Prep Football: Minnesota's Prep Bowl boasts two defending champs
Defending state champions Caledonia and Eden Prairie will be seeking championships this weekend as the 2012 Prep Bowl kicks off.
Caledonia and Eden Prairie are the only defending champs to survive the first two rounds of this year's tournament. The Caledonia Warriors are seeking their third consecutive and sixth overall Class AA title, and the Eagles are seeking their second consecutive and eighth overall title. The Eagles won in Class AAAAA in 2011, but are competing in the new Class AAAAAA this year. Nine teams that made it to championship games are still undefeated.
The Prep Bowl is today and Saturday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. KSTC-TV, Channel 45 will broadcast all seven games live, as well as providing the feed to cable systems around the state. The games will also be streamed live for free on the web at www.Prep45.com.
2012 Prep Bowl capsules
Class 9-Man: Grand Meadow (12-1) vs. Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (12-0), 10 a.m.
The Superlarks of Grand Meadow are making their fifth tournament appearance, but first since 2009. They have never won a state title and they were not ranked in the final Associated Press (AP) poll. The Wolverines of Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, who were the top team in the final AP poll, return to tournament action after a one-year absence. They are making their third appearance under this name. Clinton-Graceville made one appearance in 1993, Beardsley/Valley made one appearance in 1986, and Graceville made two appearances in 1979 and 1982. The Wolverines are also looking for their first championship.
Grand Meadow prefers to keep the ball on the ground. Through the quarterfinals, the Superlarks had rushed for 2,817 yards and completed 95-of-154 passing attempts for 1,895 yards. Sophomore Landon Jacobson rushed for 1,168 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Trenton Bleifus added another 783 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Bleifus also ran the passing game with 1,895 yards and 26 touchdowns on 95 completions.
Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley also has a formidable ground game, gaining 3,796 yards this season. Senior Logan Nordly scored 17 rushing touchdowns for the Wolverines and garnered 1,156 yards on 100 attempts. Junior Austin Maanum added 1,201 rushing yards and scored 15 touchdowns on 126 carries. Maanum also led the defense with 79 tackles, five interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. Junior quarterback Damon Gibson completed 36 of 64 passing attempts and tallied 11 touchdowns.
Class AA: Caledonia (12-0) vs. Moose Lake/Willow River (13-0), 1 p.m.
This is a rematch of the 2011 Prep Bowl final that Caledonia won 27-0. The two-time defending champion Caledonia Warriors are making their sixth consecutive and ninth overall appearance. In addition to the last two years, they also won championships in 1976, 2007 and 2008. In fact, the Warriors have either won or finished second in all but one of their previous eight appearances. They were ranked No. 1 in this year's final AP poll. The Rebels of Moose Lake/Willow River, who were No. 2 in the final AP poll, are making their seventh consecutive and eighth overall appearance under this name. Moose Lake made one appearance in 1977. The Rebels are still looking for their first title.
Caledonia relies heavily on its running game. The Warriors compiled 2,875 yards on the ground with senior Brad Strub accounting for 948 of those yards. Strub also tallied six rushing touchdowns on 129 carries. Senior quarterback Alex Varney completed just over 50 percent of his pass attempts and tossed 14 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Moose Lake/Willow River also likes to keep the ball on the ground with seniors Michael Pender and Jake Disterhaupt. Pender accounted for 22 touchdowns and 1,573 rushing yards, and Disterhaupt added another 18 touchdowns and 1,416 rushing yards. Senior quarterback Tony Adamczak completed 35 of his 65 passing attempts and connected with Disterhaupt for six receiving touchdowns. Senior B.J. Young led the Rebels with three interceptions and junior Brett Hawkins had a team-high 73 tackles.
Class AAAA: Hutchinson (12-0) vs. Holy Family Catholic, Victoria (10-3) at 4 p.m.
These teams met during the regular season with Hutchinson winning 60-7. The No. 2-ranked Tigers of Hutchinson are making their 17th appearance under this name. They won previous championships in 1983, 1984, and 1998. Hutchinson also made three consecutive appearances as a co-op with New Century Charter School between 2003 and 2005. The unranked Fire of Holy Family Catholic return for their third consecutive and fourth overall appearance. They lost in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Class AAA tournament and are still looking for their first state title.
The Hutchinson Tigers do a good job of keeping the ball on the ground. They accumulated 3,108 yards rushing and 1,108 yards passing. Junior Tory Adams scored 18 rushing touchdowns and gained 1,143 yards on 138 attempts. When it comes to passing, senior quarterback McKinley Anderson completed 57 percent of his attempts for 1,069 yards and 10 touchdowns. Anderson also rushed for another 402 yards and 12 touchdowns. Seniors Mitch Petersen and Shaun Schindler each tallied five receiving touchdowns for the Tigers.
The Fire of Holy Family Catholic netted 3,614 yards on the ground this year and added another 778 through the air. Senior quarterback Ben Baker connected on 47 percent of his pass attempts for 530 yards and six touchdowns. Baker also rushed for an additional 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior Derek Ogren caught 27 passes and accounted for 373 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Chazz Johnson gained 935 yards on the ground on 143 carries and also ran for 10 touchdowns.
Class AAAAAA: Lakeville North (11-1) vs. Eden Prairie (10-2), 7 p.m.
The Panthers of Lakeville North, who were tied for No. 4 in the final AP poll, are making their second consecutive and fourth overall appearance. They lost in the quarterfinals last year and are still looking for their first title. The No 7-ranked Eagles of Eden Prairie are making their eighth consecutive and 16th overall appearance. They took top honors last year and also won titles in 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2006, and 2007.
