Bangor vs. Abbotsford

Caden Servais leads the Bangor football team as it celebrates a 30-7 victory over Abbotsford in the WIAA Division 7 state semifinals Friday night in Chippewa Falls, Wis. Bangor, the 2015 Division 7 state champion, earned its second state berth in the last three years.

NATE BEIER, Special to the Tribune

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — The weather may have been frigid, but the Bangor High School football team stayed blistering hot.

The Cardinals used a second-half surge and rode running back Luke Reader to a 30-7 win over Abbotsford at Dorais Field Friday night. The victory punched Bangor’s ticket to the Division 7 state championship game for the second time in the last three years. Bangor has won 39 of its last 40 games.

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Bangor vs. Abbotsford

Bangor’s Luke Reader follows teammates Theo Muellenberg and Garrett Krueger to the outside on a run in the third quarter of Friday’s Division 7 semifinal game. Reader rushed 33 times for 221 yards and three TDs.

“It feels awesome,” Bangor coach Rick Muellenberg said. “So happy for our players, all the hard work that was put in, our coaching staff, our community, all the great support we had here tonight. It just feels surreal again to go back to Madison.”

Bangor (13-0) will face Black Hawk (13-0) at Camp Randall Stadium at 10 a.m. Thursday for the Division 7 state title. The Warriors defeated Fall River 56-8 in the other state semifinal.

Friday’s first half was largely uneventful, save for a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Reader on the Cardinals’ opening drive. Bangor’s defense held the Falcons scoreless in the first two quarters, with Abbotsford (10-3) missing a field goal as time expired in the half, leaving Bangor up 8-0.

“I think that (missed field goal) was huge momentum-wise,” Muellenberg said. “After that first drive it was a slugfest. Nobody could really do much with the football until that second half when we came out.”

The Bangor offense came to life in the third quarter, with Reader breaking free on a 22-yard touchdown run on the Cardinals’ first drive to push the lead to 16-0. On Bangor’s next possession, Reader barreled into the end zone from 1 yard out for his third score of the night, which extended the lead to 23-0 with 11:34 remaining.

Quarterback Drew Johnson put the exclamation point on the win with a 5-yard rushing touchdown to put the Cardinals ahead by 30 with 3:25 left.

Abbotsford managed to get on the scoreboard on its final possession. Quarterback Ean Rau threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Cody Friedenfels with under 2 minutes remaining, but it was far too late for a comeback.

The Cardinals made some tweaks to their plan of attack at halftime, and that allowed them to wear down the Falcons as the game wore on.

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Bangor vs. Abbotsford

Bangor's Cade Amborn tries to keep the fan section fired up after the Cardinals' fourth touchdown Friday night against Abbotsford.

“We had a couple of adjustments we made with our blocking schemes on the edge there. We ran the ball a little bit better outside, so I think that really opened it up,” Muellenberg said.

A little extra motivation from the coaches helped, too.

“Coaches got us fired up at half,” Bangor senior Caleb Miedema said. “We came out, made the right blocks, and things just went our way.”

Reader finished with 207 yards on 31 carries to lead the Cardinals. Bangor outgained the Falcons 345 yards to 213.

The Cardinals will be seeking their second state championship since 2015 on Thursday. Bangor defeated Pepin/Alma 20-14 for the Division 7 title two years ago.


Photos: 2017 high school football season in the La Crosse area

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