Difficult loss ends gutsy playoff run by the Rockets [UPDATED]Published 7:42am Monday, December 2, 2013 Updated 11:43am Monday, December 2, 2013
The atmosphere and storyline were no different than last time, but something felt different in the air. The Underwood Rockets had been playing David to its opponent’s Goliath for most of the playoffs and Friday’s game would be no different. When it was all said and done, the only difference was the outcome.
After surprising sectional opponents and dominating state challengers, the Rockets ran into a much more experience and very talented Grand Meadow football team. The Superlarks were thirsty for redemption. Last season’s state runner-up was determined to beat whoever they faced and the Rockets ended up being that team as Grand Meadow claimed a 28-6 victory Friday afternoon.
In what was marked as the final Prep Bowl in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the two teams did not disappoint creating drama and moments of suspense.
From someone sitting in the stands, you felt that the game would break open at any moment. The Superlarks controlled the ball for most of the game and got the breaks when they needed it, but the Underwood defense would not give in making four stops on fourth down. The bend but don’t break defense attempted to keep the small community’s state title hopes alive.
The difference came on offense.
The Rockets, who’s strength came from their play in the trenches, could not move the ball down the field as Grand Meadow clogged holes, stifled receives and put pressure on quarterback Adam Creek throughout the game. After going three and out, the Rockets would give up great field position to their dangerous opponent, rendering the previous defensive stand a mere side note.
After rushing for more than 200 yards a game, Noah Thompson and the Underwood running attack was nearly non-existent as the Superlark defense kept the Rockets in check. Thompson, who injured his hand in the fourth quarter, gave way to Dylan Kalenze for the remainder of the game. Creek, who has played phenomenal in the playoffs, could not find his groove, except for a 32 yard touchdown pass to LeRoy Hauge.
The matchup between Thompson and Grand Meadow running back Landon Jacobson was overshadowed by the dominant play of the Superlarks quarterback Trenton Bleifus. Bleifus was as slippery as an eel as Underwood tacklers never seemed to get a grasp of the signal caller in key moments. Though not perfect, Bleifus’ errant passes and overthrows seemed to find the ground, rather than an Underwood defenders hands.
As a member of the media, what I will miss most about this season’s Rockets team is the seniors. This group of players carried a level of confidence that most high school students have yet to establish. Never boastful, these players have found a way to add another rich experience to a community that already is full of pride.
Fans shouldn’t look at this game as a negative reflection on the team’s performance throughout the year. The team was only favored once during their journey to the title game as a rough regular season saw them accumulate two losses to section opponents. But the Rockets wore the underdog moniker with pride as they were able to push further into the playoffs as they have ever done before.
Congratulations to the Rockets on an amazing season.