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Triton presses on in quest for 3rd state title

Powerful Cobras cherishing the moment

By Guy N. Limbeck

glimbeck@postbulletin.com

Winning never gets old.

Don Henderson has guided Triton to a pair of state football championships in the past 13 years and the veteran coach has the unbeaten Cobras in the Class AA state semifinals on Thursday. Second-ranked Triton (11-0) will take on unranked Hawley (10-2) at the Metrodome at 5:45 p.m.

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"Obviously it’s always exciting for me; it never gets old," Henderson said of playing in the Metrodome. "I’ve been away for a few years, you never know when you’ll get back there so you obviously want to cherish the moment."

Despite the magnitude of Thursday’s game, Henderson doesn’t believe the Cobras will suffer a case of nerves.

"I wouldn’t think so," the coach said. "We have a veteran enough team. ... I don’t think they’ll be wide-eyed up there."

One reason why Henderson is confident about the Cobras heading into the semifinals is the team’s defense. Triton allows less than nine points a game.

"I think it always comes down to defense at this point of the season," Henderson said.

Triton is solid throughout the lineup on defense. Linebacker Jake Harmon leads the Cobras in tackles and defensive tackle Derek Thaden is second. In the secondary, Riley Kispert and Damon Andrews have helped the Cobras pick off 24 passes this year and allowed just three touchdown passes. Andrews, who did not start until the fifth game, has seven interceptions.

Hawley relies on the run, but likes to use some non-typical offensives schemes. Those mostly include coming up quickly to the line quickly and using fast counts to catch the defense offguard.

"That might take some time getting used to, but once we get in a groove, we’ll be OK," Henderson said.

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Nick Paur has rushed for more than 1,800 yards this year for Hawley. He rushed for 308 in last week’s quarterfinal win over MACCRAY.

"We’ll have to know where he’s at," Henderson said.

The Cobras have a more balanced offense. Because they have rolled past so many teams, averaging 51 points a game, they haven’t had to use all of their weapons throughout many games.

"We haven’t had to show a lot of our script," Henderson said. "But if you don’t need it, why show it?"

Caleb Rissman leads Triton with more than 1,100 yards rushing and Beau Kvam has about 750 yards. Harmon and quarterback Zach Erdmann both have more than 500. Erdmann has also passed for more than 1,000 yards.

"Our thing is we’re going to use what works and stick with it," Henderson said.

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