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Football: Rosemount earns return trip to state

Garett Bothun tries to find a path upfield during Saturday's win over Mounds View.

Entering this season, Rosemount football coach Jeff Erdmann knew his team had put in the work necessary for a successful season.

The coach knew he had a talented squad. He knew he had a hard-working squad.

Now he has a state-tournament squad.

"You just never know because injuries play a part, how well you mesh, those types of things," Erdmann said. "You always have question marks at the beginning of the season. But we felt good about our group of guys.

"We felt good about our overall strength and speed. We had a good summer of weightlifting. We felt good about that stuff."

Rosemount earned the trip -- and a section title -- by beating rival Eastview for a second time this season. This time, the Irish earned a 33-10 victory in the Class 5A, Section 3 finals.

They advanced to the state tournament for the second time in three years, and will face Mounds View in the opening round on Saturday, Nov. 8 with a 6 p.m. game at Griffin Stadium in St. Paul.

"It felt great," Erdmann said about last week's win. "It's always nice to beat Eastview. To have it be for the championship is even better."

Beating Eastview for a second time in three weeks should have been a challenge. Erdmann was wary of playing a team again in such a short amount of time.

But his players were ready for the challenge.

Senior Jack Pauly returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to set the tone, and Rosemount responded to changes in the Eastview schemes.

"I think they did a few things differently," Erdmann said. "They tried to defend us differently on the perimeter. They were concerned about (Zachary) Vraa and doubled-covered him. Offensively, they struggled to run and tried a new wrinkle, and we were able to be successful in stopping that as well."

The first time around, Vraa and the Irish made several big plays through the air. This time, Rosemount wouldn't need the big pass plays.

The Irish completed only two passes -- quarterback Chase Vogler was 2-for-7 for 19 yards -- but they controlled the game with 49 rushes for 267 yards.

Andrew Malicki had 17 carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Vogler carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Malicki put Rosemount up 14-0 with a four-yard touchdown run before Eastview added its lone touchdown on a running back option pass on a direct snap.

It was all Eastview would get, even with perfect chances. The Irish fumbled once, giving the Lightning the ball on the 32-yard line. But Rosemount stopped Eastview on fourth-and-three from the 25-yard line.

"Defensively, we made a couple of huge stands," Erdmann said. "After we turned it over, we shut them down. Then they were able to drive inside the 10-yard line and we held them to a field goal. Those were two huge defensive stands for us."

Garrett Glaus added the final score on a fake punt and 34-yard run.

"You hope to get to the state tournament and see what happens there," Erdmann said. "I think they can be extremely proud of what they have accomplished. But, they are still hungry for more."