wanted to get some live-game looks at,” Marsh said. “The kids responded well to what we put in.
“I was happy to see that. Defensively, it was the same thing. We had a few new things we wanted to do, and new people in spots. Again, they responded well.”
In the third quarter, Sundquist connected with Isaac Asuma on a 3-yard scoring pass, and Heitzman scored his second touchdown of the day on a 2-yard run.
Wes Helms finished the Tigers’ scoring with a one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter.
Marsh has wanted to see his passing game improve this season, and he’s getting what he wanted as Sundquist threw for 207 yard on a 75-percent completion percentage.
“We have four or five guys that are good receivers, and we have a quarterback who is growing a lot,” Marsh said. “It’s been fun to be able to add more and more into the passing game.”
It won’t take anything away from Cherry’s running game because that might have to resurface again in the future.
“We passed more here because we wanted to look at a few things,” Marsh said. “I’ve always been a firm believer in doing what works.
“We’re not going to get pigeonholed into one system. We’re going to do what works. It it works, we’ll keep doing it. It’s a good way to start the playoffs.”
Cook County had trouble moving the ball the whole game, but they Vikings did score in the fourth quarter as quarterback Hunter Rex connected with MaCoy Fairbanks on a 56-yard connection.
CC 0 0 0 8 — 8
CHS 22 26 14 6 — 68
C—Isaac Asuma 63 pass from Noah Sundquist (Sundquist pass to Noah Asuma)
C—Kaleb Rinerson 6 run (Sundquist pass to Isaac Asuma)
C—Mason Heitzman 45 interception return (run failed)
C—Sundquist 10 run (pass failed)
C—Andrew Staples 36 fumble return (pass failed)
C—Sundquist 9 run (Rinerson run)
C—Isaiah Asuma 11 pass from Sundquist (run failed)
C—Isaac Asuma 3 pass from Sundquist (run failed)
C—Heitzman 2 run (Jacob Koskela run)
C—Wes Helms 2 run (run failed)
CC—MaCoy Fairbanks 56 pass from Hunter Rex (Payton Morrison run)
Deer River 42,
DEER RIVER — The Warriors advanced into the Section 7A finals with the semifinal victory over the Bluestreaks at home Saturday.
Ben Storlie scored on a 6-yard run in the first quarter, then Ethan Williams caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Sam Rahier in the second.
Chisholm came back to make it a 16-8 game when Sean Fleming scored a two-yard run, but Rahier scored on a two-yard plunge to make it 24-8 at the half.
In the third quarter, Tygh Gullickson scored on a 12-yard run, then in the fourth quarter, Gullickson ran one in from 23 yards out.
Connor Vickerman had a one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter for the Warriors, who will play Braham in the finals.
CHS 0 8 0 0 — 8
DR 8 16 6 12 — 42
DR—Ben Storlie 6 run (Sam Rahier pass to Colton Hemphill
DR—Ethan Williams 11 pass from Rahier (Tygh Gullickson run)
C—Sean Fleming 2 run (Dom Olson pass to Eli Pessenda)
DR—Rahier 2 run (Rahier run)
DR—Gullickson 12 run (pass failed)
DR—Gullickson 23 run (pass failed)
DR—Connor Vickerman 1 run (run failed)