Oct. 16—CADOTT — Needing a victory to clinch a spot in the playoffs with conference champion Spring Valley coming to town, Cadott's chances at reaching the postseason seemed slim.
But don't tell the Hornets the odds.
Cadott took fate into its own hands, stunning the Cardinals 28-6 on Friday to punch its ticket to the playoffs. In doing so, the Hornets earned a return to the postseason for the first time since 2005. An added bonus: They snapped Spring Valley's 13-game win streak in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference that dated back to 2019.
"It's awesome," Hornets senior Gavin Tegels said. "There have been some talented groups that have come through here, but to be able to say that we were the group that got to the playoffs is awesome. We can finally say we did it instead of we should have or could have."
Tegels ran for a pair of scores and threw for another to help the Hornets pull off the upset. It was plenty of offense, and far more support than the Cadott defense needed.
The Hornets limited the Cardinals to 175 yards in a strong performance defensively. Spring Valley took a hit when star quarterback Connor Ducklow departed the game early with an injury, and the Cardinals couldn't get much going in his stead.
"We thought we came in with a pretty good game plan," Cadott coach Jeff Goettl said. "Unfortunately for them, their quarterback got a little nicked up and that probably changed everything. But we worked hard and we're just happy we were able to earn our way into the playoffs."
Cadott technically made the playoffs in 2020, but it came under unusual circumstances. To make the postseason last year, a team only had to voice its desire to play more games. And when the Hornets got there, both of their opponents forfeited, meaning they never played a playoff game.
This fall, the usual system returned. Teams had to earn their way in with victories, and Cadott's hopes came down to the final week of the regular season. By finishing with a 4-3 record in the Dunn-St. Croix, the Hornets played their way into the postseason for the first time in nearly two decades.
"It means everything to us," Tegels said. "This was our goal, and it means everything to be able to accomplish your goals in life. It's just awesome."
Cadott scored 21 unanswered points to pull away from the Cardinals. Diego Schmitt scored a 1-yard touchdown for Spring Valley to cut the score to 7-6 in the second quarter, but that was the closest the Cardinals got.
Tegels ran for his second rushing score of the game in the second quarter, and threw a 29-yard score to Tristan Drier in the third. Drier also threw a touchdown to Sonnentag in the third quarter.
It all added up to a complete victory when the Hornets needed it most.
"I'm still trying to soak it all in," Tegels said. "We came from the Cloverbelt (Conference) where we played Regis every year, and this is the Regis of our new conference. Feels good to finally beat them."
Tegels ran for 50 yards on 13 carries. Sonnentag had a team-high 71 rushing yards on nine carries.
Brady Bednarek carried the ball nine times for 67 yards for the Cardinals.
Cadott finishes the regular season 6-4. Spring Valley takes a 7-2 record into the postseason. They're two of the Dunn-St. Croix's six playoff teams. Spring Valley will be making an eighth straight postseason appearance in the traditional qualifying format, while Cadott returns for the first time since its current players were in diapers.
"I'm so proud of them, they're a great group of kids," Goettl said of the Hornets. "They played great and I'm really proud of them."
Cadott 28, Spring Valley 6
C: Gavin Tegels 6 run (Peter Weir kick).
SV: Diego Schmitt 1 run (kick failed).
C: Tegels 6 run (Weir kick).
C: Tristan Drier 29 pass from Tegels (Weir kick).
C: Ryan Sonnentag 18 pass from Drier (Weir kick).
Team & Individual Statistics
RUSHING (att-yds): Spring Valley (35-148): Brady Bednarek 9-67, Schmitt 10-38, Tristan Neisinger 8-28, Justin Rielly 1-17, Cade Stasiek 4-7, Connor Ducklow 3-(-9). Cadott (44-155): Kaleb Sonnentag 9-71, Tegels 13-50, Teagan Ritter 10-22, Nick Fasbender 7-8, Drier 5-4.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yds): Spring Valley: Ducklow 3-6-0-24, Stasiek 1-4-0-3. Cadott: Drier 4-5-0-46, Tegels 1-1-0-29.
RECEIVING (rec-yds): Spring Valley: Tyler Bowman 3-27, Bednarek 1-0. Cadott: Drier 1-29, R. Sonnentag 1-20, Tegels 1-15, K. Sonnentag 1-10, Ritter 1-1.