by John Grones | November 14, 2006
Everyone knew that the Cromwell Cardinal/Mountain
Iron-Buhl Ranger quarterfinal state high school football matchup would be a
good one. What they didn’t expect was the amazing come-from-behind victory by
The two evenly matched teams went at it for a half, and
it appeared as if Mountain Iron-Buhl (MIB) was the better team. They held
Cromwell to less than 50 yards of total offense, while dominating the line of
scrimmage and the time of possession. The result was 128 yards on the ground,
97 yards in the air, and two touchdowns.
Mountain Iron-Buhl took a 14-0 halftime lead.
“For most of the game, we were being controlled by them
[MIB],” said head coach Jeff Gronner. “I tried to fire them up at halftime, but
it didn’t work.”
According to coach Gronner, the game turned around after
they switched back to their base 4-2 defense. “We started to make more stops
and forced them to punt,” Gronner added. “Then we came up with the third
quarter drive, and that gave us the momentum.”
That third quarter drive started on the Cardinals’ own
14-yard line. They would go 86 yards on 11 plays. Key plays included a 17-yard
pass from Cody Hendrickson to Levi Sheff; a Cody Hendrickson 14-yard run; a
Johny Richards 26-yard run; and a 13-yard pass from Cody to John Hedin.
Cody finished off the drive with a tremendous 10-yard
touchdown run where he stretched the ball over the goal line. John Hedin added
a two-point run, and Cromwell was within one score.
Earlier in the game, the Rangers pulled out a reverse
play for a 45-yard gain that set up their first score. They tried the play
again early in the fourth quarter, and it worked again. The first time, Brendan
Salo completed a pass to Matt Cerkvenik. This time Salo kept the ball and ran
for 28 yards down the Cromwell 4-yard line. Two plays later MIB’s Josh Rowe
barreled into the endzone from two yards out. On the two point conversion,
Cromwell defenders Levi Sheff and Cody Hendrickson teamed up to knock D.J.
Winfield out of bounds just inches shy of the goal line, leaving the score 20-8
in favor of MIB.
The game clock was now down to nine minutes left in the
game, and the Cardinals decided to open things up. “I figured the only way to
come back was to spread things out and let Cody do his thing,” coach Gronner
said. “Cody scrambled and made some great plays.”
The next drive was quick in part because MIB’s kicker
nearly missed the ball on the kickoff. What appeared to be an onside kick was
recovered by Cromwell on their own 43.
Cody took over the game from there. After two incomplete
passes, Cody hit John Hedin with a 18-yard pass, and on the next play hit Levi
Sheff in stride for a perfect 40-yard touchdown. The kick failed, but Cromwell
was within one score.
MIB was poised to run out the clock, but only managed
nine yards on their first three plays. They were forced to punt.
Cromwell continued where they left off the last drive.
Cody ran for three yards and then hit Jordan Johnson with a 45-yard pass. John
Hedin took the ball down to the 3-yard line, and after MIB’s encroachment
penalty, moved the ball half the distance to the goal. Cody plunged over to tie
the game at 20 with 2:00 left on the clock.
The two-point conversion was also critical, and again,
MIB assisted in the score. They were flagged for encroachment again, and again,
Cody plunged over for the score.
From that point on, the Cardinal defense continued their
strong play in the second half. Interceptions by Levi Sheff and Cody
Hendrickson sealed the victory.
Coach Gronner couldn’t say enough about the performance
by his team, especially Cody. “Our best play is when Cody scrambles,” said
And oh, by the way, he had 84 yards rushing, 142 yards
passing, and 23 tackles on defense.
That other star quarterback–he was held to 29 yards
rushing, 53 yards passing, and had six tackles.
Cromwell Cardinals vs Wheaton Warriors
Next up for Cromwell will be the Wheaton Warriors (11-0).
According to Jeff Gronner, he will be playing another team in his old high school
“I’ve watched film, and they are a run-oriented team,” he
said. “From what I’ve seen, they are big, physical and quick off the ball.
Against this team, we are going to have to get some big plays.”
“Our big advantage . . . we’ve been there. They haven’t.”
This article first appeared in the November 14 issue of
the Voyageur Press.