Louie St. George: Hair flowing, Suhonen has record-setting day to lead CromwellWhere the heck did this Jordan Suhonen come from and … what on earth happened to his hair?
By: Louie St. George, Budgeteer News
Anybody who watched the Cromwell Cardinals stave off Lanesboro in the Nine-Man state championship game Nov. 26 at the Metrodome likely wrestled with two questions: Where the heck did this Jordan Suhonen come from and … what on earth happened to his hair?
We’ll tackle the first question momentarily.
Before we do, there’s a larger issue at play, however. That, of course, being the locks — lots of ’em — that graced Suhonen’s head throughout the Cardinals’ march to another state crown, the fourth in program history.
What’s the deal? Electrocution? Lost bet? Carrot Top super-fan?
“You just gotta let it go,” Suhonen, a senior quarterback, quipped. “It’s usually kind of long for me, but not [that] long. Kids poke at me all the time, but just kidding, of course.”
The sweat produced by those “luscious locks” (Suhonen’s words) has to be brutal, no?
“I don’t really sweat that much, but that’s why I wear that headband — just to keep it out of my eyes,” he said.
Hair aside, how did Suhonen go about rewriting the state’s record book with one scintillating Black Friday performance?
Suhonen, a three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and has been to state as a sprinter in track, didn’t exactly come out
of nowhere to spark Cromwell’s late-season surge. A three-year starter at QB, he’s long produced gaudy numbers, including a year ago while leading the Cardinals to the state quarterfinals, where Suhonen broke his leg in a season-ending defeat to Ada-Borup. That injury slowed Suhonen early this fall (as did a sprained ankle) before the veteran sprang to life.
Still, what he did in the Prep Bowl was otherworldly. Playmaker or not, nobody could have expected the one-man highlight film Suhonen crafted on the grandest of stages. Records were smashed as Suhonen, his hair flowing out from beneath his helmet, shredded the Burros to pace Cromwell’s 49-42 triumph.
“I’ve always thought that I could [produce that kind of performance],” Suhonen said. “I made it my goal to do whatever I could in the playoffs.”
For starters, Suhonen’s 374 rushing yards made a mockery of the previous Prep Bowl record of 299, which was set in 1993. Suhonen’s shortest — repeat, shortest — touchdown run was a 20-yarder, while his longest was a record 86-yard scamper that left the Metrodome crowd in disbelief.
Quick to credit his offensive line, Suhonen kept executing mind-boggling bursts that had to deflate the feisty Burros.
He finished with five touchdowns, another record, while gaining more than 13 yards a carry.
So, where did that come from? How does an 18-year-old playing for a squad that was 2-4 in mid-October steal the state playoff spotlight with a once-in-a-generation performance?
“He did a good job of staying in the hole and bouncing outside,” Cromwell coach Jeff Gronner told the News Tribune. “He’s a special athlete and a great leader. He’s going to be missed.”
More than a week removed from the dazzling effort that lifted the Cardinals to their first title since 1998 — an eternity for the tradition-clad Cards — Suhonen has had time to reflect on everything he and his teammates accomplished in a season that was teetering on the brink of collapse a month and a half ago, before Cromwell closed the season with a seven-game winning streak.
He’s also had time to ponder a new look. That unruly mop of hair was a nice diversion during the Cardinals’ prolonged playoff run — but, c’mon, good things can’t last forever.
Reached earlier this week, Suhonen admitted he was a day away from a trim. Luckily, his aunt cuts hair.
• Not only did the University of Minnesota Duluth football team survive St. Cloud State University in last weekend’s NCAA second-round playoff game, but the Bulldogs also survived some shady officiating. Nothing was more perplexing than when sophomore quarterback Chase Vogler completed a 10-yard pass down to the Husky five-yard-line with little more than 20 seconds on the clock. The completion was oh-so-close to a first down, which would have stopped the clock. But the officials, impossibly indecisive, didn’t bring out the chains until after the Bulldogs spiked the ball on second down. They went on to win 20-17 in overtime.
UMD hosts Augustana this afternoon in a national quarterfinal.
• Prior to the NFL season, I predicted that the Vikings would finish with a dismal 8-8 record. They have to go 4-1 to make that happen. Ouch.
• Finally, a heartfelt farewell to the DECC as a Division I hockey venue. Lots of memories wrapped up in that building.
Budgeteer sports columnist Louie St. George can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.