MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Seven state champions were crowned last weekend as the Minnesota State High School League hosted its final Prep Bowl at the Metrodome.
For seven teams, getting to hoist a championship trophy last weekend made the extra weightlifting and work over the summer worth it. Over the course of 13 or 14 weeks, teammates became best friends as they all drove toward a common goal: Getting to the Metrodome for the Prep Bowl and winning it. For the runners-up, a season full of high hopes and big expectations came up devastatingly one game short.
In somewhat fitting fashion, the final Prep Bowl game at the Metrodome was between two teams from outside the Twin Cities metro. Legendary coach Ron Stolski brought in Brainerd, but the Warriors were simply overmatched as Owatonna represented the Big Nine Conference and southern Minnesota with a 24-0 victory.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the future of the Prep Bowl. The logical choice is to have TCF Bank Stadium host the games, but weather has to cooperate and the Gophers football team has to have an open slot that weekend.
Here’s a glance at some of last weekend’s championship games.
Class 6A: Eden Prairie Beats Rosemount 28-7 To Repeat
We all know Eden Prairie has a powerful offensive approach, but it was the Eagles defense this year that led them to an undefeated season and a 28-7 win over Rosemount in the Class 6A prep Bowl. Eden Prairie limited an explosive Irish offense to just 157 total yards, including a mere 41 passing yards. Anthony Anderson, who has been an offensive standout for the Eagles all season, ran for 165 yards and a touchdown and caught a 51-yard touchdown pass in the win. Eden Prairie won its third straight state title and ninth overall under Mike Grant. They were one of three teams to repeat.
Class 4A: Hutchinson Rolls To 49-7 Victory
Hutchinson finished another storybook season under coach Andy Rostberg with a 49-7 win over Holy Angels to win its second straight state title. The Tigers have won 14 straight games and 23 of their last 24. The program’s last loss came to Mankato West in the 2011 Section 2AAAA title game.
The Tigers have dominated with a strong defense that doesn’t give up much and a deceptive ground game that churns up yards. Robbie Grimsley had touchdown runs of 76, 57 and 92 yards in the first quarter against the Stars as Hutchinson built a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. They led 35-0 at half as the Tigers got three touchdown runs and a punt return touchdown from Tory Adams. Hutchinson ran for 454 yards in the win.
Class A: Mahnomen beats Dawson-Boyd 46-13
Mahnomen played with a chip on its shoulder in the Class A Prep Bowl last week, largely because the opponent was a familiar face. The Indians lost to Dawson-Boyd in the Prep Bowl two seasons ago, and they weren’t about to let it happen again. Mahnomen got 179 rushing yards and two scores from quarterback Tom Pavek in a 46-13 victory. Mahnomen ran for nearly 400 yards in the win to complete another undefeated season and win its second straight state title. Over the last four seasons, Mahnomen has built an impressive 41-2 record.
Class 4A: Owatonna Shuts Out Brainerd 24-0
A pair of teams on opposite sides of the state met for the final high school football game in the Metrodome as Owatonna cruised to a 24-0 win over Brainerd in the Class 5A Prep Bowl. The Huskies had unfinished business to settle after reaching the title game last year and losing to Totino-Grace.
This year, Aaron Peterson ran for 183 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns. Sam Fenske added a fourth quarter interception return for a touchdown as Owatonna outgained Brainerd 369-187 in the contest. The Huskies ran for 233 yards in the win.
In the other state championship games, Grand Meadow beat Underwood 28-6 in the Nine Man game, Chatfield beat Minneota/Lincoln 17-7 in Class AA and St. Croix Lutheran won a shootout over New London-Spicer 48-44. There were no real huge surprises from this year’s state title games.
Now that the state tournament is leaving the soon-to-be demolished Metrodome, changes are coming to high school football in Minnesota. Some of them were finalized as the state high school league’s board of directors met this week. For the next two years, TCF Bank Stadium will host the Prep Bowl until the new Vikings stadium can be finished.
The 2015 Prep Bowl will be two weeks earlier than normal so that TCF Bank Stadium can host it Nov. 13-14. The Gophers have a home game the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2015, forcing the shift. It means either the footballs season will have to start earlier, or if it starts at the normal time not every team can be eligible for the playoffs. A decision on that will be made at a later date.
For now, another season of high school football is in the books. The Vikings recently announced their all-state football team as players were honored at last weekend’s game against the Bears. We’ll have more on that list next week.
Soon, the WCCO Prep Blog will transition to the winter sports season with boys and girls basketball, boys and girls hockey and some wrestling thrown into the mix.