By Mark Bernstrom, assistant coach
The Bearcats went to Badger for the first round of playoffs to have another showdown with the BGMR Gators. The first time these two teams played it did not go well for KCC as they lost 2-22 in Hallock. In that game there were a few players out and half the players on the team were moved around into different positions.
This time around KCC was going into the game with all starters in their regular spots. This gave the coaches and players a great deal of confidence in facing BGMR again. The team had a hard time getting on track toward the end of the season, with some tough losses. They were hoping for a fresh start that would get them deep in the playoffs.
The first half of this game was full of ups and downs with plenty of fireworks. The scoring went back and forth as teams traded the lead seven times. KCC defense had a hard time finding an answer to the Gators offense as they marched up and down the field for touchdowns. The Gators had no answer for the Bearcats special teams as KCC racked up 258 yards on kickoff returns. Adam Gustafson ran the first one back for an 86-yard touchdown to tie the game up early, and that was his first run back of the year. After the first quarter BGMR held an 8-14 lead.
The second quarter saw five touchdowns. BGMR scored twice on long drives, and KCC scored three times set up by good field position by the return team. Again, Adam Gustafson and Chisum Schmiedeberg had big returns to put the offense in good situations to score. Daniel Gonzalez had a 2-yard run score, Kaleb Whitlock had a 2-yard run score, and Adam Gustafson finished off the half with a 44-yard score. All 2-point conversions on KCC touchdowns were successful. The Bearcats had a 32-28 half-time lead with all the momentum going into the second half.
KCC got the ball in the second half and was looking to add to their lead to keep the momentum on their side. The Bearcats had some success running the ball, but a holding call put them behind the sticks. All year this has been an issue to overcome long distances like this. On third and long BGMR intercepted the ball and put themselves into good field position, and they ended up scoring a few plays later to retake the lead. From that point of the game and forward BGMR never let go of the lead. They scored two more times to put the game out of reach, and defeat the Bearcats 32-46.
Throughout the second half KCC played hard but wasn’t able to find the breaks they did in the first half. BGMR won all the stat lines throughout the game, but KCC put up 528 all-purpose yards compared to 490 for BGMR. The offensive leader of this game was Adam Gustafson who had 155 rushing yards and 175 return yards along with 2 touchdowns. Kaleb Whitlock threw three for six for 87 yards and two of those went to Jacob Rice for 59 yards. It is always sad to see a season come to an end. This team never backed down from a challenge, but unfortunately, they were not able to find the win column as often as they would like.
The program is saying goodbye to six seniors who gave foundation to this team. They are third-year starters Cade Langen, Gunnar Klein and Zach Vig; second-year starters, Mitchell Docken and Mathew Stewart and; first-year starter Kaleb Whitlock. Thank you for your commitment to this program and the leadership that you have passed on to the underclassmen.
We had only two juniors this year and they are Daniel Gonzalez and Adam Gustafson. These two guys were a big part of the team and carried a good portion of the load with carrying the ball.
The four sophomores on the team are Evan Austad, Jacob Rice, TJ Gathridge and Carter Pankratz. These guys played all kinds of different roles with starting positions, and running scout teams in practice during the week. A lot of growth happened with this group throughout the year.
We had a bigger freshmen group come into the program this year and they were critical in both
By Mark Bernstrom, assistant coach