GLENCOE – The postseson is what the Dassel-Cokato football team lives for. That was on full display once again as the Chargers finished off their season with a convincing 35-7 win over Glencoe-Silver Lake Friday night.
“I’m super proud of our guys,” Chargers coach Ryan Weinandt said. “We had three really tough losses in the regular season. We take a lot of pride in the playoffs. These seniors over the last three years are 9-2 in the postseason. I don’t think there’s a team in D-C that’s had a run of nine playoff wins in three years. They play well when it counts.”
“When playoffs come around, everybody just kind of realizes that we need to elevate our game that much more,” senior Collin Asplin said. “We’ve always been a playoff team. We want to win during the regular season, but we’re preparing for the playoffs.”
The history of postseason success didn’t show for the Chargers in the early going in their matchup against the Panthers. After going three-and-out on their first drive of the game, a bad snap on the punt set up G-SL with a red-zone opportunity immediately. It took G-SL just one play as Mitchell Jaskowiak scored from 11 yards, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead early.
“It couldn’t have gone much worse right away,” Chargers coach Ryan Weinandt said. “They are a very good team. They got banged up earlier, but they had a bunch of their guys back tonight. We knew they were going to be very solid.”
Things got even worse for the Chargers as they fumbled it away on their second drive. After giving up a touchdown on their first defensive play, it was the time for D-C to turn things around with their defense.
“The first couple of minutes, it was a little rough,” senior Teddy Berquist said. “We just screwed our heads on straight. We knew we needed to be more disciplined. We can’t let that happen. We just played as a team and kept them to minimal yards. That was the game-changer for us.”
D-C’s defense came up with a stop, forcing G-SL to attempt a long field goal. Thanks to a high snap, the Chargers blocked the field goal attempt, setting their offense up in good field position.
From that point on, it was all D-C. After converting a 4th and 3, Eli Gillman scored on a six-yard touchdown run, bringing D-C within one.
After D-C’s defense forced another stop, Weinandt put a lot of faith in his offense on their next scoring drive. The Chargers converted three fourth-down attempts on the drive that was capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by Asplin to give them their first lead of the game.
“We converted a bunch of fourth downs,” Weinandt said. “Those are critical. If we don’t get those, this is a totally different game. Those conversions are huge. They can change the whole game.”
With two offenses built on running the ball, Weinandt knew each possession was going to be big. The way his defense was playing, that gave him the confidence to keep going for it on fourth down throughout the game.
“They wanted to do exactly what we wanted to do,” Weinandt said. “We want to slow it down and take a bunch of time off the clock. I just thought we had to. We weren’t getting big gainers right away, so I thought we just had to be OK with getting two or three yards each run. I didn’t want to give it back to them that’s for sure.”
Since giving up the opening score to G-SL, D-C’s defense was locked in the rest of the way. That only gave the offense more confidence as they posted 35 unanswered points to finish off the season with a win.
“Once we got ahead of them a bit, they got out of their game,” Weinandt said. “Our defense just played phenomenally. At halftime, I talked with Schuette and asked if we could keep going for some fourth downs. He thought confidently the defense could get the ball back if we didn’t get them. That made it a lot easier for me to keep going for it on fourth down.”
The win for the Chargers caps off another impressive season, especially for their seniors. With all the uncertainty and changes they’ve had to deal with, they’ve left a legacy at D-C for years to come.
“It feels good,” Berquist said. “We put in the work through the summer and everything. We didn’t know what we were going to get out of this season, but we just prepared to be the last man standing. Here we are.”
“Coming into the year, we didn’t even know if we would have a real season,” Asplin added.”Now at the end, we were ready to play Litchfield and then switched to play these guys. Basically, we had one day to prepare for these guys. Ending the season on a win is an amazing feeling.”
Selfless play and the hunger to win has been the motto for the Chargers all season long. With so many different players playing different positions this season, all that mattered was winning.
“If you ask anybody about this team, nobody is going to care about their stats,” Asplin said. “We want to win. We don’t care where we’re playing. We want the best for the team. Whoever is called up, they’re ready to step up.”
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