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War Hawks end Tigers’ season

The Luverne Tigers ended their season during the second round of the AHSAA Class 3A playoffs last Friday night to a powerful Daleville squad, 17-6.

With Friday night’s loss also ends Les Sanders’ first year as head coach of the Tigers, who’ve had an impressive 8-4 season.

“I’m proud of our kids for fighting hard this entire year,” Sanders said. “But Friday just wasn’t our night.”

Both Luverne and the Daleville War Hawks went scoreless during the first quarter, but things began to quickly change for both teams during the next quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Luverne thought they had recovered a fumble, but the play was called back. On the very next play of the game, Daleville managed to put the first points on the board as they scored on a 70-yard passing play with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. The point-after attempt was good, and the War Hawks took the lead 7-0.

But the Tigers battled their way back as senior running back Chad Free scored on a two-yard run with 1:45 left in the second quarter. Robert Freeman’s PAT failed, and the Tigers trailed 7-6.

But Luverne wasn’t finished yet, as they attempted to add more points to the board before the end of the first half as junior Ryan McGhee intercepted a War Hawk pass and took it to the 10-yard line. Quarterback Monterio May passed the ball to junior Evan Richardson who took it to the 3 yard line. On the last play of the first half, Luverne missed the field goal attempt, causing them to trail behind Daleville 7-6 going into halftime.

The War Hawks wasted no time, however, adding more points to the board midway though the third quarter as they kicked a 30-yard field goal to up their lead 10-6.

With less than two minutes to go in the game, Daleville returned an interception for a 5-yard touchdown run. The PAT was good, and the War Hawks advanced to the third round of the Class 3A playoffs this week with a 17-6 victory over LHS.

On offense, Chad Free had 82 yards rushing and one TD, and Evan Richardson and Matthew Sipper led the Tigers with two catches each.

The Tiger defense was led by Micah Wallace, A.J. Hall, and Ryan McGhee. McGhee also had one interception for a 40-yard return.

As Sanders ends his first season as head coach of the Tigers, he looks back and is pleased with the progress the team made throughout the season.

“I thought our kids got better every week,” he said. “They grew up, and they played hard every week—I was real pleased with that.”

And what about getting ready for next year?

“We’ve got to get in the weight room and get bigger and stronger for next year, that’s for sure,” he said. “And we really want to build our numbers up.”

Sanders will lose 10 seniors from this year’s Tiger squad: Bakari Burnette, Matthew Sipper, Micah Wallace, Chad Free, Justin Ray, Wesley Gibson, Mike Lovejoy, A.J. Hall, Haden Wilkes, and Robert Roys.