Rebels outgunned at State
November 17, 2023
The Moose Lake/Willow River boys football team entered last week's Class AA quarterfinals confident after a section victory over Barnum and how well the defense had played all season long, but Eden Valley-Watkins brought weapons the Rebels had not faced much this season. The game ended with a 60-0 shutout victory for the Eagles in Forest Lake Thursday night.
The Eagles' high-octane offense started on the second play from scrimmage when EVW's quarterback Nolan Geislinger took the snap from the pistol formation and blasted past the Rebels defensive line. The senior dashed untouched on the 68-yard touchdown run. Geislinger also ran in for the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0 just one minute and two seconds into the playoff game.
Following a three and out for the Rebels, the Eagles scored again, this time a three-play 74-yard drive capped off by a 56-yard pass from Geislinger to senior Parker Schultz. Geislinger again converted the two-point conversion.
ML/WR, on its second drive, was forced to punt again after not being able to pick up a first down. This time, however, the Eagles turned the football over on a backward lateral and the fumble was recovered by Micah Thompson. This was a spark the Rebels desperately needed.
It didn't last: two plays later, the Rebels returned the favor and the Eagles quick-strike offense struck again as Geislinger connected with Wyatt Moehrle on a 55-yard TD pass, The same duo added two more points on the conversion and it was 24-0 after one quarter of play.
"This was the best quarterback I have seen not only this season, but for many years," said ML/WR head coach Dave Louzek. "We knew they were talented. Their receiving core was so talented, long, and could catch anything, we had a hard time matching up with their advantage."
The Eagles continued their offensive dominance in the second quarter as Geislinger threw another touchdown pass, rushed for a 77-yard touchdown run, and junior Max Geislinger ran in from 9 yards out to build up a 48-0 lead over the Rebels at halftime.
Nolan Geislinger finished out his night in the third quarter with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Landon Nieman, then his night was over after being involved with seven consecutive two-point conversions.
"Watching them on film, we knew we had to contain them defensively, but they were a much faster team than we anticipated from watching them on film." Louzek said, "We are a fast, quick team, but they beat us to the holes both offensively and defensively."
Geislinger finished the night with 225 yards passing, four touchdown passes and 289 yards rushing in the victory.
ML/WR entered the game averaging almost 300 yards rushing per contest but could muster only 106 yards on the ground. Senior Jaxson Schmidt led the Rebels with 54. The Rebels, who finished with a 10-2 overall record on the season, will have many younger returning players coming back next fall.
The quarterfinal game marked the Rebels' 16th trip to the state tournament in 18 years.
Eden Valley-Watkins improved to 11-0 and will face Cannon Falls on Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium with a trip to the Prep Bowl the following week; that winner will face Barnesville or Jackson County Central, who also play Friday.