BY Ryan Schleicher – SUN NEWSPAPERS
Just think of the implications carried by the number one. How important is that number? Not only does one suggest that something has been isolated, one is also directly correlated to winning.
Reference as to how we use it. How about using the phrase “one and only”? Let me suggest “one-of-a-kind”? One means important, special … above all else. We throw the number one around all over the place. Even the heartiest of heartthrobs can’t stay away from attaining “number one” somewhere along the line. In fact, the most popular music group on the planet is of one—One Direction.
One is also a very important to Totino-Grace as they try to prove why their number-one ranking in the state is no farce in terms of football.
After the Eagles routed Apple Valley last Friday at Griffin Stadium 42-14 there is no arguing that Totino-Grace is one win away from playing in the game to determine the true number-one team in the state.
However, before aspirations get to high, head coach Jeff Ferguson is quick to remind everyone that his team is focused on taking the journey through the state playoff bracket one game at a time. Totino-Grace has appeared rejuvenated displaying faucets of their team ability that went unnoticed for much of the season.
One such area is that of the passing game. Eagles quarterback A.J. LaPanta established himself as methodical game manager while being under center but he has become a true weapon during this postseason only adding more dynamic to an already explosive offense.
LaPanta playing with a heavy heart stemming from the loss of his grandpa only hours before the game went 5-for-11 on passing earning 70-yards total through the air. Totino’s offensive willingness to throw the ball clearly established the run game which not only dominated the game overall by gaining 364 total yards led by Kez Flomo notching two-touchdowns and 119 yards but controlled the tempo as well.
Time of possession was unmatched as the Eagles held on to the ball over 16-minutes longer than Apple Valley. A complete polar opposite in opponents’ offensive strategy did not phase the Eagles.
Spring Lake Park only attempted three passes the week before in their attempt to knock off Totino-Grace whereas Apple Valley attempted 40-passes. That attack had minimal impact on the scoreboard as Apple Valley quarterback completed 26-of-39 pass attempts for 194 yards. This game was decided on the Eagles ability to win the turnover battle.
Apple Valley fumbled twice — both recovered by Totino-Grace as well as intercepted once. Ferguson was quick to note to his players upon the post-game consultation that he is, “very proud of all you guys; the win was a total team effort.”
Fergusons’ quote is interesting to note because the cohesiveness displayed on this football team is imperative to their success. Even though the number one carries great importance, on this team there is no number one. A collective team unit constitutes as one in regards to this team.
Totino-Grace gets back to the Metrodome Nov. 17 to play their semi-final state matchup of Bemidji (8-3) at 7 p.m. to determine one participant in the state class 5A championship game.
Does this team have enough in it to conquer the class 5A state championship? Perhaps, one will just have to wait and see.