MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — West Central Area-Ashby will play for their first state championship ever Friday when they meet up with Chatfield at U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s been a season full of tight games for the Knights, none closer than their semifinal contest.

“If you could have scripted 100 different versions of how me could have imagined the game going, you could have never expected to win with a safety in the third quarter, the only points of the half kinda deal,” said Knights head coach Nate Wood.

The Knights knocked off Maple River by a very unique final score – 8-7. It was their sixth game this season with a margin of less than 10 points.

“We’ve been down in a lot of games this year and they didn’t get rattled,” Wood said. “They don’t panic. They keep grinding and doing what they need to do, and so far have been able to rise to the challenge and it pays off.”

The defense led by Hunter Norby is a big reason for those comebacks. The unit has only allowed more than 14 points twice this year. The class 2-A title game will see the 6th-seeded knights and No. 1 Chatfield square off. West Central Ashby is ready for another nail-biter.

“Football is a long game. There’s a lot of things that happen over the course of a game,” Wood said. “And even if things aren’t looking great at the moment, if you keep fighting, you’re going to have a chance. That’s a good lesson to take away from it, to keep fighting, to not quit.”

The Class AA championship game is Friday at 1 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Ren Clayton