PREP STATE FOOTBALL: Wabasso shuts out Braham 22-0

ST. CLOUD Wabasso did not break for any big plays as it had the games leading up to the state quarterfinals.

Regardless, Wabasso’s defense stepped up big time in shutting out Section 7A’s Braham 22-0 in the Class A State Football Quarterfinals on Saturday at St. Cloud State University’s Husky Stadium.

“Defense is a big factor in the game – defense wins championships,” Wabasso senior tight end and defensive end Devan Liebl said. “If we do our job, I think we’ll keep winning.”

The Rabbits (11-1), who beat the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in Class A to reach state, started the game with a 12-play, 62-yard drive that was capped off by a 7-yard touchdown run by fullback Jared Welch.

On the Rabbits’ next drive, senior running back Mitchell Fulton ran it in from 11 yards out to give them a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.

“We got off on the right foot early on in scoring a couple touchdowns early,” Wabasso coach Joe Kemp said. “It gives us the lead. It puts a lot of pressure on teams when they know we’re going to score. They can’t make too many mistakes when they’re on the offensive side.”

The Bombers (8-3) were unable to get past midfield until late in the second quarter, but a couple of missed throws and a big sack by Liebl sent them into the locker room with nothing to show for it.

After two stalled drives in the third quarter and one in the fourth, Wabasso finally found the end zone on a 25-yard run by Fulton to take a 22-0 lead with 2:54 to go.

Braham was still gunning for the end zone late, but junior linebacker Myles Zeug picked off a tipped pass to put it away. Braham junior quarterback Hunter Giffrow threw four interceptions in the game.

“We got all over the field defensively and made plays,” Kemp said. “We got some takeaways tonight, used our speed to get to places on the field. As we’ve been all year, I thought the defense was outstanding and I think they carried us tonight.”

Wabasso junior quarterback Nick Altermatt finished 4 for 7 passing for 70 yards and rushed for 44 yards on 12 carries. Fulton finished with a game-high 194 rushing yards on 30 carries for two touchdowns, while Welch had 33 yards rushing on six carries for one touchdown.

Wabasso advanced to the state semifinals, where it faces Minneapolis North of Section 4A at 11:30 a.m. next Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. North finished the season ranked No. 2 and was the Class A runner-up last year, but Liebl said he doesn’t expect the team to be intimidated.

“We’ve just got to do our jobs,” Liebl said. “I think we can come out on top.”

Braham 0 0 0 0 – 0

Wabasso 8 6 0 8 – 22

Scoring Summary

First quarter

Wabasso: Welch 7-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. good), 6:19

Second quarter

Wabasso: Fulton 11-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. no good), 11:47

Third quarter

None

Fourth quarter

Wabasso: Fulton 25-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. good), 2:54

Wabasso Individual Statistics

Passing (C-A-Y-TD-I): Altermatt 4-7-70-0-0

Rushing (A-Y-TD): Fulton 30-194-2; Altermatt 12-44-0; Welch 6-33-1

Receiving (C-Y-TD): Fulton 2-52-0; Colton Taylor 2-18-0

Defense (Tkl): Liebl 9; Fulton 4; Frericks 4