MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The high school football state tournament is full of firsts for many players and teams. The Dassel-Cokato Chargers know that better than anyone. For the first time in 47 years the Chargers are playing in the state finals and they have their eye on the 3-A title.

The more you win, the more the scenery changes.

“I always knew from the group of guys we had that this was a possibility,” senior Jackson Martin said.

Dassel-Cokato just kept winning. In the state semi-finals at U.S. Bank Stadium they avenged an earlier loss to Annandale to advance to the state title game.

“Being in a state game made it that more exciting to beat them,” senior Eli Tormanen said.

This week, the Chargers are at another dome, using St. Michael-Albertville’s practice facility because the field surface is similar to U.S. Bank Stadium’s. They’re okay with reflecting on what’s been an historic season, but mostly they’re looking ahead to see if more history can be made.

“It shows how resilient our team is. We put that loss behind us and got better from it,” senior Sanders Asplin said.

The Chargers don’t need any extra motivation at this point, but that doesn’t mean the seniors are going to forget the journey and adversity they’ve faced. Jacob MacDonald, who wore number 34, would have been a fellow senior on this state tournament team. But he passed away two years ago after suffering a severe reaction to a peanut allergy.

“We always talk about it as a team. You can almost feel it out on the field. Feel a little energy boost while you’re playing and look back and think, that’s probably Jacob, cheering us on while we are playing,” Martin said.

So they’ll play for MacDonald and for each other. Bringing home a state championship would be the perfect ending for this group of seniors.

“Ah, it would be exciting. I think the whole team would be fired up,” senior Josh Deboer said.

Dassel Cokato will play Pierz for the 3-A title on Saturday, Nov. 30 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“I would be amazing. I just feel lucky to be with this group of guys, coaching at Dassel-Cokato. I’d love to have the opportunity to have that feeling- certainly something we are working hard at,” coach Ryan Weinandt said.

John Lauritsen