Fairmont to face St. Croix Lutheran in AAA state football quarterfinal

Fairmont vs. St. Croix Lutheran Academy 2.0. Kickoff time: noon on Saturday. Location: Burnsville High School’s football field. Postseason level: Class AAA state quarterfinal.

Legendary mentor Carl Lemke and his ground-and-pound Crusaders edged fifth-year head coach Mat Mahoney and his pass-oriented Cardinals, 34-32, for the Class AAA state football championship on Nov. 26, 2011, inside the Metrodome.

It was Mahoney’s first-ever appearance in the opening round of the Prep Bowl, 

while the championship clash triggered a string of seven consecutive state bids by Lemke’s gridiron program.

Fast forward to the present. Lemke has been retired since December of 2018 after closing out his 46th season as the No. 7 all-time winningest high school football coach in the state of Minnesota at 304.

Adam Frey, Lemke’s successor, earned the first state bid of his four-year tenure at the Crusaders’ helm and St. Croix Lutheran Academy’s ninth overall.

Frey’s team carries a somewhat deceptive 5-5 overall record into Saturday’s state quarterfinal on the heels of a 44-25 victory over Minneapolis Henry and a narrow 14-6 win over 2021 champion Breck for the Section 4 crown.

Senior fullback Evan Valleau produced both of the Crusaders’ touchdowns during their sectional finale win over Breck.