The Scotties football team's dream of bringing a state championship game back to the home field will have to wait another year.
Glasgow lost to the Baker Spartans, 22-7, in the Class B semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Baker. Scotties fans, the band and cheerleaders packed the Spartans stands. In the end, the Spartans were simply a better and stronger team. The Spartans controlled both the ball and the clock for most of the game, while crippling Glasgow's offense.
It was also the Spartans who ended the Scotties' playoff season last year. The Scotties lost to Baker, 16-13, in the quarterfinals. It was a close game.
This time, Glasgow ended up with a minus-9 yards rushing and 12 complete passes out of 32 attempts.
The final score did not reflect how tight the game actually was. Until Baker converted a fourth-down-and-5 from Glasgow's 31-yard line early in the fourth quarter, and finished the drive by scoring their second touchdown, the Scotties were still within 2 points.
Glasgow's lone touchdown came at the end of the first quarter, after a blocked field goal kick by Hinsdale's Valentin Robert was ruled as roughing against the Spartans. The roughing penalty set up the Scotties nicely with an automatic first down, at the 3-yard line. Johnathon Koessl cut to the left on the first-down handoff from Thibault, then bounced outside to outrun his defender Seth Barkley for the first touchdown of the game. After a successful PAT kick by Robert, Glasgow was up 7-0.
Early in the second quarter, Baker came right back on two big rushes of 15 yards and 40 yards by running back Jonathan Wiseman to arrive at Glasgow's 2-yard line. Running back Mason Melby quickly scored the Spartans' first touchdown. A failed 2-point conversion gave Glasgow a narrow lead, 7-6, at 8:57 of the second quarter.
In the next possession, the Scotties started off by completing an 8-yard pass to Keil Krumwiede before quarterback Jason Thibault was sacked while rolling out to his right for a 6-yard loss. And overthrown pass on the third down forced Glasgow to punt the ball back to Baker. Successive rushes by Baker's Seth Barkley and Wiseman had the home team knocking on Scotties' end zone door. As Baker moved the ball down to Glasgow's 6-yard line, the Scotties defense held strong. Tanner Roness came through Baker's line to drop their running back Joe Fisher for a three yard loss, forcing the Spartans to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Melby. Baker had its first lead, 9-7.
It was at this point of the game that Glasgow's offense began to crumble. The Spartans defense stifled Glasgow's ground attack while guarding the receivers tightly. Incomplete passes, either overthrown or dropped, plagued quarterback Jason Thibault and his targets.
After returning the kickoff to the Spartans' 34, Thibault took the snap and completed an 11-yard pass to sophmore Zack Miller for another first down. However, on the next play from scrimmage, Thibault was pressured while rolling right and threw a pass to an area without a receiver, resulting in a penalty of 15 yards and the loss of down. To make matters worse, with 1:54 left in the second quarter, Thibault's next pass to Krumwiede was underthrown and intercepted by Baker's Wiseman. Baker also had its share of incomplete passes, leaving the score 9-7 in Baker's favor at halftime.
Glasgow would not regain the lead.
"The deciding factor was their running game," said Scottie head coach Greg Liebelt. "We wanted to take advantage of our tall wide receivers and throw the ball more but the passes weren't effective. The Baker players block well and we couldn't run the ball much. They weren't necessarily bigger than we are but their skills are fundamentally sound. It was hard to us to get the ball back," said Liebelt.
In the third quarter, both teams were scoreless. Glasgow's hard-fighting defense thwarted Baker's runs that outlasted Glasgow's possessions in minutes and distance, but Scotties' own aerial offense suffered quick 3-and-outs. Early in the third quarter, Glasgow almost struck gold on a third-down pass attempt to Fossum to the right sideline, where Fossum dove for the ball at Baker's 7-yard line and missed the catch by inches.
From this point, the Scotties were never able to get close to scoring again.
As the third quarter drew to a close, Scotties' Tyler Wesen and Ryan Grandchamp stopped Baker's advance at the 3-yard line. Switching sides did not slow Baker's momentum as Melby easily carried the ball in for a 3-yard touchdown. Krumwiede blocked the PAT kick and so the Spartans came up ahead, 15-7, three seconds into the fourth quarter.
Frustration was building as the red-and-white fought to keep this a one-possession game. At 11:11 of the fourth quarter, Thibault was able to connect with Fossum and Krumwiede consecutively for a 16-yard and 21-yard gain, and the crowd was getting excited. But a low rolling snap had Thibault scrambling for fumble recovery and cost a precious third down. It forced them to punt the ball once again.
The Scottie defense was able to stop the Spartans and got the ball back with 3:45 left in the clock at their own 36-yard line. Twenty seconds and four incomplete passes later, Baker regained control and eventually ran in its second touchdown of the fourth quarter at 0:58, a 16-yard run by Melby who punched through bodies of Scottie defense. With a good PAT kick, the Spartans' 22-7 lead seemed insurmountable.
An interception by Baker's quarterback, Jordan Walker, of a last desperation attempt from Thibault to Fossum at 0:01 sealed Baker's victory.
Mason Melby scored all of Bakers' three touchdowns. He rushed 189 yards and Wiseman rushed 116 yards out of Baker's total 372 yards.
Glasgow's Chase Fossum caught four passes for 95 yards, and Keil Krumwiede caught 6 passes for 61 yards, respectively.
Glasgow's defense did an outstanding job giving up only 22 points to a tough running team.
Baker (11-0) will host the defending 2012 champion, Missoula Loyola (10-0), for the Class B state title showdown this Saturday. Baker lost out to Loyola last year during the semifinal round.
Disappointed and heart-broken, the boys were emotional afterward. They showed tremendous pride and courage despite the loss.
Senior Lachlan Vaira, under serious pain from a finger broken just last weekend, refused to sit on the side line. He made several huge tackles. Dallas Capdeville, too, blocked with a hand in cast. Jason Thibault limped through the game with his sore ankle, which no doubt affected his throws. Johnathan Koessl's shoulder and hand appeared to be injured in the second half. He screamed out his frustration while teammate Parker Kulczyk urged him,"Dig deep, Koessl! You can do this!"
Valentin Robert, a French exchange student, expressed gratitude to his teammates after the game. "You guys are my family. I'd never played football before and now I have just loved it. I'm very proud of being a part of our team!"
Coaches also expressed how much they have enjoyed coaching this group of young men. "We lost to a better team, but it's incredible how far we've come along this season. Look at all the injuries we have, and you kids never stopped fighting. Keep the dream alive and work hard. I have no doubt that you will go far in life!" said Liebelt.
Assistant coach Bryan Krumwiede urges players to start weight training early.
"Baker players were just stronger than us. You've got to start the weight room as a freshman; don't wait until you are a junior or a senior," said Krumwiede.
The Scotties finished its football season with a 9-2 record.
For 12 seniors, the last football game of their high school career is over. These seniors are: Lane Herbert, Ryan Grandchamp, Lachlan Vaira, Johnathan Koessl, Mikal Mavencamp, Luke Gunderson, Jared Smith, Tyler Wesen, Harley Eliason, Connor Simensen, Skyler Fisher and Abby Mehling.
They might be found on the basketball court or the hockey rink this winter.