Swedes cruise into football playoffs
Gothenburg ends regular season 7-1.
AINSWORTH—It was a handful of big plays that boosted Gothenburg past Ainsworth on Thursday night, not a collection of sustained drives.
But regardless of how it happened, the Swedes shut out the Bulldogs 36-0 to finish the regular season 7-1 and earn a state playoff game at home this week.
“It’s a little tough to get up for a game against Ainsworth at this point in the season,” Swede coach Craig Haake said of the 1-7 Bulldogs. “There wasn’t much excitement on either side of the ball.”
Gothenburg’s first touchdown came on a 2-yard run by Landen Haake midway through the first quarter. The point-after kick attempt was blocked, leaving the Swedes up 6-0.
That score stood through the end of the first period and into the second until Tannor Mroczek returned an Ainsworth punt 30 yards and then broke free two plays later for another 30-yard run into the end zone.
Landen Haake ran in the two-point conversion and Gothenburg led 14-0.
The quick possession gave the Swedes some momentum to carry into the offensive series.
Gothenburg used seven plays to travel 90 yards up the field, capping the drive with a 15-yard scoring run by Haake and a two-point conversion run by Joel Teahon.
“We kind of got on a little roll there,” the coach said.
With three minutes to play in the first half, Jeron Seimer intercepted a Bulldog pass and returned it 50 yards to the 9 yard line.
On fourth-and-goal, Teahon carried the ball in for the score and Dillon Gartner kicked the PAT.
The Swedes went into halftime leading 29-0.
“Ainsworth wasn’t moving the ball much,” Haake said, “but really, neither were we.”
That didn’t seem to matter much.
Mroczek returned Ainsworth’s second-half kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown and Gartner added the PAT kick to put Gothenburg up 36-0 and start the clock running.
“Our first-team offense ran one series in the second half and our first team defense was on the field for one series in the second half,” Haake said.
The rest of the time, he said, Gothenburg’s reserves were on the field.
“Everyone in a uniform got to play,” he said.
The Swedes finished with 288 total yards offense and held Ainsworth to 94 yards.
Landen Haake earned 107 yards rushing on 15 carries. Mroczek added 93 yards on 11 attempts.
Gothenburg received the No. 5 seed in the western bracket for the Class C-1 state playoffs and will host Minden in the first round on Thursday.
“When you get to the playoffs, you kind of want to play somebody new,” Haake said of the Whippets.
Gothenburg defeated Minden 33-14 in the fourth game of the season. The Whippets have won five straight for a 5-3 record.
“But on the other hand,” Haake said, “Minden is a known entity. We already know what they’re going to bring.”
That includes Pete Trausch, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound all-state lineman who will attempt to knock holes in the Swede defense.
“He’s a good player,” Haake said, “and they have other good players.”
When the Swedes played at Minden on Sept. 18, Gothenburg jumped on the Whippets early for a 26-0 halftime lead.
Haake said Minden contained the Swede offense early in the second half but Gothenburg was able to finish strong.
“I think it was important that we re-established the pecking order by the end of that game,” Haake said.
This is the eighth straight season the Swedes have qualified for the state playoffs.
The playoffs, he said, are all about taking care of business.
“Minden has our full attention. We can’t afford to look past anyone. We’ve just got to go take care of business.”
The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in Gothenburg.