Chatfield Prepares for Thursday’s State Semifinal Game

Gophers will play Barnesville at U.S. Bank Stadium
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 11:03 PM CST
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AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) – The Chatfield Gophers practiced at the Austin Packer Dome Tuesday afternoon. The Gophs moved practice indoors to help prepare for the indoor environment of Thursday’s Class AA semifinal match up against Barnesville at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Chatfield is coming off a dominant 50-20 win against Minneapolis North in the state quarterfinals. The Gophs now have 11 wins on the season, and they are excited to be in the state’s final four.

Chatfield Head Coach Jeff Johnson says moving practice indoors will allow the Gophers to open up their playbook.

“Thank goodness Austin had their bubble up,” Johnson said. “That’s huge for us, just to get out of the wind. It’s been so windy the past couple of weeks, we haven’t been able to throw very well. It’s nice to get in here, throw the ball around a little bit, and get back to our passing game which can be very nice. Especially when teams start to load the box on us now, the next couple of weeks we’ll have to pass the ball a little bit, too.”

Johnson says the team will need to “pass the ball a little bit, too” because quarterback Sam Backer has run over defenses all season long.

In last week’s state quarterfinal match up against Minneapolis North, Backer scored seven total touchdowns -- while picking up 237 yards on the ground. In the section championship game against Goodhue, Backer scored six touchdowns -- while setting a school-record with 345 yards on the ground.

Now, Backer and the Gophers are one win away from playing for a state title. However, he says the work for this state tournament started at the end of last season -- when the team gathered together and made a pact to work in the weight room. All that work set the foundation so this team could reach its potential.

“It wasn’t really mandatory. It kind of came upon us as players,” Backer said. “We all decided, ‘We’re going to be really good this year. Let’s make sure that we’re above the top, and we’ll be better than teams even expect us to be. We nag each other to get in [the weight room] and work really hard.”

Chatfield (11-1) plays Barnesville (9-2) in the Class AA State Semifinals on Thursday at 2 p.m.

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