This year's Lakeville North squad depends heavily on its ground game. Junior Jamiah Newell rushed for 19 touchdowns and tallied 1,142 yards on 159 carries. Senior quarterback Zach Creighton completed 66 percent of his passing attempts and connected for 1,464 yards and 15 touchdowns. Creighton doesn't shy away from running either. He gained another 834 yards on the ground and rushed for five additional touchdowns.
This year's Eden Prairie squad also has a stellar ground game. Junior Dan Fisher notched 669 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on 110 attempts. Junior Charlie Venable added 725 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 101 carries. Senior quarterback Grant Shaeffer connected on 63 percent of his pass attempts for 261 yards and seven touchdowns. He tossed nine of those passes to junior Zach Hovey, who tallied six touchdowns and 177 yards.
Class A: Bethlehem Academy, Faribault (11-2) vs. Mahnomen (13-0), 10 a.m.
The unranked Cardinals of Bethlehem Academy are making their debut appearance. The top-ranked Indians of Mahnomen return to make their third consecutive and 21st overall appearance. They earned runner-up honors in 2011. They are looking for their seventh state title, having won previously in 1980, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1998.
The Bethlehem Academy Cardinals averaged 34.2 points per game this season and held their opponents to an average of 8.4 points. Seniors Blake Langerud and Kyle Filzen lead the offensive charge. Langerud is the main ball carrier and has gained 1,186 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. Filzen, the quarterback, completed 38 percent of his pass attempts and connected with receivers for 695 yards and 16 touchdowns. Filzen also rushed for 660 yards and another 16 touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, senior Dylan Valentyn has accounted for 96 tackles and two interceptions. Senior Mike Beckman had an additional 90 tackles and four fumble recoveries. A 50-yard punt return and a pass interception led to two of three touchdowns the Cardinals scored in a span of just over six minutes in their 29-20 semifinal win over defending champion Dawson-Boyd.
Mahnomen gains most of its yardage and scores most of its touchdowns on the ground. Senior quarterback Jacob Pavek has scored 27 rushing touchdowns and netted 1,156 yards on 131 attempts. Junior Bob Borge added seven rushing touchdowns and has tallied 978 yards on 121 attempts. When Pavek took his game to the air, he completed 36-of-62 attempts for an additional nine touchdowns. Senior Jacob Hedstrom leads the defense with 45 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Class AAA: Rochester Lourdes (13-0) vs. Blue Earth Area (12-0), 1 p.m.
Top-ranked Rochester Lourdes returns after a one-year absence to make its ninth appearance. The Eagles won previous titles in 1979 and 2010. The Buccaneers of Blue Earth Area, who were No. 2 in the final AP poll, are making their second consecutive and fourth overall appearance under this name. Blue Earth made one additional appearance in 1972. The Buccaneers lost in the quarterfinals of the Class AA tournament in 2011 and are still looking for their first title.
The Rochester Lourdes Eagles play a solid ground game, accumulating 4,108 yards this year. Sophomore Griff Slightam rushed for 16 touchdowns on 164 carries and netted a total of 1,294 yards. Junior McCay Carstens had 99 carries and tallied 15 touchdowns and 796 yards. Senior quarterback Mark Pagel tallied 656 yards and four touchdowns on 32 pass completions. Senior Kurt Bieniek led the Eagles' defense with 94 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception.
Blue Earth Area rushed for 2,903 yards this season while netting just 958 yards passing. Junior quarterback Kysten Zierke led the ground game for the Buccaneers. He scored 18 touchdowns on 159 attempts and 868 yards. Juniors Gus Phillips and David Franta added six rushing touchdowns apiece for Blue Earth Area. Zierke also completed 47 percent of his pass attempts and threw for nine touchdowns. Senior Isaac Darrington caught 21 of Zierke's passes and turned them into 381 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Carter Hanson led the Buccaneer's defense with 106 tackles. Blue Earth Area averaged 34.5 points per game while allowing opponents 9.9 points per game. Zierke rushed for 105 yards and had nine solo tackles in Blue Earth Area's 31-21 semifinal win over Perham.
Class AAAAA: Owatonna (12-0) vs. Totino-Grace, Fridley (12-0), 4 p.m.
Owatonna is making its fourth appearance, but first since 1999. The Huskies were ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll and are in the hunt for their first championship, having finished second in 1982 and 1998. The Eagles of Totino-Grace, who were No. 1 in the final poll, are making their fourth consecutive and 22nd overall appearance.
Owatonna relies heavily on its running game this year. The Huskies compiled 3,134 yards on the ground with junior Aaron Peterson accounting for 1,391 of those yards. Peterson tallied 22 rushing touchdowns on 207 carries. Senior quarterback Colton Schock completed 60 percent of his pass attempts and threw for 19 touchdowns. Senior Luke Ebeling caught 53 passes, amassing 817 yards and nine touchdowns. Junior Luke Wanous had a team-high 72 tackles for the Huskies. Owatonna averages 41.1 points per game while holding opponents to 14.2 points per game. Owatonna had more than double the total offense and nearly double the time of possession in its 30-27 semifinal win over St. Thomas Academy.
Totino-Grace also likes to keep the ball on the ground with senior Mason Kaliszewski and junior Kai Barber. Kaliszewski accounted for 11 touchdowns and 1,056 rushing yards, and Barber added another 10 touchdowns and 595 rushing yards. Senior quarterback AJ LaPanta completed 64 of his 130 passing attempts and connected with senior Charlie Miller for five receiving touchdowns. Senior Alec Clausing led the Eagles with three interceptions and senior Kurtis Mattox had a team-high 125 tackles. Totino-Grace averages 31.3 points per game and their opponents score an average of 9.5 points against them.