GRAND MEADOW –– It was the third game in nine days for No. 10-ranked Lanesboro, but it didn't care.
The Burros upset top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Grand Meadow 16-12 for the Section 1 Nine-Man football title Friday. It's the first time in a decade that Lanesboro has won a section crown.
"I can't feel anything right now," running back JT Rein said after the game. "There's just so much adrenaline flowing through my body. I'm so happy. I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow."
Rein rushed for 229 yards and two touchdowns to spark the Burros. The junior capped Lanesboro's opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, and he bolted free for a 43-yard touchdown scamper early in the third quarter which gave Lanesboro a 16-6 lead.
"Tonight, he just found a new gear," Burros coach James Semmen said. "It's nice to see that for him. He put in the time. It's really good stuff."
Grand Meadow was short-handed as starting running back Dustin Copley, wide receiver Luke Speer, TE/DE Ben Kraft and multiple others were held out of the game due to contact tracing for the coronavirus. They stood outside the chain-link fence with their jerseys on and screamed and shouted encouragement to their teammates all night long. When wideout Taylor Glynn made a diving touchdown grab on fourth-and-long, he pointed to his teammates through the fence in celebration.
With multiple two-way starters out, Grand Meadow had to lean on some young guys in a big spot. The Superlarks fought valiantly, but Lanesboro dominated the line of scrimmage all night long.
"I couldn't be prouder," Grand Meadow coach Gary Sloan said. "We lost the game. We had chances to win. We made too many mistakes. The effort that we had from the starters that we had and the new guys that we put in, I don't think they could've done much more.
"It's hard. I'm not going to lie. They're really good kids. Character-wise, they're really solid. I've had a lot of good teams with great character, but this team is up there. They're exceptional kids. It breaks my heart that they couldn't play, but I was really proud of the kids who did play tonight."
Grand Meadow's senior quarterback Evan Oehlke accounted for 170 of the Superlarks' 204 total yards of offense. His 50-yard sprint down the sideline set up the Superlarks' second and final touchdown. Daniel Smith pushed his way into the end zone from two yards out late in the third quarter to cut Lanesboro's lead to 16-12.
Lanesboro strung together multiple impressive drives in the fourth quarter, but one stalled at the 3-yard line after Smith hammered Lanesboro's quarterback Seth Semmen out of bounds. But Bodin Mayer and the Lanesboro defense teed off on a depleted Grand Meadow offensive line. Bodin Mayer had multiple big sacks including nearly forcing a safety.
Grand Meadow got the ball back one more time with just less than three minutes to play. The Superlarks drove to midfield but Mayer had another monster sack and forced Oehlke into a drive-killing intentional grounding penalty.
"He's the heart and soul of the defense," James Semmen said of Mayer. "He's that kid that came in every day this summer and pushed everyone. He made sure everyone else was doing what they were supposed to do."
Lanesboro fell to LeRoy-Ostrander 27-20 in Week 1, but the Burros didn't lose again for the rest of the year. The Burros finished with seven-straight wins, knocking off ranked opponents Southland and Grand Meadow in the process.
"It means great things, we put things together," coach Semmen said. "Gary (Sloan) is a phenomenal coach. He has one of the best programs in the state. I know they were missing guys. It's tough to deal with that stuff. I told the kids last night that there was no way they were going to come and lay an egg. We had to make sure we were ready. We were ironmen. Three games in nine days is so tough. They came out and did it."
Rein and the rest of the Burros couldn't contain their joy on the sideline. They hooped and hollered and kissed the Section Championship trophy.
Cameron Sneed was one of the Superlarks' seniors who didn't get to play one final game. He was inconsolable after the game. He wanted one more chance to play with his friends and teammates.
Friday was the final night of high school football across the state of Minnesota. High school sports will be on pause for the next four weeks. While Lanesboro celebrated its much-deserved section championship, Grand Meadow felt a little snakebitten.
But they had common ground on one thing: They were just thankful for the opportunity to play football this fall.
LANESBORO 16, GRAND MEADOW 12
Lanesboro 8 0 8 0 –– 16
Grand Meadow 0 6 6 0 –– 12
LANE –– JT Rein 2 run (Ben Snyder pass from Seth Semmen), 5:31
GM –– Taylor Glynn 18 pass from Evan Oehlke (conversion failed), 4:43
LANE –– JT Rein 43 run (Snyder pass from Seth Semmen), 3:07
GM –– Daniel Smith 2 run (kick blocked), 1:33
Total offense 318 204
Rushing 305 124
Passing 13 80
Fumbles-fumbles lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties 5-50 4-45
Lanesboro: JT Rein 34-229, Hayden Lawstuen 13-48; Seth Semmen 7-28. Grand Meadow: Daniel Smith 9-18, Corbin Ludemann 5-12, Evan Oehlke 13-90, Taylor Glynn 1-4.
Lanesboro: Seth Semmen 1-3, 13 yards; Grand Meadow: Evan Oehlke 4-13, 80 yards, 1 TD.
Lanesboro: Ben Snyder 1-13. Grand Meadow: Taylor Glynn 3-45, Daniel Smith 1-35.