GRAND MARAIS— Coming into their semi-final round playoff tilt sporting a three-game winning streak, the Grizzlies had reason to dream. But hope met reality this past Saturday as top-seeded Cook …
GRAND MARAIS— Coming into their semi-final round playoff tilt sporting a three-game winning streak, the Grizzlies had reason to dream. But hope met reality this past Saturday as top-seeded Cook County shut down the North Woods passing attack and cruised to a 36-16 victory to advance to the Section 7 Nineman championship.
“Cook County outplayed us on Saturday,” said North Woods Head Coach John Jirik. “We played a good physical game but Cook County’s experience and ability to make plays at key times was too much for us.”
A much-improved Grizzlies offense had helped power its late-season win streak, but Cook County largely grounded the North Woods air attack on Saturday, allowing just 214 yards of total offense, or less than half the yardage the Grizzlies had been racking up in recent weeks. Senior quarterback Chase Kleppe, who had posted some outstanding numbers the past few weeks, completed six of 16 attempts for just 29 yards.
Freshman TJ Chiabotti carried the team on the ground, rushing for 90 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Chiabotti would also rack up seven tackles and one interception on defense. Kleppe added 29 yards rushing to his passing numbers.
On defense, senior Stefan Johansen and Junior Trevor Morrison and Kleppe all had nine tackles a piece.
For the season, the Grizzlies went 3-5 during regular season play and 1-1 during their playoff run.
Offensively, the team racked up 3,492 yards on the season. Kleppe would own 1,205 of those yards in passing and would also lead the team in defense with 104 tackles. Chiabotti led the team in rushing with 906 yards.
The team now looks ahead to the major changes next year will bring, changing to Class 1A 11-man football. Jirik said he’s happy with the progress the team made this year, but that a lot of work will need to be done between now and next August when practice for the next season begins. He’s optimistic that the team will make a mark on its new opponents.