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Eagles flying high, staying focused as state semifinals clash inches closer

The Maple River football team is one of the final four in the Class AA State Tournament.
Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 8:20 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2021 at 8:27 PM CST
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MAPLETON, Minn. (KEYC) — The Maple River football team is one of the final four in the Class AA State Tournament.

”The idea of everything is a business trip from here on out, from the regular season out is our mentality as a program, players and staff alike,” head coach Dusty Drager said. “It’s a lot of focus these last couple of weeks.”

The Eagles are coming off another dominant victory this postseason after downing Pipestone Area 39-20 in the quarterfinals. Another lopsided final score doesn’t tell the whole story.

Maple River came back against the Arrows after falling behind by a couple of scores early, which is something the Eagles haven’t needed to do in 2021 due to playing with a lead in essentially every game this season.

“I think for our team, it’s just, we don’t quit. We’re always trying to improve. No matter what the score is, I just know that all of our teammates are going to keep playing until the clock hits zero,” senior Ethan Evenson said.

“We haven’t trailed much this season at all, maybe a couple of minutes total. I was pleasantly surprised with how well our kids handled that,” Drager added.

The battle-tested Eagles lean on experience up front to control the line of scrimmage, making it tough on opposing teams by the time the second half rolls around.

Against Pipestone, the line helped running back Tim Buckholtz rack up 215 yards on the ground to go with three touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, that group played a large part in forcing five turnovers.

With West Central Area coming up next, the Eagles know it’ll take a similar performance to get the opportunity to play for a state title.

“Really staying on our blocks doing our jobs, communicating. All five up front, they can run a five front, three front, so us communicating with each other, we can point out who we’re going to block, go block them and they’re not going to be able to stop us,” senior Thayne Decker said.

All the action from U.S. Bank Stadium kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

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