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Prep football: Cloquet's Wehr scores 7 TDs in section final win

Spencer Wehr (5) of Cloquet dives into the end zone for one of his seven touchdowns against North Branch in the Section 7AAAA championship game Friday night at Public Schools Stadium. Cloquet won 46-26. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com1 / 3
Alex Leuzzo (24) of Cloquet rushes the ball against against Trenton Reynolds (84) of North Branch in the Section 7AAAA championship game Friday night at Public Schools Stadium. Cloquet won 46-26. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com2 / 3
Tim Pokornowski (3) of Cloquet rushes the ball as Thomas Wurdermann (25) of North Branch defends in the Section 7AAAA championship game Friday night at Public Schools Stadium. Cloquet won 46-26. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Spencer Wehr rushed for 118 yards and four touchdowns Friday at Public Schools Stadium.

And if you think that’s impressive, you should have seen his second half.

Wehr had a night to remember in the Section 7AAAA title game against North Branch, which would rather forget the carnage. The physical senior running back piled up 221 rushing yards on 34 carries and scored seven TDs to lift the Lumberjacks over the Vikings 46-26 at chilly PSS, which featured a light layer of snow when the final gun sounded.

The buzz afterward, as players hit the turf for rare postseason football snow angels, was Wehr’s seven-score performance in a section final that sent Cloquet to its fourth state tournament since 2013. The man himself was unfazed.

“I didn’t know how many I had until they told me,” said Wehr, whose final trip to the end zone came on an 18-yard pass from Tim Pokornowski late in the fourth quarter. “I just kept on going — keep running and find a hole.”

And, man, were there holes to be found. Wehr’s first carry was a 45-yard burst right up the middle, through a running lane wide enough that the world’s most famous lumberjack, Paul Bunyan himself, could have done some damage. Wehr’s next attempt was a 6-yard TD. He was just getting warmed up.

Offensive lineman Dylan Lauer admitted, sheepishly, that he and his cohorts did a terrific job. But, the senior added of Wehr, “He can make holes for himself.”

Lauer then said: “Makes you wonder what the state record is. Would’ve been nice if he got it.”

Unofficially, that record is eight, and Wehr is tied for third place. Cook County running back Peter Warren tied the record of eight in a 2012 game.

Cloquet, meanwhile, is all alone in first, just as it was a year ago.

The top-seeded Lumberjacks (10-0) got off to a shaky start when all-world North Branch quarterback Aaron Robillard marched the Vikings (7-3) down the field and hit Conner Hartmann for a 10-yard strike on the contest’s first drive. Robillard came in with more than 1,700 yards and 25 TDs on the ground, to go with 1,200-plus passing yards and another 12 TDs.

Minus a 58-yard romp in the final minute, Robillard was held relatively in check — at least by his standards — finishing with 131 rushing yards and 140 passing.

Whereas North Branch relies overwhelmingly on Robillard to instigate its offense, the Lumberjacks share the love. Pokornowski has thrown for almost 1,300 yards, while running for another 695. Aahsan Maigag, who rushed for 70 yards Friday, has breakaway speed. And Mitchell Gerlach and Joshua Bushey are dangerous pass-catchers. Then there’s Wehr.

It was his turn to shoulder the load, apparently. That’s the nice thing about being so versatile, Cloquet coach Tom Lenarz said minutes after all but dodging the celebratory water-cooler dump.

“I think sometimes people wonder, ‘Well, how can they score that many points? They don’t have a 1,000-yard rusher. They don’t have this or that,’ ” the coach explained. “That’s because we try to spread it out, we try to make sure people can’t take away one person or one thing. If they’re going to clog up the middle, then Aahsan’s going to hit them outside or Timmy’s going to hit them outside.”

The middle was decidedly unclogged against North Branch.

At times, Wehr looked like a bowling ball. And the Vikings, wearing white jerseys, played the part of the pins. His third TD, a 13-yarder in the second quarter in which he bulled his way in, gave the Lumberjacks a 20-14 lead they never relinquished. Wehr added two more before North Branch responded to make it 32-20, but by that point, it was too late.

This one was over.

Now it’s onto Husky Stadium at St. Cloud State for Cloquet, which will face either Becker or Big Lake next Friday in the state quarterfinals. And while the Lumberjacks are no state strangers, they haven’t had much luck once there. They hope to change that this time around.

“The goal for us the whole season has been that we want to go play in (U.S. Bank Stadium), and we took another step that way,” Lenarz said.

Added Wehr: “We’ve been here before, but we want to get further.”

North Branch 6-8-6-6—26

Cloquet 12-14-14-6—46

NB — Conner Hartmann 10 pass from Aaron Robillard (pass failed)

C — Spencer Wehr 6 run (kick failed)

C — Wehr 4 run (kick failed)

NB — Thomas Wurdemann 8 run (Tyler Adams run)

C — Wehr 13 run (Tyler Moose pass from Tim Pokornowski)

C — Wehr 3 run (pass failed)

C — Wehr 12 run (kick failed)

NB — Hartmann 10 pass from Robillard (run failed)

C — Wehr 3 run (Wehr run)

C — Wehr 18 pass from Pokornowski (kick failed)

NB — Robillard 58 run (pass failed)