By Bruce Monnin
MINSTER -- The top-ranked team in Division IV, the Coldwater Cavaliers, rolled into Minster having won the last 12 games over the Wildcats by an average of 19 points.
A determined Wildcat squad kept it closer, but Coldwater came away with its 13th straight win over the Minster, 24-10.
"I thought Minster really played hard. They really had a good game plan and they gave a great effort," commented Coldwater coach John Reed. "I hope their fans realize what an outstanding ball game they played."
"I just got done telling the kids that they played an excellent game," agreed Minster head coach Eric Belcher. "I think we are one or two big plays away from being a great football team."
Both teams took advantage of their first possession on the night. Coldwater received the opening kickoff and marched 77 yards on 11 plays, with Sam Slavik scoring on a one-yard run. Slavik was 4-of-5 passing for 46 yards, and also contributed 17 yards rushing on the drive.
Minster responded with a 10-play scoring drive of its own. The big play was Zac Boeke taking the handoff on a quick hitter up the middle and going 25 yards for the touchdown to even the score at 7-7.
Both defenses stiffened on the next pair of drives, but during the late portion of the second quarter, Coldwater put together the drives that were the difference in the game.
Coldwater reached deep into Minster territory with a 31-yard pass from Slavik to Mark Steinbrunner, then completed the scoring drive with a five-yard pass from Slavik to Cory Klenke to go ahead 14-7.
After holding Minster to a punt after three plays, it only took two plays for the Cavaliers to strike again. This time it was a 65-yard screen pass to Tyler Kunk to make the halftime score 21-7.
Slavik had a dominating first half, completing 12 out of 14 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
"Sam is an outstanding quarterback. He makes great decisions when he has time to throw," observed Reed. "I thought there was a lot of pressure on him the second half, they took us away from a lot of things we wanted to do."
In the second half, the defenses played a larger role. Minster started of the third quarter with a typical Wildcat drive, moving the ball 60 yards on 10 plays to the Coldwater five-yard line. However, Tony Harlamert came up big for the Cavaliers, intercepting a pass in the end zone to end the Minster threat.
The Cavaliers responded with their last score on the night. Coldwater drove to the 10-yard line before the Minster defense stiffened and forced Mario de la Rosa to kick a 27-yard field goal to extend Coldwater's lead to 24-7.
Minster had one last drive methodically working its way down the field, covering 66 yards in 15 plays. The Cavalier defense stiffened when it needed to, stopping Minster at the two-yard line and forcing the Wildcats to settle for a 19-yard Dan Mueller field goal to make the final score 24-10.
The good news for Minster fans was the Wildcats committed only one penalty and had just one turnover.
"Playing against the Division IV state champions, you have to be able to keep those mistakes down," added Belcher. "If we had been doing that all year we would be sitting in pretty good shape for the playoffs."
With the win, Coldwater extends its record to 40-12 in the series over Minster. Next week Coldwater, now 7-0, hosts the 4-3 Versailles Tigers. Minster (3-4) goes from hosting the #1 team in Division IV to traveling to face the fourth-ranked team in Division V, the 6-1 St. Henry Redskins.