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Storm bring home championship

11 2nd Ave N, Unit 103  |  Sauk Rapids, MN  56379

By: Anna Hinkemeyer
     The Sauk Rapids-Rice High School football team brought home a coveted award Oct. 12 as they returned from Alexandria: the North Central Red Division Championship. SRR defeated the Cardinals Friday evening, 22-21.
     “It feels good to bring that title home,” said Phil Klaphake, SRR head coach. “It’s a box we have wanted to check off. These kids work really hard at knowing their jobs, and they play extremely hard. Earning district championship has never happened [at Sauk Rapids-Rice] before. Districts have only been around for a few years now that we don’t have conferences in football.” 
     Earning the coveted title happened in the final seconds of the game. 
     The Storm were behind 21-14 going into the final plays when they took hold of the ball. 
     A pass from Cade Milton-Baumgardner resulted in a fumble, returned by the Cardinals back to the Storm’s 40-yard line, where it was then fumbled again. SRR recovered the football. 
     “Our guys had huge force and hustle on that play,” Klaphake said. “They knew the game was over if they didn’t get the ball.”
     Following the fumble, the Milton-Baumgardner made back-to-back passes to Christian Rodriguez downfield. The second reception, 11 yards downfield, met Rodriguez in the end zone at the final buzzer of the game. 
     “It felt pretty great to be in the end zone on that catch,” Rodriguez said. “It was awesome to be able to contribute on a good ball I was able to make a play on.” 
     JD Bates followed up with a two-point conversion to earn the win for the Storm 22-21. 
     The game started early for the Storm as they took the lead 7-0 in the first quarter on a 34-yard pass from Milton-Baumgardner to Rodriguez. Alexandria tied it up early in the second, but SRR was able to take the lead a second time, with Bates running 10 yards into the end zone. 
     The Storm let through two scoring plays by Alexandria in the third and early fourth quarters before coming to those final minutes. 
     “It always feels good when you can win,” Klaphake said. “We had a large group of supporters right behind us that made the win even better.” 
     With the final game of the season against Hutchinson on the horizon, scheduled to be played Wednesday, Klaphake and the Storm remain focused and ready. 
     “We are only focused on our next opponent,” Klaphake said. “After that, we will think about sections because the second we look too far forward, we lose.” 
    The Storm (6-1) take on Hutchinson (7-0) Oct. 17 at Hutchinson High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.