KMS in Class A state football final
MINNEAPOLIS -- It will be an all-Prairie South final when the Class A championship game is played one day after Thanksgiving at Prep Bowl XXVIII.
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg and Royalton will meet for the second time this fall after the Fighting Saints secured a spot in the title game by clobbering Springfield 41-7 in the semifinals on Saturday.
"It won't be tough to get up for that game," said KMS fullback Mitch Hagen, who ran for 121 yards and returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Saints were already calling it a "revenge game", remembering a 23-7 loss on the Royals' field on Oct. 3.
The title tilt is set for 1 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Metrodome. It's the first trip for KMS to the final. Last year the Saints were stopped by eventual champion Goodhue in the semifinal, 44-12.
"We were starstruck down here last year said senior captain Joey Bauman, a two-way starter at center and linebacker. "This time, we knew we had some business to take care of and we approached it as just another football game."
After punching in for the 10:15 a.m. start, the Saints went right to work, driving the opening kickoff 71 yards in 10 plays. Junior tailback Joel Bauman carried six times and Hagen the other four. Bauman burrowed the last two feet and Andres Rojas kicked the first of his five extra points.
After an exchange of fumbles deep in Tigers' territory, Springfield quarterback Jordan Milbrath threw a perfect pass to Ryan Beyer flying down the Springfield sideline for a 73-yard touchdown.
But that would be about the only celebration all day for Springfield.
KMS (11-2) would roll for two more touchdowns and 195 yards rushing by halftime and a 21-7 lead.
Senior quarterback Kevin Steinhaus would circle right end for one second-quarter touchdown and then throw to his tight end Taylor Freetly for a 49-yard TD.
Steinhaus was asked if it was different the second time around? The two-way starter who also had an interception replied: "It's way better to win. It was much more fun, and this is something we worked hard for all summer. Anything less would have been a letdown."
A 63-yard scoring drive at the end of the third quarter iced the outcome. Hagen, Steinhaus and Bauman all carried for big chucks of yardage with Bauman getting the last 10 for his 29th TD of the season.
"My line is amazing," said Bauman in the locker room after pushing his rushing total to over 2,650 yards.
Hagen ate up 121 yards in just 18 carries to Bauman's 119 in 21 attempts. It was the first 100-yard game for Hagen.
"We did a good job up front," said KMS coach James Cortez. "A team sees that you have a 2,500-yard back they figure that's who they have to stop. They were keying on our tailback, but we're pretty balanced and Mitch came through running hard for big yards."
Steinhaus and Freetly hooked up again in the fourth frame on the same counter bootleg, this time from 34 yards. Hagen, a linebacker, picked off a pass and ran it back 67 yards to end the scoring.
The Saints' defense held Springfield to 145 yards rushing in 41 tries, a 3.3 average.
Cortez felt his defensive ends, Brad Kneisl and Mitch Weflen, especially had big games, along with the linebackers Joey Bauman, Freetly and Hagen.
Springfield (9-4), the 2005 state champion, was making its four state tournament trip in five years.
Royalton (12-1) will also be making it first championship game appearance.
In addition to getting to the semifinals both in 2007 and this fall, Kerkhoven lost in a 1974 Class C semifinal game at Willmar to eventual champion Battle Lake.
KMS 41, Springfield 7
Springfield 7 0 0 0 -- 7
KMS 7 14 6 14 -- 41
KMS - Joel Bauman 1 run (Andres Rojas kick)
Spr - Ryan Beyer 73 pass from Jordan Milbrath (Max Salazar kick)
KMS - Kevin Steinhaus 2 run (Rojas Kick)
KMS - Taylor Freetly 49 pass from Steinhaus (Rojas kick)
KMS - Bauman 10 run (kick fail)
KMS - Freetly 34 pass from Steinhaus (Rojas kick)
KMS - Mitch Hagen 67 interception return (Rojas kick)
First downs: 10 ... Rushing: 41-135 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 4-15-109-3 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 6-35
Rushing: Colby Solonek 10-31, Jordan Milbrath 10-26, Josh Anderson 5-23, Tyler Stark 4-18, Ryan Beyer 5-18....Passing: Milbrath 4-15-109-3 ... Receiving: Ryan Beyer 1-73, Brian Davis 1-20, Brennan Boettger 1-9, Ethan Fennern 1-7 ... Punting: Stark 3-34.3 ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: Boettger, Tony Vaske ... Tackles (solo-assist): Marc Salazar 12, Kyle Thoreson 8, Boettger 6 ... Sacks: none
First downs: 19 ... Rushing: 54-274 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 3-7-89-0 ... Fumbles lost: 2 ... Penalties: 2-10
Rushing: Mitch Hagen 18-121, Joe Bauman 25-119, Kevin Steinhaus 8-35, Jacob Engler 1-2, Lee Keil 1-0, Aaron Doraska 1-(-3)... Passing: Steinhaus 3-7-89-0 ... Receiving: Taylor Freetly 3-89 ... Punting: Freetly 4-32.2 ... Interceptions: Hagen, Steinhaus ... Fumble recoveries: Freetly ... Tackles (solo-assist): Aaron Zimmer 7, Joey Bauman 6, Freetly 6, Adam Wentzel 4, Stuart Johnson 3, Mitch Ferholtz 3, Hagen 3, Jake Armstrong 3, Chris DiSanto 3, Brad Kneisl 2, Jordan Helms 2, Steinhaus 2, Mitch Weflen 2, Issac Froelich 1, Lee Keil 1, Jessie Engler 1, Casey Krieger 1 ... Sacks: Weflen 1