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Football: Bombers look for one more upset

Cannon Falls quarterback Hunter Johnson throws to a receiver during a passing drill Thursday. Johnson and the Bombers will face Rochester Lourdes Saturday in Kasson with a trip to the Class 3A state tournament on the line. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
Cannon Falls defensive lineman Clay Broze waits for his coaches to finish explaining a formation that the Bombers will see Saturday when Cannon Falls faces Rochester Lourdes in the Section 1AAA championship game in Kasson. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

Don’t let the lack of towers at the Cannon Falls High School football field fool you. The light bulb went on for the Bombers about two weeks ago. Now Cannon Falls hopes Rochester Lourdes doesn’t know where the light switch is.

“We’ve thought we’ve been a good team all year, and things just didn’t go our way,” Cannon Falls head coach Josh Hofstedt said. “We’ve kind of ironed out some of those wrinkles that have been hurting us all year, and we’ve got a good fit personnel-wise with our guys. It was a lot of stepping up from some of our senior players that made the biggest difference, I think.”

The Bombers opened the season with wins over Kenyon-Wanamingo and La Crescent, sandwiched around a loss to Byron. But the wheels fell off shortly after with five straight losses to close the regular season.

But on Oct. 22, Cannon Falls took out Tri-City United, the state’s No. 3-ranked team in Class 3A. Last Saturday, the Bombers crushed Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the Section 1AAA semifinals. 

That leaves the Bombers, at No. 7, the lowest seed in any of the state’s 52 sections.

This week, Cannon Falls will get a chance to be one of the least likely state tournament teams in recent memory when the Bombers head to Kasson to play top-seeded and top-ranked Rochester Lourdes.

In the final game of the regular season, the Eagles beat the Bombers 40-20 behind Kane Carstens’ 261 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

If the Bombers are to upset the Eagles, stopping Carstens will be the key. If it sounds unlikely, keep in mind that Cannon Falls was without much of the second level of its defense in Week 8.

“We had a lot of new linebackers in, and some people that usually don’t play linebacker, in at linebacker, and now we got our guys back and healthy so that should definitely help us out,” Cannon Falls defensive lineman Clay Broze said.

Offensively, the Bombers really just need to do what they did the first time, with the exception of turning the ball over.

“We have a few things that we’re going to give a try, but we put as much, or maybe more yardage in our last game than any other team did all year,” Hofstedt said. “We had some good things that we did. But we just can’t turn the ball over.”

Quarterback Hunter Johnson was 18 of 35 for 236 yards in Week 8, passing for one touchdown and two interceptions. The Eagles also returned a fumble for a touchdown, which gave Lourdes the lead after Jordan Lundell had returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for a score.

Johnson, who also ran for 131 yards and a touchdown, knows that the Bombers can keep up with the Eagles. And at 7 p.m. Saturday, he and the rest of his teammates will have a chance to keep the lights on for one more week.

“I think it’s just a bunch of guys we can trust, and something sparked in the playoffs where we didn’t want it to end,” Johnson said. “And now we’re playing for our lives, and it’s working out pretty good for us.”

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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