STATE FOOTBALL: Rabbits ready for semifinal game against Ada-Borup

Independent file photo Wabasso’s Kyle Jacobson stiff arms a Bethlehem Academy opponent during their Class A quarterfinal game on Nov. 11. The Rabbits will face Ada-Borup/Norman County West today in the semifinals.

WABASSO – The Wabasso Rabbits played in the Class A state semifinals last year. In that game the Rabbits fell to eventual state champion, Minneapolis North, 16-8.

This year the Rabbits will take on Ada-Borup/Norman County West. The battle-tested Rabbits have one mission this year, and that mission is to reach the state championship game.

“We don’t want to settle for just getting here,” Wabasso coach Joe Kemp said. “I don’t think that’s what we did last year, but I think there is more of a sense that we are coming here to do a job. It’s not just a trip up here to U.S. Bank. We are coming here to do a job.”

The Rabbits finished the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record. They then won three straight in the section tournament to stamp their ticket to the 1A state tournament for a second year in a row. In the opening round of the state tournament the Rabbits cruised to a 53-14 victory over Bethlehem Academy.

This week they’ll face a tougher test against Ada-Borup/Norman County West. Kemp said that the Cougars have an efficient quarterback and a power ground game. Last week the Cougars rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

“They have a good quarterback,” Kemp said. “We have to keep him in the pocket. He doesn’t throw a lot, but he is the one that makes the offense run. They will try to run the ball down your throat with a lot of wrap plays and power plays. We have to take that stuff away and keep him in the pocket.”

On defense Kemp said that the Cougars have two imposing defensive ends. Kemp said they have to stay on their blocks if they are going to establish the run.

“They’ve got two really big defensive ends,” Kemp said. “They try to crack down the ends, which is where we try to run the ball. That’s going to be a challenge for us. Hopefully we can get them into space and pick the tempo up.”

The Rabbits have 13 seniors on the roster. Kemp said that the senior class will have to come up big if they are going to advance to the state championship game.

“We are going to rely a lot on that leadership,” Kemp said. “We have that mentality that we will play in a parking lot. We don’t care what time the game is or where it’s played. These kids want to do something special for Wabasso.”

The Rabbits have relied upon a strong defense and a high octane offense to get to this point. Kemp said that the Rabbits have to stick with what got them here in order to have success.

“We have to play our game,” Kemp said. “When you get this far you tweak some things, but you still have to stay true to who you are. We have to capitalize on turnovers and play mistake free football.”